A City on Mars

Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?

Hardcover, 448 pages

Published Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN:
978-1-9848-8172-4
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4 stars (7 reviews)

Earth is not well. The promise of starting life anew somewhere far, far away - no climate change, no war, no Twitter - beckons, and settling the stars finally seems within our grasp. Or is it? Bestselling authors Kelly and Zach Weinersmith set out to write the essential guide to a glorious future of space settlements, but after years of original research, and interviews with leading space scientists, engineers and legal experts, they aren't so sure it's a good idea. Space tech and space business are progressing fast, but we lack the deep knowledge needed to have space-kids, build space-farms and create space nations in a way that doesn't spark conflict back home. In a world hurtling toward human expansion into space, A City on Mars investigates whether the dream of new worlds won't create a nightmare, both for settlers and the people they leave behind.

With deep expertise, a …

4 editions

A skeptical dive into space settlement

4 stars

If you've looked askance at Elon Musk's claim/plan to settle Mars this century, this book will validate your priors in a most entertaining way. The first 3 parts cover the physical & mental aspects of space settlement. As someone who works on satellites, none of this is surprising to me. At least a couple times a week, someone in the office will exclaim "space is hard!" as we try to solve a problem. Additionally, the book spends 2 parts of the legal and geopolitical environment of settling space. The authors' position is that space settlement nerds don't really spend enough time thinking through the ramifications. In particular, while there are better frameworks for space settlement than what we have, there's not a clean path to get there and space settlement nerds aren't really moving society in a real way to get there. There's an extended discussion of an attempt to …

Excellent Overview of the Difficulties of Space Settlement

5 stars

This was fun to read, but still very educational. There is a lot of hype around space settlement and the Weinersmiths thoroughly show all the little details that are very important, but do get glossed over in the discussion because people are overeager in dreaming of a space frontier.

My takeaway from the book: Let's conserve Earth first, take our time to develop a lot more understanding about space settlement and the advanced technology we might need, and then when we have sorted out everything here on this planet, then we might start thinking about colonizing this void out there that is trying to kill us. Makes sense to me.

A City on Mars

4 stars

A City on Mars is an enjoyable and easy to read non-fiction book about the (non)feasibility of space habitation. It's got a comedic-but-serious tone, which is not unexpected as half of the authors are responsible for the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic strip. Lots of digressions and breadth, but all enjoyable and accessible.

Despite space being really cool, I am personally went into this (and left!) with extreme skepticism about the feasibility of humans living in space any time soon. (It just feels like billionaire escapism from real problems that they are disproportionately responsible for causing!) There's probably some confirmation bias in my enjoyment here, as a warning. This book also treats several billionaires with much more respect than they deserve, although it's not fawning over them either.

We're pretty good at shooting things into space at this point (even if it's expensive) but largely past that I think I …

reviewed A City on Mars by Kelly Weinersmith

Ligero pero profundo, entretenido pero riguroso

4 stars

Recuerdo de pequeño tener libros de ciencia para niños profusamente ilustrados con visiones tremendamente optimistas de un futuro que nunca fue, lleno de hábitats espaciales y colonias en diferentes lugares del sistema solar. Esos libros aunque a mí me llegaron en los 80 seguramente estuviesen concebidos en los 70, una década en la que todavía llegaban misiones a la Luna y en la que vistos los avances exponenciales que se consiguieron en tan pocos años el cielo ya no era el límite. A nuestra generación se le prometió un programa espacial apasionante y al final, además del trauma colectivo al ver explotar el Challenger en el 86, nos tuvimos que conformar con ser testigos de logros como el amartizaje de Curiosity o el fly-by a Plutón que, aunque excepcionales, palidecen cuando los comparas con lo que me habían prometido aquellos viejos libros. En estos últimos tiempos de turbocapitalismo las grandes …

Subjects

  • Nonfiction
  • Science
  • Space
  • Technology
  • Politics
  • Sociology