Book Reviews and Recommended Reading
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Opinions expressed are those of the reviewers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Space Society. To get a book reviewed by NSS: send query with book description to [email protected] Do NOT send attached files with your query. Do NOT mail books to the NSS address. We usually respond to queries within 10 days. Note: review copies must be provided free. They can be electronic, but books must also be available in print. We are ONLY interested in books about human exploration and settlement of space.
The subtitle presents the book as a history of the International Space Station. However, it is also a complete summary of the path to the ISS by those who envisioned an Earth-orbiting outpost in space, long before humans had the ability to travel there. The book is a remarkable work for its depth and breadth and for the historical insights it conveys. It was commissioned by the Johnson Space Center and was done under a NASA Space Act Agreement.
Although this book is impressive and information-filled, is profusely illustrated with excellent pictures and associated captions, and is authored by three individuals with exceptional credentials, it is marred by a disjointed presentation and at least 18 notable errors.
A potential Earth-destroying disaster looms, so humanity must establish a colony on Mars soon. This is the premise driving Arcadia Mars. Though fiction, this story portrays a thoroughly detailed and plausible program for settlement based on a realistic extrapolation of technology into the near future.
Sometimes, young adult novels from the past define the desired values and “pulse” of an entire era. One book series, very aggressively marketed to teenage boys in the early 1960s, is the “Mike Mars” series written by science fiction author Donald A. Wollheim, and published by Doubleday.
If the goal is to inspire and inform a younger generation to be involved in space, including lunar settlement in particular, Dyson’s book accomplishes this in spades. I highly recommend it for students, teachers and parents.
Anyone wanting to get a Giant Moon Map and a set of copies of this book for their favorite school can apply at aldrinfoundation.org/giant-moon-map.
Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, by Suzanne Slade. Reviewed by Clifford R. McMurray. Especially wonderful about this children’s book about Apollo are the illustrations by Thomas Gonzales that adorn almost every page—some of the finest space art I’ve ever seen. For the beauty of the story and the artwork, Countdown has won a number of well-deserved awards, including the National Science Teachers Association award for best STEM book of 2019.