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A Step Farther Out (1980)

de Jerry Pournelle

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1973103,333 (3.92)5

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(Original Review, 1980-08-12)

Pournelle's 2000 view.

Here is a collection of JEP's essays titled "A Step Farther Out" which I would recommend to anyone who has any expectation (hope?) of being around 20 years from now [2018 EDIT: I’m reading this almost 40 years later; time-capsule at work here…]. I rarely feel any urge to spend cash for the stuff I read (I visit at least 2 libraries a week), but on occasion I'm sorely tempted; in this case not to review it for myself, but to push in front of other people. Basically the book looks at hard-science possibilities for the near future, especially with respect to escaping the gloomy predictions of reports such as the "Global 2000". I'd rather let JEP elaborate on the details if he chooses.

The only problem is that the technological optimism is frequently swamped by political pessimism. It's easy to snipe at legislative or public short-sightedness, but harder to figure out the appropriate methods for changing the situation. After my first reading I had the distinct feeling that a sequel was in order, to chronicle whatever efforts have been made and to chart clearer channels for active lobbying.

On a somewhat related topic, there was a recent news item to the effect that some military intelligence folks are convinced the Soviets have developed such a lead in laser/particle-beam weapons research and construction that they will have a first-strike capability (i.e. immunity to incoming warheads) by perhaps 1985, certainly 1991. If you suspect the worst, all ruminations about 2000 will probably remain academic [2018 EDIT: by 2000 they were still academic for sure].

[2018 EDIT: This review was written at the time as I was running my own personal BBS server. Much of the language of this and other reviews written in 1980 reflect a very particular kind of language: what I call now in retrospect a “BBS language”.] ( )
  antao | Nov 16, 2018 |
A Step Farther out is a collection of Science Essays published by Jerry Pournelle throughout the 1970s, and collected here together, with updates, and additional comments.

I enjoyed this collection a great deal. Pournelle has a gift for easy communication of difficult information to those with little understanding of science (like myself).

I did read the book over a 3 week period, it probably would have been a bit much for a single sitting.

It was published in 1979, so no doubt some scientific knowledge has changed in the last 31 years, but that did not reduce my enjoyment of the book.

I went into this off the back of Pournelles 'Endless Frontier' and 'Endless Frontier II' which mix Science articles, with SF and even poetry. That format worked even better because it broke up the pure science, with stories using the effects. Great! ( )
  cosmicdolphin | Mar 22, 2010 |
This is an excellent book and holds up well, even though the individual essays are currently between 30 & 34 years old. If most of the stuff he talks about could have been done at the time, why haven't we done it?
Why did Carter cut research funding for fusion? ( )
  Lirleni | Dec 28, 2008 |
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