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About the Author

Dr. Kelly Weinersmith is Adjunct Faculty in the BioSciences Department at Rice University, where she studies parasites that manipulate the behavior of their hosts. In addition to being a respected researcher, she cohosts Science...Sort Of, which is one of the top 20 natural science podcasts. Kelly mostrar mais spoke at Smithsonian Magazine's "The Future is Here 2015," and her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Science, and Nature. mostrar menos

Includes the name: Dr. Kelly Weinersmith

Obras por Kelly Weinersmith

Associated Works

The Other Animals (2019) — Contribuidor — 6 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Locais de residência
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Weinersmith, Zach (husband)



The Weinersmiths (authors of the interesting and entertaining Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything) initially set out to write a book about what we should expect from the exciting new era of space settlement to come in the not-too-distant future. What they ended up writing, after lots and lots of research, is a book about how very, very not ready we are to start living on Mars, or anywhere else that isn't Earth.

In particular, they focus on a lot of issues that advocates of space settlement tend to gloss over or ignore while they're busy thinking about rocket schedules and mineral abundances. Like, for instance, the fact that the longest anyone has ever been in space is about a year and a half and no one's ever lived in Moon gravity for more than a few days or Mars gravity at all. So we have zero data on what it would mean, physiologically, to spend a lifetime somewhere other than Earth, or whether we can reproduce there without problems. Indeed, there hasn't even been much in the way of good animal experiments on any of that yet. Then there are issues of psychology and government, because no matter what the most idealistic of space dreamers might want to believe, humans do inevitably take our own flawed humanity with us wherever we go. And what about legal barriers? Does current space law even permit this sort of thing? Do we need to have clearer and more useful international law on the subject first to prevent problems down the road? And is expanding into space going to usher in a new era of cosmic harmony, or is it likely to actually be a new source of conflict?

On top of which, the simple fact is that space is a terrible place. As is the moon, as is Mars. It is profoundly difficult to overestimate just how hard it will be to keep human beings alive there, never mind thriving, or how much of what we take absolutely for granted on Earth will have to be struggled for there. Antarctica is a garden spot by comparison.

None of which is probably anything space enthusiasts (of which I do count myself one, although never one who thought Elon Musk-style near-term Mars settlement was anything but a pipe dream) are likely to want to hear. But whether or not you're convinced by their arguments, they are very much worth listening to, and the authors are certainly right that not enough attention is paid to these topics.

I should say that, while this sounds like a massive downer, it is written in a pleasant, humorous style (even if it is sometimes a stretch to keep that up during long chapters about international law), and also that the authors don't think that cities on Mars don't sound awesome, or even that they're not a good long-term goal for humanity. Ultimately, their argument is for doing it when we're actually truly capable of doing it right... and that that is really not today.
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bragan | 6 outras críticas | Apr 14, 2024 |
The Weinersmiths did our homework for us. I came to this book as a fan of Zach's comic, a space science nerd, and a science fiction author.
As a fan of the comic, Zach's humor was evident in keeping the tone approachable for such a heavy topic (in 2 words: Space Kills, slightly more words: Space Kills, but People Will Kill You Too Without A Proper Legal Framework Holding Them To Account), I appreciated that.
As a space science nerd, the effect was as a refreshing bucket of cold water. I would love to buy into the hype around sooner than later space colonization, but the realities are as stated above. The glimmer of hope they offer about how it is all possible, just not yet, makes the book worth reading.
Finally, as a science fiction author who prefers to write about Things Happening In Space, this book is a wealth of potential source material of dangers to throw at my characters. I'll be certain to acknowledge them when I apply what they have presented.
If you are into space travel as a sci-fi fan this is a must read because it details everything humanity overcame to be between worlds or amongst the stars in the tales we love. If you are a devotee of real-world space travel (admittedly, the two tend to go hand in hand) then this book is a must read for the dose of reality. And also as a checklist - as the human species tackles each of the perils described, we are one step closer to our shared dream.
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Lefthandrob | 6 outras críticas | Mar 17, 2024 |
Though we’ve known since the early 20th century that Mars is essentially a lifeless wasteland, humans have been reluctant to relinquish the dream of one day living there. In A City On Mars, self-described space geeks, Kelly and Zach Weinersmith explore the feasibility of life among the stars.

As technology advances providing continued innovation in space travel the dream may seem closer than ever but it’s only a single practical challenge among many. Drawing from several years of original research including interviews with a myriad of experts, the Weinersmith’s explore topics with regards to the the ability of both the human body and mind to withstand life in space for long periods, and the obstacles to creating safe, self sustaining biomes at scale among hostile environments. It’s surprising to realise just how much we don’t know about living in space, and I found these sections to be the most engaging.

A large section of the book is also devoted to examining legal and ethical concerns regarding space settlement, and though I found myself skimming a fair bit of the detail that covered the former, the issues raised were interesting to consider. The analogy with company towns is a clever comparison, I look at the mess Musk’s ego has made of Twitter, and know I could never trust him to act in my (or society’s) best interests.

The Weinersmith’s interject some humour into their work, which enhances its readability and their enthusiasm for the topic comes across well. Zach’s illustrations are a lighthearted, if superfluous, addition. I do think readers will require at least a casual interest in the subject to stay engaged with the narrative. The length of the book works against it slightly, though I appreciate the authors’ thoroughness.

A City on Mars is a pretty pessimistic view of the viability of space colonisation, there are still many questions to be answered and I agree with the Weinersmith’s conclusion that just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Life in space is no guarantee of utopia, in fact we’d just be taking all the same problems with us, and likely creating many more.
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shelleyraec | 6 outras críticas | Feb 17, 2024 |
Not what I expected at all, quite a bit dryer than usual. Still with some jokes, but actually more of a serious book on this important topic (for our future). Did not expect the conclusions they reached, and I think they spent a bit too much time on health, psychology and law, but I do agree in part with how difficult colonizing space will be (compared to solving our problems on Earth).
Guide2 | 6 outras críticas | Jan 30, 2024 |



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