Science journalist Nadis (The Man from Mars) delivers a thought-provoking look at the scientists, space fans, and industrialists determined to settle humanity among the stars. The author spotlights early science fiction works, such as Jules Verne’s 1865 From the Earth to the Moon, as the fuel that powered the imaginations of rocketry pioneers including Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, American Robert Goddard, and “German rocket scientist turned Space Age idol” Wernher von Braun. Today, billionaires Jeff Bezos (himself inspired by Star Trek) and Elon Musk, as well as other moguls, oversee their own private rocket firms, motivated both by the chance of profit—such as through tourism or mining—and the dream of helping humanity escape climate change and other pressing terrestrial problems. Nadis shows where these futurists diverge in their goals—some, like Bezos, believe humanity’s best chance lies in moving to orbiting space colonies, while others look to Mars, among them Musk and aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society. What Nadis finds they all have in common is a passionate vision, summed up by astronomer Carl Sagan’s declaration that “all civilizations become either spacefaring or extinct,” which Nadis finds both inspiring and unrealistic. With this grounded but far-reaching treatise, Nadis introduces readers to some fascinating dreams of the future. (Aug.)
National Space Society
"Nadis is an excellent writer—the prose flows easily off the page and into your mind. I call this “transparent writing”—writing so lucid you don’t feel like you are reading, but that the ideas are zipping directly into your brain. Nadis has done extensive personal research to support the book, including journeys to interesting places and interviews with long-time but little-known space settlement advocates like Peter Kokh, editor of the Moon Miner’s Manifesto and distinguished NSS leader."
"Through keen insights, humorous anecdotes, and personal details, Star Settlers pulls us lightyears away while keeping its feet firmly planted on the Earth.
"Star Settlers is a brilliant survey of a long century of schemes for the human colonization of the heavens and the eccentric promoters who have launched them, from Wernher von Braun to Elon Musk. Combining a historian’s insights with a keen sense of character, detail, and good humor, Fred Nadis traces the trajectory of our utopian spacefaring dreams in a way it has never been mapped.
PhD] The Wall Street Journal [praise for Fred Nadis
"Makes a lasting imprint. Entertaining."
PhD] Locus [praise for Fred Nadis
"Well-written and entertaining. Invaluable insights into the science fiction world.”"
PhD] The Washington Post [praise for Fred Nadis
"Insightful and exemplary. Significant as well as intriguing."
Locus [praise for Fred Nadis
Well-written and entertaining. Invaluable insights into the science fiction world.
The Washington Post [praise for Fred Nadis
Insightful and exemplary. Significant as well as intriguing.
The Wall Street Journal [praise for Fred Nadis
Makes a lasting imprint. Entertaining.
Scientific and philosophical testimony on the possibilities of interstellar relocation.
In his third book, Nadis merges space science and technology in an intermittently fascinating exploration of the human quest to mine extraterrestrial lands for habitation. Admittedly “slow to warm to science fiction,” the author eventually came to appreciate the genre’s creative exploration of new worlds and how real-life space programs expound on those same ideas to make them a reality. Nadis discusses the increasing relevancy of human spaceflight and entertainingly details how the possibilities of space travel moved from the conceptions of astronomer Camille Flammarion, German aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, and author H.G. Wells into the contemporary landscape, in which some believe in the possibility of terraforming Mars. Nadis smoothly weaves in the progressive history of artificial biospheres and space colonization. However impressive these details may read and despite ambitious modern technological advances, however, experts report the effort of “rejuvenating a dead planet and creating of it a new Earth” will remain an enormously costly and risky project fraught with unseen complications. Leading the way in the space tourism business is billionaire Elon Musk, a spaceflight visionary whom Nadis spotlights prominently for his aggressive pursuit of Mars colonization. The author shows how initiatives like his SpaceX international rocket, along with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin program and smaller-scaled NASA programs, are collectively remapping the future possibilities of space travel. Noting the ever evolving social acceptance of interplanetary spaceflight, Nadis stresses that what was once considered “fringe thought” has now become a cosmic race very much in the mainstream. Citing journals, exhibits, academic texts, and interviews with space innovators and other experts, the author provides a solid, sometimes wondrous introduction to a field that is just beginning to show signs of promise.
A futuristic, optimistic, and intellectually stimulating report for space enthusiasts or readers with celestial wanderlust. (16 pages of color photos)