THE GIANT LEAP by Adrian Berry


Mankind Heads for the Stars
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Travel to the stars, long a staple of SF, is the subject of this optimistic look at our race’s future.

For Berry, longtime science correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph, the exploration of worlds beyond our own solar system is a given. As a means to this end, he directs our attention to antimatter drives, Bussard ramjets, and light sails, all of which are theoretically capable of getting a ship to the nearest stars in some acceptable fraction of a human lifetime. Nor does he ignore the question of how to shield passengers from the tremendous energies some of these devices can be expected to emit. There is due consideration of provisioning a years-long voyage through regions with no place to renew supplies—and the more one carries along, of course, the greater the demands for fuel and power, already stretched to the breaking point. One likely solution is recycling on a hitherto-unknown scale; in theory, one can take any organic substance (say, used tires) and turn it into food. Another is keeping the majority of the passengers in suspended animation, possibly by lowering their bodies to cryogenic temperatures. Elaborate computer games may be developed to help those of the crew who do remain awake to pass the lonely hours of deep space travel. Spacious accommodations for exercise will be essential if the space travelers are to arrive at the end of their journey in condition to begin a colony on an alien world. Never mind that even the shortest interstellar voyage could bankrupt most nations, or that the technology described here exists only in rudimentary form, if at all. Berry is interested in the big picture—and readers who can balance enthusiasm with healthy skepticism are likely to enjoy the ride, even when the details remain unclear.

Blue-sky speculation on the grandest possible scale.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-87785-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2001