Captured by aliens : the search for life and truth in a very large universe /
Joel Achenbach.
New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, c1999.
415 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
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New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, c1999.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1999-11-01:
Journalist Achenbach has devoted much effort over the past several years to studying a broad spectrum of views on the question of extraterrestrial life, extending his inquiry from the most hard-nosed scientists to the most credulous, irrational members of the UFO fringes. The contents of his new book are best represented by the volume's subtitle; it is quite clear that Achenbach gives no credence to alien abduction stories or similar looniness. Despite his openness to hearing and reporting nonscientific speculation, in the end he supports science as the best method of inquiry in the notoriously tricky search for possible life in other worlds. His hero is Carl Sagan, who stretched far in the hope of finding extraterrestrial life but who, in the long run, honored the constraints of the scientific method. This book is well written, and Achenbach's adroit use of nicely timed, appropriate humor further enhances its readability. Although not a scientist himself, Achenbach has absorbed and reliably reported the current "state of the art." Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄJack W. Weigel, formerly with Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-10-18:
In energetic, engaging prose, Washington Post staff reporter Achenbach (Why Things Are) introduces readers to an eclectic mix of scientists, millennialists, channelers, UFOlogists, debunkers and true believers who have been captivated, if not captured, by the notion of extraterrestrial life. The central figures are Carl Sagan ("a visionary, a poet of science, a quote machine for reporters on deadline") and Frank Drake, who promulgated a famous equation to predict N, the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations likely to exist in a galaxy like ours. In 1975, Drake estimated N to be 10,000; Sagan guessed a million. Urged on by Sagan and Drake, scientists have tried to eavesdrop on cosmic chat. Nearly 25 years later, the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence has continued to reveal nothing, in Achenbach's view, beyond static and the optimism of its advocates. In addition to respected scientists, Achenbach travels to a UFO convention, where he meets a man convinced that the aliens have the medical technology to cure his aching back and that President Clinton traveled by spaceship from Arkansas to New York (it took 15 minutes). ET is here, say many of those Achenbach interviewed, but we don't believe the evidence because of government deception and coverups. Achenbach's book can be appreciated for its assortment of characters and for its witty style. Whether N is one or one million, and whether intelligence is the result of deliberate creation or natural evolution, he concludes, we are privileged to be members of a species able to wonder about it. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, October 1999
Publishers Weekly, October 1999
Booklist, November 1999
Library Journal, November 1999
Washington Post, November 1999
New York Times Book Review, January 2000
Globe & Mail, May 2000
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