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An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion Paperback – February 27, 2006
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About the Author
Travis Shane Taylor is a born and bred southerner and resides just outside Huntsville, Alabama. He has a Doctorate in Optical Science and Engineering, a Masters degree in Physics, a Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering, all from the University of Alabama in Huntsville; a Masters degree in Astronomy from the Univ. of Western Sydney, and a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Alabama. Dr. Taylor has worked on various programs for the Department of Defense and NASA for the past sixteen years. He is currently working on several advanced propulsion concepts, very large space telescopes, space based beamed energy systems, future combat technologies and systems, and next generation space launch concepts. He is also involved with multiple MASINT, SIGINT, IMINT, and HUMINT concept studies. He has published over 25 papers and the appendix on solar sailing in the 2nd edition of Deep Space Probes by Greg Matloff.
Dr. Bob Boan has been an active member of the space community for over a quarter of a century. He has worked on a variety of manned and unmanned space programs at different levels of responsibility over that time. Prior to his space experience he was a member of graduate school in several states. Dr. Boan is also recognized as a community expert on SIGINT, IMINT, and Communication systems and concepts. He also has significant MASINT experience. He has multiple relevant patents and technical publications. Dr. Boan has attended a variety of colleges and universities. He received his BS from Campbell University, then Campbell College. His Masters was awarded by the University of Mississippi. He earned his doctorate at the Florida Institute of Technology.
Charles Anding received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State University in 1978. He has additional studies in systems engineering, digital signal processing and electromagnetic environmental effects. Mr. Anding has applied his creativity and expertise to solve a diversity of engineering problems for over 25 years. He has designed electronics and systems for space, military, industrial and medical products. He was the prime contractor's chief engineer for the design and development of a furnace system to grow semiconductor crystals in microgravity on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. He supported its use on multiple Spacelab missions, including training of the astronauts and sitting console for payload operations Mr. Anding was the chief engineer, along with Dr. Taylor as chief scientist, for the development of a novel new mission and spacecraft for exploring Pluto. He has designed and supported equipment on Navy fighter aircraft, Army main battle tanks, and attack helicopters. Non-invasive cardiac monitors for medical market, industrial robotics for the nuclear segment and user authorized handguns are just a few more examples of his broad experience base. He is currently designing controls for demilitarization of binary chemical weapons and beginning research and development for future fuel cell based power systems for rugged environments as well as building unmanned aerial vehicles for defense purposes. Dr. Thomas Conley Powell holds a B.A. in physics from Berea College, an M.S. in engineering science from the University of Tennessee Space Institute, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Kentucky. He is a senior scientist with BAE Systems in Huntsville, Alabama. Before joining BAE, he was a faculty member at the Space Institute; a member of the technical staff at Arnold Engineering Development Center, near Tullahoma, Tennessee; and a member of the technical staff of Teledyne Brown Engineering, in Huntsville. He has taught graduate courses in subjects ranging from astrophysics to nuclear engineering, and has worked in areas as diverse as aircraft control and nuclear fusion. However, his specialties are space trajectories, attitude dynamics, and numerical analysis. Recently he has developed an innovative fire-control system for artillery and surface-to-surface and surface-to-space rockets. He is writing a textbook on orbital mechanics.
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I did get a sense of the authors' passion of the subject matter. Certainly, boring details aside, they plainly state their opposition to others who cite less than obvious, apples-to-oranges mathematical/ probability models to disprove any likelihood of intelligent alien life. As much, the authors are clearly particularly opposed to those who adhere to the belief in advanced ETs who adhere to a benign utopian ideal. One author tellingly relates a past personal confrontation with the late Carl Sagan, in which Dr. Sagan reportedly patently refused to discuss even the possibility of hostile aliens. In this light, such non-substantive errors may be construed as urgency for an opinion to be heard, and to be taken seriously.
Multiple mainstream scifi/space opera references are made, in a seeming attempt to find common ground with the reader of average knowledge/interest; however, several chapters are devoted to mathematical modeling that likely makes many of those same readers either accept these hypotheses as granted (counter to the whole point of the exercises), or skip over such chapters completely. Also, while some such references have clear credibility (for example, the clandestine research facilities in Robert Heinlein's "Sixth Column"), others are somewhat lacking (notably, references to the film "Independence Day"). And some references obvious to my generation of readers (say, Larry Niven's "The Ethics of Madness") are conspicuously absent (possibly due to copyright issues?). Thus, the book teeters somewhere between reference text and pulp entertainment.
Having said all that, I found they do get their point across; the probability of ET existing, being more advanced AND dangerously hostile demonstrably outweighs the possibility of humans being adrift alone in the universe, or accompanied by the beatific angels supposedly "evolved" past all conflict; indeed, the latter viewpoint appears naive (bordering on childish). And if they are out there, we really should be doing something to prepare, other than sending out "WE ARE HERE" messages to anyone who might be listening. To paraphrase Heller, it isn't paranoia if they ARE indeed out to get you, just simple common sense.
I really wanted to like this book. Particularly, other works by Dr. Taylor that I'd read displayed impressive technical knowledge and ideas, and I was looking forward to reading something honest and serious. So while I can easily recommend it to those with similar opinions (that is, if they can stomach technical references to "Independence Day"), I honestly don't know if it would convince someone sitting on the fence, much less on the other side.
Lastly, there's one aspect of Dr. Sagan (as well as Robert Heinlein, Stephen King and even the Church of Scientology) the authors (and publisher) could adopt: release the book in standard mass-market paperback form, at STANDARD PRICES. Almost everything I've ever owned or read by Sagan, Heinlein or Arthur C. Clarke (or for that matter, Niven, Steinbeck, Conan Doyle and the Boy Scout Manual) was in good, old, relatively affordable, easy-to-carry paperback, not some expensive soft-cover pseudo-textbook. If the authors feel their message is that important, they should give the public an alternative to "Cosmos", which even in hardback doesn't cost $34.95. I hold some hope for a revised edition.
Some interesting ideas, and might be worth buying for about a third of the price.
EDIT TO ADD: If you really think the risk of alien invasion is worth the unaccountable spending by sub-competent engineers and scientists that this book recommends, you should read Charles Stross's essay,[...] , discussing the near impossibility of travel over interstellar distances.
Dr. Taylor's book provides the same type of background information on tactics, strategy, and alternatives as we used in formulating effective missions. The information is concise and informative, and yet engagingly written. This book needs to be on the reading list of every Intelligence officer as well as part of the reading for mid-level and higher Officer Development, and definitely covered during War College attendence.
And, frankly, it's also a interesting read, and would also make an interesting special for something like the Discovery Network. While written as a scholarly textbook, the level is suitable for the average college graduate.
No, I do mean serious. While the authors use both a lot of history and science fiction to develop realistic ideas of why and how invaders may come to take over the Earth they steps they suggest to prepare for the future conflicts are deadly serious.
Ideas on weapons development, long term defense plans, tactics to be used, the organization needed to prepare, even a suggested organizational structure and a budget.
The book seems to jump around, from powered suits to hover tanks, from the Drake Equation to Fermi's Blunder, from Stargate to World War Two. But it really does stay on track, following the logic, asking the questions we fear to answer, then showing us the answers. What is the answer? Well, we may wish to do what they suggest - Prepare now and survive later.
Most recent customer reviews
Thorough, exhaustive and impersonal.
Very, very useful for planners.
Initially i was put off by its dryness.Read more