All These Worlds Are Yours: A Book Review

In his book All These Worlds Are Yours: The Scientific Search for Alien Life, author Jon Willis gives you $4 billion. How many authors do that? Okay, it’s imaginary money, and you’re only allowed to spend it on astrobiological research. But still… $4 billion, just for reading a book!

If you’re new to the subject of astrobiology, All These Worlds is an excellent introduction. It covers all the astrobiological hotspots of the Solar System and beyond, and unlike most books on this subject, it doesn’t gloss over the issue of money.

There are so many exciting possibilities, so many opportunities to try to find alien life. But realistically, you can only afford one or maybe two missions on your $4 billion budget. So you’ll have to pick and choose. You’ll have to make some educated guesses about where to look.

Do you want to gamble everything on Mars, or would you rather spend your money on Titan or Europa? Or do you want to build a space telescope and go hunting for exoplanets? Or donate all your money to SETI? Willis lays out the pros and cons of all your best options.

My only complaint about this book is that Enceladus (a moon of Saturn) didn’t get its own chapter. Instead, there’s a chapter on Europa and Enceladus, which was really a chapter about Europa with a few pages on Enceladus at the end.

oc11-enceladus-is-angry

I agree, Enceladus. On the other hand, Enceladus is sort of like Europa’s mini-me. So while I disagree with the decision to lump the two together, I do understand it.

In summary, I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested in space exploration, and especially to those who are new or relatively knew to the subject of astrobiology. Minimal prior scientific knowledge is required, although some basic familiarity with the planets of the Solar System would help.

P.S.: How would you spend your $4 billion? I’d spend mine on a mission to Europa, paying special attention to the weird reddish-brown material found in Europa’s lineae and maculae.

3 Responses to All These Worlds Are Yours: A Book Review

  1. No idea on how I’d spend my $4 billion. Sounds like I need to read the book. Thanks for reviewing it!

    Would you recommend this as a better primer on astrobiology than the Very Short Introduction book? (I have the Very Short Intro book already, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, although I wouldn’t be at all averse to picking up this book.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Pailly says:

      I’d recommend All These Worlds over Very Short Introduction for two reasons:

      1. All These Worlds does a really good job weighing the pros and cons about specific extraterrestrial environments. It’s been a while since I read Very Short Introduction, but I remember it being far more optimistic about finding life just about everywhere in space.

      2. All These Worlds is much more up to date than Very Short Introduction, or at least the copy of Very Short Introduction I have. 2016 versus 2013. Not that All These Worlds is 100% up to date either, but it’s a lot closer to it.

      On the other hand, I seem to remember Very Short Introduction had more information about the history of astrobiology as a science, as well as more on how life may have started on Earth. So if you have the time and inclination, both books are worth reading.

      Liked by 1 person

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