Sagan stands at the cusp where the technocratic and militaristic ambitions of the 50s meet the ecology movement. Keay Davidson treads a difficult middle course with gusto: Sagan wanted nothing less than to refashion astronomy and the life sciences in the image of his own imagination. Sagan believed that where life can in principle arise it always will, that many more worlds are habitable by some form of life than we imagine, and that evolution favours wild diversity. Not surprisingly it was Sagan's taste for science fiction that shaped his philosophy--a literature that accords with Sagan's own liberal education by building a speculative bridge between CP Snow's "two cultures": the sciences and the humanities.
Sagan was in many ways not a nice man. Nor was he by any means the best scientist. Davidson pulls no punches but this remains a generous and humane portrait. Davidson's journalist style is not top-flight, but he handles a vast amount of often first-hand research with skill and economy. In a market flooded with wordy and massive "first volumes" of never-to-be-finished lives Carl Sagan is a breath of fresh air from an unlikely source. --Simon Ings --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.