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Worlds without End: The Exploration of Planets Known and Unknown
John S. Lewis
Helix/Perseus, 240 pages

Worlds without End: The Exploration of Planets Known and Unknown
John S. Lewis
Professor John S. Lewis has research interests in applications of chemistry to planetary sciences and in space development. Recent publications include 2 science books: Rain of Iron and Ice (on comet and asteroid bombardment of Earth), and Mining the Sky (on space resources for use in space and on Earth).

John S. Lewis Website
Review: Worlds without End
Review: Worlds without End
Review: Mining the Sky

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Peter D. Tillman

Besides being a fine primer on modern planetary science, Worlds without End strikes me as an exceptional resource for science-fiction world builders and readers. I've read a couple of SF world-building books and they were pretty dry. This is the real thing -- a respected planetary scientist (Co-director of the Space Engineering Research Center at the University of Arizona) reporting on recent discoveries of extrasolar planets, and speculating on the range of possible planets that might host life.

Lewis does a nice run-through of possible planetary surface chemistries for "life as we don't know it," and (reluctantly) concludes that extraterrestrial life will most likely be carbon-based and use water as a solvent, because both have the best chemistry available, by far. Which isn't to say that we won't find some very odd critters out there...

And I don't mean to imply that general readers won't enjoy Worlds Without End -- I recommend it to anyone who's curious about how solar-systems form.

This is a better-written book than his Mining the Sky (1996), though Lewis still gets annoyingly cutesy at times. Anyway, it's always a pleasure to read a pop-sci book written by a working scientist. I'm looking forward to Lewis's next.

Copyright © 2000 by Peter D. Tillman

Pete Tillman has been reading SF for better than 40 years now. He reviews SF -- and other books -- for Usenet, "Under the Covers", Infinity-Plus, Dark Planet, and SF Site. He's a mineral exploration geologist based in Arizona. More of his reviews are posted at .

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