An antidote to sci-fi,
This review is from: The Reason Why: The Miracle of Life on Earth (Paperback)
This book is a breath of fresh air and an antidote to a postulation often cited - even by eminent cosmologists - that goes along the lines of: "...given the numbers of galaxies in the universe, and the number of stars in each, it seems reasonable to presume that there must be intelligent life on other planets..." There is no rigour to such a statement, however convenient it may be to writers of sci-fi.
Gribbin's book is a brave and worthwhile attempt to show how phenomenally special our world is, and how precious a place we find ourselves the temporary guardians of. The ideas are up to date and woven into an elegant argument that appeals to general interest in a way that more technical offerings (such as Conway Morris - Life's Solution) never manage. It is relevant to all of mankind. Everyone should have to read it!
The only slight disappointment is the final couple of pages where, in explaining the possibilities of future cataclysmic cosmic events, a weary sense of pessimism about the inevitable future of our civilisation seems to creep in... Perhaps had John Gribbin read some Raymond Kurzweil before writing this he would have looked forward with barely contained enthusiasm at the potential future of a post-biological reliant civilisation, perpetuating sentience in vessels of exotic materials, carrying the codes for it's biology to seed an ever expanding web of self-awareness across the stars...