I want my book reviews to be useful to you, the reader, who may not have read the book in question and are trying decide whether to spend your money and time to do so. So, my purpose will not be to show you how cleverly I grok
the text, but rather to lay out for you what your are likely to find interesting or helpful in the book and how much of your time will be invested.
For non-fiction books, you don't need to read every chapter, so I will break down the content of the book and try to help you decide if these are topics you are interested in. Of course, I will only review a book I have read in its entirety.
I will also include interesting nuggets or quotes that struck me as particularly interesting.
The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies
is a physicist and author
who has been associated with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) much of his career. He wrote this book inspired by a 2008 workshop he hosted to look for innovative ways to improve this search.
Who Should Read it?
Anyone interested in a scientific approach to the problems of searching for alien life in the cosmos. Only a general layperson's background in the sciences is required, although the background explanations in the book maybe too sketchy for some readers. If you want a more in-depth introduction to the science, I
suggest reading David Grinspoon's "Lonely Planets
", which takes the reader gently through basic science topics needed to understand the questions of alien intelligence.
Science Fiction writers should find a bounty of story premises here, as well.
Modest. The book is not difficult and is reasonably well organized and written. Only 242 pages, which includes bibliography, end notes and index, and is divided into 10 chapters and an appendix.
Is it Worth Reading?
For me, the most interesting Chapters were 3, which discusses the fascinating concept of a shadow biosphere, and Chapters 5-8, which discuss recent thinking about how SETI can be improved and expanded, and the kinds of highly exotic phenomena we might encounter from highly advanced extraterrestrial civilizations if we search well enough and long enough. These chapters are rich in recent, provocative ideas.
Readers unfamiliar with SETI and astrobiology will find the entire book informative, although there are a number of other books and articles on the topic that would serve equally well or better.
Davies knew famed UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, and even visited him at this home.
Davies is a member of the committee formulating what Earth's response "should" be (if any), should an alien signal be detected.
A Few Quotes
"Clearly, there could be a large number of alien probes in the solar system, and we would be completely unaware of them unless they signaled us."