Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Shostak, senior astronomer for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, chronicles the ongoing search for extraterrestrial life in a venture that covers history, politics and funding, interviews with believers and non-believers (in both the religious and scientific sense), equipment and science, as well as typical sci-fi scenarios, all salted liberally with humor: "In most stories, space is just the Wild West without the dust. where the bad guys are just like us, except for their obvious need of remedial plastic surgery." Shostak also discusses the beginnings of life on earth, how this knowledge impacts what astronomers search for in other galaxies, and the growing consortium of scientific voices who believe "it would be offensively self-centered to imagine that what has happened on Earth has only happened on Earth." Written in clear, logical prose, with many analogies to everyday life that simplify the discussion (reverse-engineering technology "from a society several centuries in advance of us [is like] giving your laptop to Ben Franklin"). From crop circles to abductions, he discusses and debunks common alien encounter myths ("wheat fields are poor memory storage devices"), while remaining hopeful that continued exploration will yield discoveries. Covering topics from signal processing to feature films, should entertain a broad audience. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.