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Going Interstellar Mass Market Paperback – May 29, 2012
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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About the Author
Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer, and motivational trainer. McDevitt is the winner of the Nebula award, the Philip K. Dick Special Award, and the UPC International Novella award. McDevitt lives in Georgia with his wife Maureen, where he plays chess, reads mysteries, and eats lunch regularly with his cronies.
Les Johnson is a NASA physicist, manager, author, husband and father. By day, he serves as the Deputy Manager for the Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Johnson is also an on-screen consultant and commentator for National Geographic Channel special programming, including Evacuate Earth. He is the co-author with Travis S. Taylor of science fiction thriller Back to the Moon from Baen Books.
Top customer reviews
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This is a good collection, very solid. I had expected it to be a collection of short stories devoted to aspects of interstellar travel and those ARE there, but it's more than that....there's a focus (which I didn't know prior to purchase) on stories that used *known* physics and current or near-current technologies....no warp drives or Stargates here! Interspersed are various essays on starship design, various propulsion options (solar sails, fusion, anti-matter), etc. Because the focus is on known or plausibly-known propulsion options, the stories themselves revolve around expeditions to nearby stars only....the "early days" of interstellar travel as it were.
The stories themselves are the usual mixed lot, some so fascinating I couldn't wait to turn the page and others so "weird" (for lack of a better phrase) that I skipped them after a few pages. This is typical for any collection such as this, and the ones that didn't work for me might very well be favorites for somebody else...there's plenty to go around here.
The design essays were generally very solid with some interesting designs postulated; they formed an excellent background for some of stories.
Recommended for anybody who likes this type of focus and a little different take from the more space opera style stories one often finds.
I enjoyed all the essays. They were full of facts, history, and a reasonable amount of hard science. They even had a few diagrams, so I'm glad I bought it in dead-tree edition rather than e-book. Mostly the essays dealt with various proposals for real interstellar spacecraft that would plod along at slower than the speed of light. While that can make for weak fiction, it's actually possible by our current understanding of the universe. No magic physics is required.
The fiction was hit or miss for me. I did really enjoy one of the stories by McDevitt, and it truly did make me care about the main character, an AI computer that finally got a shot at the big game. A couple of others left me flat, and one truly disappointed me. It dealt with a multi-generation colony ship, and I found it lacking compared to my own novel of a similar colony ship. That's not really fair to this story, of course, but that's how it hit me.
So, if you want some info on real interstellar proposals, get this for the articles, and maybe check out the fiction.