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January 01, 2007

IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, William Burrows recommends five books on space.

They're good recommendations, but here are a few of my own -- besides the obvious, I mean -- for your additional consideration.

1. Michael Collins' memoir, Carrying the Fire. Insightful and very well written. Collins has written a number of interesting books, but this is my favorite.

2. Walter MacDougall's ...the Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age. Scholarly, but fascinating for pretty much anyone with an interest in the subject.

3. Ben Bova and Byron Preiss, Are We Alone in the Cosmos? The Search for Alien Contact in the New Millenium. If you're interested in contact with extraterrestrial intelligences -- and really, who isn't? -- this is an excellent source.

4. Bob Zubrin's The Case for Mars. Zubrin's Mr. Mars, and this is the best single explication of his case, though his Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization is also excellent.

5. Space produces good pictures. Kevin Kelley's The Home Planet, a collection of pictures of Earth from space, is absolutely beautiful -- I've given copies as gifts many times. I also like Michael Light's Full Moon, full of beautifully reproduced photos from NASA's master negatives from the moon flights.

The book I'd like to see -- I considered writing it myself, but didn't ever get around to anything -- is a book tracing the ongoing private space race among private entrepreneurs ranging from XCOR to Armadillo to Scaled Composites and Blue Origins. A sort of space version of Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine. I'd certainly buy a book like that, and I suspect that a lot of people would.