- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Little Brown & Co; Reprint edition (August 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316771635
- ISBN-13: 978-0316771634
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 66 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps Reprint Edition
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From Kirkus Reviews
In this boldly optimistic manifesto, Savage proclaims a master plan for the human race: to spread life throughout the galaxy. To many, space exploration seems irrelevant to Earth's real problems; but humanity may in fact have no other way to secure its long-term survival. To remain confined to Earth, Savage claims, is to court extinction, possibly within a few decades. Savage (an engineer who has established the Millennial Foundation to promote space exploration) outlines his program for transferring a significant portion of humanity off-planet. The crucial first step is to colonize the ocean surface with floating cities, quadrupling the living space available to the growing population of Earth. This allows us to reverse the degradation of the environment by shifting to the thermal energy of the deep ocean as our primary power source. At the same time, spirulina algae (already on sale in health food stores) becomes a major new food crop. The hardware for these oceanic colonies is already within practical reach: Savage provides a detailed inventory of how his floating cities would work and support themselves, with copious citations of the scientific literature. Once this move is well underway, it frees up energy and resources for the next steps. Improved space vehicles make possible orbiting space colonies, then settlements on the moon. A larger step is terraforming Mars--creating an atmosphere and a water supply for our lifeless neighbor to form a human habitat. On an even longer time scale, the race can expand into the rest of the solar system: asteroids and the moons of other planets. Ultimately, artificial habitats may completely surround the sun. With the resources of an entire solar system at our command, according to Savage, humanity can at last send out emissaries to other stars. The stuff of science fiction? Of course--but rigorously built from existing science, carefully documented, and convincingly argued. Highly recommended. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The main reason the first 75% of the book is a chore to get through is because Savage attempts to establish credibility with his audience by assertively providing all sorts of details on engineering design and economics with only sketchy references to a few pages of works in his huge bibliography.
And some of his technical ideas are simply ludicrous. As a sensible alternative to fuel-hungry rockets, he wants to send payload to space on gigantic ice cubes riding on high-powered lasers!! Also, as a remedy for human loss of bone and muscle in zero-gravity space, Savage suggests applying electric stimulation to ourselves on a daily basis and while we sleep! Finally, Savage lost all technical credibility with me when he vastly misjudged the distances in a scale model of Earth, the Moon, and Venus. If Earth is the size of a grapefruit, he claims Venus is something like 40 miles away. If he had done the simple math, he would have discovered that the farthest Venus gets on that scale is something like a couple miles away, and it gets as close as 1/3 mile away at inferior conjunction. He made a similar huge error on the Moon. Did anyone proofread this book?
Also, the Utopian economics of Savage's step-by-step plan are vastly underestimated. Each of his eight steps would consume the entire American work force for years. Add to this the fact that Savage is quite a poor writer (even though he majored in English) and you have a near-disaster on your hands. He makes all sorts of cliched remarks and tries to sound eloquent as if he's writing an epic poem or something (he even calls himself a bard at one point), but fails miserably in this regard. Just read the introduction for a fine example of this. I can't see why Arthur Clarke put his "seal of approval" on this work since it only lowers his credibility.
The one saving grace for this book is the last 25%, which makes for interesting hypothetical reading. Colonizing the galaxy is a topic likely to fire the imagination and Savage does an adequate job of making this part interesting. But the meat of the book, Savage's "plan" for escaping the "multiplying yeast in a bottle" that is people on Earth, is simply not worth your time.
This is how the prelude begins. A sentence that leaves one speechless. Like a patron of the fair just coming to a stop in the roller coaster's chair, in the sudden pulling-back into oneself their senses, realizing they've stopped, and semi-confused evaluation of what that just was. All before the final argument for humanities destiny begins, since it was a prelude.
I could not help to laugh at , "So there it is". After 364 pages of highly condensed motivational speech, instruction manual, technical manual, chemist, geography, physic, astrophysics, ect, ect, The sheer volume of information and argument for the case in those 364 pages is staggering!
The portion about information-theory and extraterrestrial life, for example, is one portion I have read over four times. I am also the type of person who has watched every episode of X-files, Ancient Aliens, every cinematic movie and documentary I come across on 'aliens'. Yet, Due to strength of argument alone, and a means to calculate and present those calculations to a judge of possibility, has me siding with Savage on the questions stemming from the Fermi paradox. "Where is everyone?"
This is how well Savage constructs and delivers arguments. It's like a self-help guru for biolphilia, motivating and instructing humanity for the colonization empty spaces through poetry and altruism for ALL life, but the foundation of the message is not in the next life - it's about this 'realty' - or even in the logic of a conceptual space argument - like, how religions might appeal to universals or unknowns(a fallacy) - It's in math and the numbers alone. Savage's 'next life' is not a place, it's a form, and the hashed out ethical and metaphysical views can be tallied by an accountant; a robot accountant without the need of faith, at that.
Faith in the numbers. Faith in humanity is another question. This is a primary reason, I believe, the message of colonization is so pushed through the book - you get tired of it. It's such a condensed text book, you feel as if your departing for a mission, and all the while, the chorus of this technical song is, "we can do this, and we must"
This book is VERY well argued.
For example, when researching criticisms of the book, most people argue, "he made no attempt at psychology or sociology". This alone tells you how well done the book is, because in the book, Savage does mention how oceanic cities, underwater cities, floating cities, will give humanity enough time to hash out what kind of social structure and ethics will accompany earths organisms into space. He also mentions, that until conditions are met and observations made, like those similar to xeno-colonial conditions, we cant come to know how to structure ourselves.
As a person with both a BA is psych and philosophy, and being a 'functionalist' with a deep regard for philosophy of mind (which means I find something 'more' to beings, than just their processes in parts, since they have emergent qualities, like that of the experience of quale and sacrificial altruism), I side with Savage's reasoning. In that, human decisions might be backwards-rational all together, if not, a product of novel action produced by a slim differential foundation of genes, [potentially] influenced by EVERY environmental stimuli from egg, to womb, to wake. Ergo, any 'plan' for an emergent mind of individual variety, In human and every other terrestrial lifeforms that accompanies man with mind, can not be known until it is in the environment and observed (or, in an environment modeled after the one in question). That takes experiments, and ethical ones at that. It takes volunteers years of isolation or confinement, monotony of food longitudinal studies, or sleep deprecation patterns in low-oxygen environments, ect. . . .The sheer volume of experimentation and observation, involving construction companies and ethical committees is astounding, for Savage to ever attempt to answer this criticism.
Rightly so, as Plato's 'most wise man in Athens' might be expressed, in that it's not, if you don't know much about the topic.Since we cant know until we try, as Savage mentions, he is right to avoid the topic outside his mentions.
In summery: This is a fun book. It's a very loose plan, extending into very condensed technical theory, using lots of data, to make an argument for life's continued existence. That's the book in a nut shell. In reading it, it opens up like a story, with flowery adjectives abound, and never sheds that dash of art when it turns into a survival manual for a dieing earth and vulnerable biomass.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is alot of fun if one does not try to take it too seriously.The Survival ImperativeRead more