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Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space Paperback – January 25, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A fascinating selection of "Analog" magazine's finest articles by leading researchers and science writers. Contains an astonishing range of new proposals for space travel and colonization including plans for the exploration of Mars, ideas for interstellar travel at the speed of light and the process of terraforming other planets to accommodate human life. Describes the latest in space exploration research and development by the world's foremost astronautic engineers.

From the Back Cover

"Let the meek inherit the earth--the rest of us are going to the stars! Here's how it's going to be done." -- Robert Zubrin

"These articles are not 'just science fiction.' They are things we can do--and with any luck at all, and vision and determination, we will." -- Stanley Schmidt

Take off on a thrilling journey of space exploration and speculation--to the realm where science fiction becomes science fact--as leading writers, researchers, and astronautic engineers describe a not-too-distant future of interstellar travel and colonization. From cable cars that ride "skyhooks" into space to rockets that can refuel out of Martian air, from "terraforming" planets (a process that makes them habitable for human life) to faster-than-light propulsion systems, Islands in the Sky offers an astonishing collection of challenging--and plausible--ideas and proposals from the pages of Analog magazine. Brilliant and provocative, here is fun-filled reading for everyone interested in science, technology, and the future.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471135615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471135616
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,025,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The m on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent collection of essay by the leading producers of cool, far-out ideas alive today. Just reading it will expand your horizons and help you look at the final frontier in a new way.
Some of the essays, such as G. Harry Stine's on Single-Stage to Orbit spacecraft, are on near-term science and technology. Other essays, such as "Islands in the Sky," are longer-term and closer to science fiction. All are good.
My personal opinion is that the asteroids -- not the planets -- are the future of mankind, so the Mars-exploration essays by Zubrin et al. I found less enthralling. But you Mars fans out there NEED this book.
The essay, "The Economics of Interstellar Commerce" alone makes this book worth the cost.
Although I enjoyed John Lewis's _Mining the Sky_ more (simply because my bent is toward the asteroids), this book is better written and required reading. 4 stars.
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I'm giving this five stars for the benefit of the chapters by Robert Zubrin and Martyn Fogg, which are ingenious and daringly original analyses of astronautic engineering and terraforming, respectively - each is the godfather of his field. The other material ranges from curiously quirky but not well-thought out (on terraforming Venus) to the kind of worthlessly unintelligent and uninteresting speculations you might expect to overhear from some goon at the bookstore but not to read in print (see the chapter on settling the Oort Cloud). This book was assembled as a "best of" selection from Analog; in a better world it would have been edited by the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, which would have known where to make the cutoff. Still, the good entries are fantastic enough to be well worth the purchase price.
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Format: Paperback
The book deals with ideas about making space travel easy and colonizing space simple. The first few chapters deal with getting out of the gravity well we call Earth with known science and equipment. The next deal with using the resources that could be found on the Moon, Mars, Mercury and even the Oort Cloud (as well as planting a few colonies here and there)with the knowledge we have and the equipment we could have soon. After that is starts to get harder to picture doing all this projects with current technology. By chapter 8, for explain, we are dealing with terraforming and star engineering. Near the end of the book, starting with chapter 11 we are talking about interstellar space ships and the economices of interstellar commerce. But by than, you think all of it can be done! Each chapter helps to hold up the next one. For example, cheap, easy ways to get into space would cut the cost of space travel and allow for the next step which is exploring the planets and finding resources to help the next step.
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I found Islands in the Sky a very entertaining, enlightening and uplifting book to read. It boldly addresses a wide range of subjects dealing with space exploration and appears to come up with concrete answers! There is an underlying optimism in the whole book that given human ingenuity, anything is possible. This is a far cry from the many 'post-modern' books that crowd store bookshelves seeking to convince us that science is not the answer, that mankind is bad and its actions are always in conflict with the environemnt. This book speaks to those of us who believe that we are the masters of our universe.
Some chapters are too abstruse and perhaps only for the specialist, but most of the book is eminently readable. A must for every space enthusiast.
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Stanley Schmidt and Robert Zubrin have edited a better than average/good book. I'm a big fan of Dr. Robert Zubrin the president of the Mars Society I belong to.

I read but couldn't get into the chapter about The Hypersonic Skyhook by Robert Zubrin. Don't think it could ever work. I'm not an engineer and there were lots of difficult equations. Time consuming. If your not an engineer you may want to skip parts of this. I just think the idea is a bunch of baloney.

Mars Direct by Robert Zubrin and David Baker was great... super 5 stars. INMO it could really work using technology today not some possible super expensive weirdo technology that would have to be developed. Robert's Colonizing the Outer Solar System was great too, as was the Terraforming Mars section by Zubrin and Christopher McKay.

Robert Zubrins Magnetic Sail idea was interesting but again with difficult equations. For me difficult to follow.

C. Harry Stine's... Comes the Revolution was a little dry but interesting.

Some of the other chapters like Dr. Robert L Forward's The Negative Matter space drive were more like science fiction and too far in the future technology for me to get seriously interested in. More boring equations.

There is a part of the book about colonies in the Ort Cloud and their quest for energy and about how that civilization will be different than on Earth. Interesting but I am more interested in what may happen in my children's life time...like using Zubrin's Semi Direct plan for us to send 4 people to Mars to explore it for 1 1/2 years using technology of today and by using a multinational approch for it to be affordable.

Part 4 of the book was interesting but too far in the future like John Cramer's The Tachyon drive, and Dr.
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