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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Return to the Moon - Review

It is finally here:

Return to the Moon – Edited by Rick N. Tumlinson with Erin R. Medlicott

Return to the Moon is a collection of short essays about different aspects of our return to the moon after thirty years. In the words of Mr. Tumlinson:

It is an anthology of essays by more than 20 authors covering a broad spectrum of ideas and concepts revolving around a permanent human return to the Moon.

This book is a good introduction for the beginning space enthusiast who doesn’t understand the difference between the approaches prescribed by private space and NASA. While most of the essays lean towards the private space argument as a whole, both sides of the debate are represented. While a hard-core “alt-spacer” might not get as much out of it as a someone new to the debate, I think that all these concepts put together in place could generate a lot of new ideas.

The essays in this book are varied and interesting. There are many ideas I had not heard or considered along with some standard points on the economics of space flight and colonization. The essays flowed well together and the book was easy to read. Rick Tumlinson’s comments about each author at the beginning of his/her essay were very helpful in understanding the author’s point-of-view in the debate.

Some of the ideas will seem fantastic, such as Dr Mike Ryan’s nuclear idea of throwing hazardous waste into orbit with a mass driver. Other essays had me yelling at the book, like Robert Zimmerman’s characterization of the Virginia as a “miserable and wretched place to live” which offended my southern sensibilities. While there are some questionable assertions made in many of the essays, this book inspires intelligent debate and that is always good.

The photos and artwork in the center of the book were done well and I think overall the book was layout well. However, there were some typos in the book that were distracting. Also, it would have been nice to have each essay’s title at the top of the page.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone interested in going to the moon.

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