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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview on the Philosophical and Historical Aspects of the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Much to his credit, Mark Brake has written the most succinct account I have encountered yet on the philosophical and historical aspects pertaining to the search for extraterrestrial life in "Alien Life Imagined: Communicating the Science and Culture of Astrobiology". He offers readers a rather lively account that stretches from the thinking of early Classical Greek...
Published 17 months ago by John Kwok

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3.0 out of 5 stars They're out there somewhere
As a history of how humans have thought about aliens this is a good read. For those who wonder what aliens might actually BE like, it's a little disappointing. Those who find science fiction badly written tripe will hate it.

Will aliens be built on the same framework of 20 amino acids as all life on earth, or will they use the 180 available others as well or...
Published 3 months ago by James-philip Harries


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3.0 out of 5 stars They're out there somewhere, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: Alien Life Imagined: Communicating the Science and Culture of Astrobiology (Hardcover)
As a history of how humans have thought about aliens this is a good read. For those who wonder what aliens might actually BE like, it's a little disappointing. Those who find science fiction badly written tripe will hate it.

Will aliens be built on the same framework of 20 amino acids as all life on earth, or will they use the 180 available others as well or instead? Is DNA a universal copying mechanism? Is it even the best? Such questions are not far from being answered (in the lab, not from spaceships) and I had hoped for some guidance on this but didn't get it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview on the Philosophical and Historical Aspects of the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, 28 Mar 2013
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John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alien Life Imagined: Communicating the Science and Culture of Astrobiology (Hardcover)
Much to his credit, Mark Brake has written the most succinct account I have encountered yet on the philosophical and historical aspects pertaining to the search for extraterrestrial life in "Alien Life Imagined: Communicating the Science and Culture of Astrobiology". He offers readers a rather lively account that stretches from the thinking of early Classical Greek philosophers like Epicurus who believed in the existence of many worlds similar to Earth's to the heretical thinking of Giordano Bruno and others in the late 16th through 18th centuries. What is especially noteworthy is Brake's discussion of Darwinian thought - as derived from the Darwin - Wallace Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection - in influencing H. G. Wells's science fiction, most notably in his "The War of the Worlds", which Brake observes is especially memorable for being the first science fiction novel to deal with a "menace from space", the prospect of Earth being invaded by a seemingly invincible alien foe as diabolically enigmatic as Wells's Martians in "The War of the Worlds". Brake devotes a substantial portion of a chapter (Chapter Six), "Einstein's sky: life in the new universe", to Alfred Russel Wallace's "rare earth" hypothesis, noting how Wallace, for primarily philosophical and religious reasons, dismissed the existence of intelligence life elsewhere in the cosmos, when referring to mankind's "privileged position" in nature. (To my surprise, Brake has ignored recent efforts - by invertebrate paleobiologist Peter Ward and others - to revive this very hypothesis.) Devoted fans of fantasy and science fiction may be disappointed that Brake devotes ample time to the likes of Olaf Stapledon and Stanislaw Lem, but he does discuss in considerable detail, Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama" and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's "Roadside Picnic", which he views as important contemporary science fictional representations of humanity's response to the discovery of alien intelligent life. Just for its ample discussion of the philosophical and historical roots for the search of extraterrestrial intelligent life, Mark Brake's "Alien Life Imagined" deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone who has more than a passing interest in this subject.
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