PALE BLUE DOT by Carl Sagan


A Vision of the Human Future in Space
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 This logical successor to Cosmos (1980) offers the characteristic Sagan blueprint for humankind's long-term vitality. In 1990, while speeding out of the solar system, the Voyager 1 spacecraft snapped photographs of the planets. From a distance of 3.7 billion miles, the Earth appears as a ``pale blue dot''--a metaphor Sagan (Astronomy and Space Sciences/Cornell Univ.) employs to underscore the utter insignificance of our home world in relation to the great expanse of space. In his usual eloquent and impassioned language, he builds a cogent argument that our species must venture into this vast realm and establish a space-faring civilization. Fully acknowledging the exorbitant costs that are involved in manned spaceflight while we concurrently face pressing social, economic, and environmental problems at home, Sagan asserts that our very survival depends on colonizing outer space. Astronomers have already identified dozens of potential Armageddons in the form of asteroids that will someday smash into Earth. Undoubtedly, many more remain undetected. The only way to avert inevitable catastrophe, Sagan argues, is for nations to join together and establish a permanent human presence in space. Ultimately, he predicts, humans will conquer space because, like the planets that roam the sky (``planet'' means ``wanderer'' in Greek), we too are wanderers. Deep within us lies a spark that compels us to explore, and space provides the new frontier. The exploration of space will inspire the world's young people and unify quarreling nations. Technology has brought humanity to its moment of truth: Our species has the capability either to annihilate itself or to avoid extinction by journeying to other worlds. The preferable choice is obvious to Sagan. The book lacks even the semblance of a specific plan for achieving a space-faring civilization. Nevertheless, Sagan will once again dazzle readers with his brilliance and breadth of vision. (Photos and illustrations, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-43841-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994


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