While there are many accessible books on SETI, surprisingly few have been written on astrobiology. This is undoubtedly one of the best and most current. The material is so fresh that many of the references are to work published in 2000 and even the early part of 2001. In little more than 200 pages, Darling covers almost every major aspect of the subject and provides a balanced treatment of issues such as the SNC meteorites, extrasolar planets, and the importance to life's origins of exogenous organic matter. He also addresses areas of astrobiology, including panspermia, that were once considered far-fetched but are now beginning to enter the mainstream. I noted only one significant omission. Darling's discussion of life's origins is excellent but focusses almost entirely on "hardware" - the source of the chemicals of life; we are left to wonder about the source of biological information or "software". Otherwise, this is really a very good, very lucid book indeed. But, oh dear! It seems that one individual has been submitting a number of tawdry reviews under various pseudonyms ("Adolf", etc) in an ill-concealed attempt to discredit the author and his work. I'm glad to see that most of these have been removed. But how sad that this very effective forum is marred by silly people with alternative agendas.
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