Infinity Beckoned: Adventuring Through the Inner Solar System, 1969-1989 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Infinity Beckoned illuminates a critical period of space history when humans dared an expansive leap into the inner solar system. Jay Gallentine conveys the trials and triumphs of the people on the ground who conceived and engineered the missions that put robotic spacecraft on the heavenly bodies nearest our own. Based on numerous interviews, Gallentine delivers a rich variety of stories involving the men and women, American and Russian, responsible for such groundbreaking endeavors as the Mars Viking missions of the 1970s and the Soviet Venera flights to Venus in the 1980s. From the dreamers responsible for the Venus landing who discovered that dropping down through heavy clouds of sulfuric acid and 900-degree heat was best accomplished by surfing to the five-man teams puppeteering the Soviet moon rovers from a top-secret, off-the-map town without a name, the people who come to life in this book persevered in often trying, thankless circumstances. Their legacy is our better understanding of our own planet and our place in the cosmos.
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|Listening Length||22 hours and 40 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||February 07 2017|
|Publisher||University Press Audiobooks|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #95,875 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#235 in Astronomy & Space Science (Audible Books & Originals)
#289 in Computer History & Culture (Audible Books & Originals)
#414 in Aeronautics & Astronautics (Books)
Top reviews from other countries
Almost all of the "Outward Odyssey" books are excellent. However this, and the previous book by Gallentine, "Ambassadors From Earth" make me wary of buying future editions without at least checking the author. The University Of Nebraska would do well to employ a new editor to impose much greater control over his manuscripts, in my opinion.
His statement raised some inner emotion in me I had to think about a few seconds...I felt hurt. Why?
If art reflects the soul, technology (even "rickedly pieced parts") represent the cleverness and imagination of the person/people involved in seeing it come to blinking light and clicking sounds life. There truly is a 'Soul of a New Machine" (thank you Tracy Kidder for this phrase), reflecting all that came before and, if lucky, something completely new. I've seen this and felt...well...love for "dumb machines".
A long preamble to this review, but very important to highlight how superbly written Jay Gallentine's "Infinity Beckoned" is from the human-machine collaberation that tried to put all of our five senses (plus a few more thrown in) on other worlds. Wonderfully interwoven tales of the American and Russian efforts to first figure out how and the to actually make these intricate thoughts and ideas into the Human Race's Avatars to our planetary neighbors. And, as you might expect, politics (both human and governmental), genius, hard work and some amount of luck were both rewarded and punished by an unforgiving set of definitively unearthly worlds. Stories of the Russian "burly and stocky" Lunokhod 'tank' roving around the moon, American scientist/engineers developing the Viking Mars lander agonizing over "Just how *does* one determine if there is life on Mars?" (and do we credit this question to David Bowie?) American and Russian struggles with the deceptively named planet Venus and figuring out how to keep a probe alive in this Hellish environment.
The author tells us these stories in a imminently readable narrative style that keeps the reader turning pages in anticipation of what will happen next. With Gallentine's great ear for dialogue and inner dialogue, I felt like I was looking over the shoulders of the people involved and felt both their triumphs and failures first hand. Plenty of technical detail thoroughly researched and rendered in a most interesting manner to help the reader see technology on its cutting edge to solve problems both known and simply (educationally) guessed at.
Ultimately, the story of these electro-mechanical planetary sojourners is inextricably linked to the people lovingly and laboriously coaxing them into life and watching over/caring for them until they all reach their ultimate fate. The quest for knowledge, the *science* involved is very much a connective tissue between the two 'Super Powers' of the US and Russia that crosses any imaginary lines drawn on a map or at odds political ideologies. This was a very strong sense I felt from this wonderful book, that ultimately, we are a small planet reaching out to understand a larger Universe and maybe get a sense where we fit in it.
Thank you for this wonderful book, I *very* much look forward to the next! Highly recommended. 5 stars.
A couple of tips: you need to concentrate and devote your full attention to the story lines when reading this book. Do not make the mistake I did of picking it up, reading a few pages and putting it down again. It becomes very hard to follow if you do that, not helped by the sometimes colloquial, conversation writing style. That writing style worked very well in "Ambassadors"; less so with "Infinity Beckoned" because of the added complexity of some of the subject matter. So you need to read this book in large slabs.
A major theme running through the book is the life science experiment program onboard Viking. This is obviously an extremely technical subject matter, and the results of the experiments were inconclusive and subject to interpretation by different program scientists who had experiments onboard. By including Viking in the book, Jay had no choice but to tackle the monumental task of simplifying this very complex subject. Although (by and large) this has been done well, I still found it hard to follow especially when split across a number of non-sequential chapters. So pay particular attention this when reading this part of the book; you may find yourself flipping back to earlier pages to recall details that become relevant in later chapters.
Another major story is the Lunakhod program. This is covered really really well, not only by describing the highly-secret Soviet system behind which the program operated, but also the trials and tribulations of the "sitting cosmonauts" who drove the Lunakhods remotely and on a time delay. This is one of the best aspects of the book, in my view. Also, the Venera program is detailed very well; less so the the Vega program in my opinion.
If you have read Ambassadors, then you really need to read Infinity as well. If you loved Ambassadors (like I did), then it may take you a little extra time before you warm up to Infinity, but you will be rewarded for your perseverance in the end. Full marks to Jay for covering material that nobody has ventured near before. Really well done.
"Ambassadors from Earth" was great. This book is incredible. You need them both.