Category Archives: Space books

Stephen Hawking on why humans should go to space + Arthur C. Clarke reads an excerpt from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stephen Hawking wrote an afterword to the new book How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight and it is reprinted here: I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space – The Guardian. He talks about his experience of weightlessness aboard the ZERO G parabolic flight aircraft and about why he believes space development and settlement is so important.

I believe in the possibility of commercial space travel – for exploration and for the preservation of humanity. I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space. We need to inspire the next generation to become engaged in space and in science in general, to ask questions: What will we find when we go to space? Is there alien life, or are we alone? What will a sunset on Mars look like?

My wheels are here on Earth, but I will keep dreaming. It is my belief, and it is the message of Julian Guthrie’s book, for which I have written the afterword, that there is no boundary of human endeavour. Raise your sights. Be courageous and kind. Remember to look up at the stars and not at your feet. Space, here I come!


Here is a reading by Arthur C. Clarke from a section of his book 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is his version of the story told in the movie: Hear Arthur C. Clarke Read 2001: A Space Odyssey: A Vintage 1976 Vinyl Recording | Open Culture

Video: Andy Weir – “The Martian: How Science Drove the Plot”

In a good sign that there are likely to be more space movies with realistic-style plots in the coming years, The Martian continues to rack up solid box office numbers – currently at $392,038,124 worldwide. Author Andy Weir has given lots of talks and interviews, many linked from here, but there is always room for another, especially for someone like Weir who gives such entertaining presentations. This video is from a talk this past summer at NASA Ames and was titled, The Martian: How Science Drove the Plot

“The Orbital Perspective” – astronaut Ron Garan’s new book

Astronaut Ron Garan shared many wonderful images of earth with the public via social media during his stay aboard the International Space Station. He has now written a book about his time in space and about the special view of earth available from there: The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles.


John Blake Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of The Orbital Perspective: An Astronaut’s View by Colonel Ron Garan. This thrilling narrative explores Garan’s extraordinary life, from fighter pilot turned astronaut and reveals how his life transformed in a way that he could never have foreseen.

Garan’s perspective of life on Earth changed entirely when he became one of only a handful of humans to have seen the stunningly rare and fragile beauty of earth from space. His views of earth as a tiny marble 240 miles below him, led him to see a way forward without divisions of race, nations or religion.

As founder of the ‘Fragile Oasis’ project, Garan aimed to connect the orbital perspective and scientific expertise of astronauts, with those on earth in an attempt to make a difference.

Along the lines of Chris Hadfield’s An Astronauts to Life, this utterly unique memoir combines 177 days spent in space, with a powerful message of the need for optimism, trust and global collaboration in order to sustain our way of life. It asks humanity to come together so as to protect the most valuable space station of all – the Earth.


‘Unique… reminds us of our common humanity and that the pressing challenges we face,
we must face and resolve together’

Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Laureate

The Orbital Perspective by Ron Garan is published by
John Blake Publishing
in hardback on 5th November 2015. 


“Farside” – a new book by Patrick Chiles

Patrick Chiles, author of  Perigee (see my review here), has just released a new book titled, Farside.

A missing spacecraft –
A missing spacecraft –
A cryptic message –
And a fearsome secret hidden in plain sight.

Five years after being stranded in Earth orbit, Ryan Hunter must travel even farther to find the man who saved his life.
Hunter and former astronaut Penny Stratton are launched headfirst into a threat beyond anything they ever imagined. Carrying an unconventional rescue team into a confrontation with space-age hijackers, they already know the stakes are incredibly high.

What they can’t know is that the fate of millions rests on their shoulders. And someone wants to keep it that way.

Because something big is coming…

Patrick tells me

Farside is still set in a world where commercial spaceflight has become mostly routine, but it’s a much bigger story [than the one in Perigee].

I’ve been told it feels like a mashup of Apollo 13 and Hunt for Red October.

Farside is now available in Kindle format.

Review: “Fury of the Fifth Angel” by Pat and Chris Hoffman

There have been a number of books and movies about the end of the earth when a not-so heavenly object descends with extreme prejudice upon our helpless little planet. In Fury of the Fifth AngelPat and Chris Hoffman depict a scenario short of total oblivion by a space salvo but devastating none the less. Coming from a background in the power industry, they give a realistic portrayal of how civilization quickly descends into chaos as our utilities and other services switch off during a catastrophic cosmic pelting.

This book, Part I in a series, introduces a large number of characters in a diversity of places and backgrounds who participate in several parallel subplots. They illustrate the many ways such an event would impact, so to speak, a complex modern society, which can revert surprisingly quickly to a raw primitive condition. Presumably Part II will follow these characters as they struggle to survive in the chaos following a cataclysm and to rebuild their society.

With so many characters, it’s not too surprising that most are one dimensional and only a few stretch into 2-D, while none have any great depth. But it is the disaster – before, during and afterwards – that is being depicted and the characters are drawn well enough to profile it in vivid 3-D.

There is a lengthy build up to the action from above and a focus in more than one of the subplots on efforts of the powers-that-be to keep quiet the approaching threat. In a day when most any celestial object that can be seen by one observer is quickly found by multiple observers all of whom race to be the first to report the discovery on line, the suggestion that such a finding could be suppressed is unrealistic. Furthermore, it is clearly nearly impossible to keep secrets these days in government and in large organizations, especially dramatic earth-shaking kinds of secrets.

That said, Fury of the Fifth Angel is a fun and thought-provoking read that provides a fine contribution to the celestial catastrophe genre.