A Step Farther Out makes me mad. Pournelle describes a future I thought I would be living in by now. Originally published in 1984, this book is a collection of essays on the future. He speaks mostly of energy, but also life extension, technology, astronomy, and space travel. Many of the essays were written during the Carter Administration. By then the USA had already fallen off the fast track to our best future. Thanks to misguided government policies this country has not pursued the areas of opportunity, which Pournelle discussed. Only in computer science has there been a bloom, possibly due to a lack of government interference. In areas like education, it seems our country (and rest of the world) have gone backwards.
I like to read Jerry Pournelle’s website. I think he’s the smartest guy on the internet. The writing in this book is pretty good. This non-fiction book does suffer as the essays are thirty years old. And yet the problems he addresses are the same ones we’re looking at today. For the most part his recommendations are just as valid.
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Interesting Excerpts (Kindle #)
I usually like to summarize the year in science, but this year it is hard. The mood was one of optimism for the technological and scientific advances of the year , and profound gloom because of the prevailing attitude of government. (4231)
What it means is this: there aren’t any single answers to our energy problem. No magic solutions. No fads. No mysterious “them” who prevent us from solving all our problems with a few tricks.
What it takes is high technology and a lot of research” neither of which looks too healthy right now, given our tax laws. It takes capital accumulation, incentives, a chopping away of bureaucratic red tape. (4695)
We shall insulate our attics, but mostly we shall use the energy crisis as a means for redistributing income and increasing taxes and increasing the bureaucracy. (5064)
We could do it. We could spiral down until we have so few surplus resources that Roberto Vacca’s knockout becomes possible; to a point where we have very little, and many seethe with discontent, and suddenly it all explodes in riots, or war, or chaos; and when we recover from that (some of us) we will find that the business of living takes all our talents and energies; and our grandchildren will curse our memories. (5091)
…Before I die I can say, “My generation gave mankind the planets and the stars; and I was part of it.” (5147)