SPACE 2069

AFTER APOLLO: BACK TO THE MOON, TO MARS...AND BEYOND

A fine overview of the past and future of human space exploration.

Expert speculation on the next 50 years of space travel.

Former BBC science correspondent Whitehouse has done his homework, so technically savvy readers will find little to quarrel with, and there is no chance that his predictions will be worse than those following the Apollo missions. During the exhilaration of the 1969 moon landings, most observers believed that the possibilities for space travel were endless. Older space buffs will remember when, in 1972, Richard Nixon cancelled further Apollo flights and junked the rockets and capsules. No human has been back to the moon since, but the ice is breaking. NASA’s scheduled return to the moon in 2028 seems guaranteed because Congress voted to fund the mission. Donald Trump’s 2019 announcement that he wants the landing in 2024 thrilled space buffs, including the author. However, that will require more money, which neither the president nor Congress seems interested in providing. Whitehouse delivers a skillful history of space exploration, paying special attention to the moon and emphasizing problems solved during Apollo and those that still require solutions in order to establish a permanent base. By 2069, he predicts that an international moon base will be up and running. In his scenario, there will also be a separate Chinese base. The author reminds readers that the U.S. banned China from participating in the space station and forbade NASA researchers from collaborating with that nation’s space scientists. China has an energetic space program, and Whitehouse does not doubt that the Chinese plan to avenge that insult. A realist, Whitehouse emphasizes that, without a major breakthrough in rocket technology, travel to Mars will test the limits of human endurance and willingness to bear the expense. His forecast for 2069 is a struggling 18-man international base on Mars. China will have its own.

A fine overview of the past and future of human space exploration.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78578-646-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Icon Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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