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Captured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 31, 1999
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With the investigative skill of a seasoned reporter (which Achenbach is, for the Washington Post) and the wit and charm of an NPR commentator (which he also is), Achenbach turns out to be the perfect companion for such a cosmic road trip. This curious, earnest, and frequently hilarious writer proves equally at ease with legit figures like Sagan and NASA administrator Dan Goldin as he is with self-described "Starseeds" (aliens in human bodies) and technophiles like Mars-booster Bob Zubrin. Achenbach knows his science, but he always brooks just the right amount of nonsense. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Achenbach wants to know where we (life) came from, how we operate, if we have neighbors, and how to find (and perhaps visit) them. Finding a bit of underlying cosmic purpose along the way would also be useful.
As he mounts his quest, Achenbach manages to talk with people involved in all aspects of cosmology, astrobiology, space exploration, and the popularization of science. He also devotes a hefty amount of attention to "non traditional" resources. In so doing, he applies honest inquisitiveness and a satirist's wit with equal measure upon all he meets.
This book often resembles a curious cross between Hunter Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" and Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". That is, it is part satire, part fact, and part introspection. As Achenbach makes his way, he finds himself advised by the likes of Carl Sagan, Dan Goldin, Bob Zubrin as well as UFO abductees undergoing hypnotic regression in a Las Vegas motel room, UFO believer Joe Firmage making his billions in Silicon Valley, and a plethora of others from science and society.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this book is how Achenbach manages to weave this book of personal wanderings in with a retrospective on Carl Sagan's life. Sagan was clearly fading when Achenbach wrote the book.Read more ›
The book is divided into three parts. The first part could be considered to reflect the "establishment" view, giving the perspective from mainstream science and personages including Carl Sagan and NASA administrator Dan Goldin. Even within the mainstream, though, there are controversies: the well-known one about whether meteorite ALH84001 contains life and the lesser-known issue over whether the Viking landers really did find signs of life, as one of the investigators on that mission continues to claim. Achenbach covers these as well as an overview of the Drake Equation, a profile of Dan Goldin, and other such relevant items.
Part Two takes a very different tack, covering the fringe: those who believe the aliens are here already, including those who think they themselves are the aliens (from the Pleiades, as I recall). Achenbach tries to be sympathetic to these, though not with complete success. As he concludes, "It is not the evidence of extraterrestrial creatures but, rather, the idea of the Alien that makes ufology such a powerful faith." As he makes clear, almost everyone would be delighted to find life elsewhere in the universe. The skeptics, however, require evidence before they will give in to their hopes.
All of the parts are rather loosely organized, jumping from subject to subject, but Part Three is the loosest of all, seemingly only tied together by the concept of "what might happen." Here he jumps from possible new technologies ("Zero Point Fields") that might get us to the stars, reports on a conference of Robert Zubrin's Mars Society, spends a chapter on the Mars Face, revisits what's going on now with SETI, and more.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I got it for my dad and he loved this book. He said it was very well written. We still need to read it for further review :)Published 3 months ago by L. Watts
Joel Achengach's writing, his choice of what and who to focus on make this one of my favorite books on the subject of "are we alone. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Thomas
I am totally hooked on this book. I wrote the following to the author: Joel, I have read "Captured by Aliens" three times, always with astonished admiration and complete... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jmoss
Essential science for understanding the very real possibility that we may be the most evolved life form in the universe. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Greg Wilkinson
Just finished the hardback version of "Captured by Aliens". While I found it hard not to cringe when Joel explored the strange universe of UFO/New Age nuts, I also learned a lot... Read morePublished on August 10, 2013 by M. Stone
If you'd like to read more about Carl Sagan or NASA administrator Dan Goldin, or UFO outfits like the Unarius Academy of Science or the Raelians, then this may be your book. Read morePublished on March 22, 2011 by Ken Gardner
this book was given to me as a joke for my birthday. and indeed it is. i never heard of this author until now. Read morePublished on March 15, 2007 by Joseph L. Kolb
This lively, amusing book touches on many ways that people relate to the cosmos, from astrophysicists to the Heavens Gate cult. Read morePublished on April 2, 2004 by M. A Michaud