THE HIGH ROAD by Ben Bova

THE HIGH ROAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Off we go into the wild blue yonder--not for space colonies, at least not yet--but to solve the energy crisis, create new jobs above and below, mine the moon, shuttle to low orbit way-stations between here and the asteroids, tend to solarpower satellites, and fulfill other dreams of power and glory. Ben Bova is both a science-fiction and a science writer, and he's also worked for aerospace companies. He can review America's and Russia's space programs with cogency and accuracy. What mars this generally articulate and easy-to-understand explanation of space how-to is the overenthusiastic, often belligerent voice. Bova would like to woo the environmentalists and liberals to the space cause, but he does this by calling them Luddites; and his kind of good guys are "Prometheans." Moreover, there is such an air of manifest destiny about his stance--space is there for us freeenterprise smart ones to exploit; so let's dump our radioactive waste, get the gold and silver and power out--that one's moral feelings are offended. Noting those qualms, it must also be noted that Bova is fun to read on the feasibility of burning hydrogen gas in our cars right now; on the potential of magnetohydrodynamic sources of energy (controlled nuclear fusion); on the promise--and problems--of Solar Power Satellites that would beam microwaves at huge earth-based antennas. He does not omit the possible hazards of microwaves, nor the danger of military takeovers of peacetime space stations. Indeed, probably the most telling argument in the book is that civilians ought to get into the act, exercising as much power and control over the uses of space as they can; if they don't, space will be totally lost to the military. That, at least, is an argument that will not be lost on environmentalists--who might otherwise be tempted to leave the book to enthusiasts altogether.
Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1981
ISBN: 0671458051
Page count: 310pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1981




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