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10 June 2016
With the front pages currently obsessed with whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union and the back pages obsessed with how long England, Wales and Northern Ireland can remain in the European Championships, Gateway calls for some perspective. And you don’t get better perspective than viewing things from the Moon! With that in mind, we thought we’d send you into the weekend with another of our mini-reviews; this one features Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel of political tensions between the Earth and the Moon . . .
Arthur C. Clarke was the master of the near-future exploration of the Solar System novel. Earthlight has two of the most interesting ideas in this territory – how do you rescue a lot of people from a spacecraft when they have no spacesuits and no airlock, and how do you get around the inverse-square law with a beam weapon. Earthlight is set on a 2001-like moon, two hundred years hence when humans have spread throughout the inner solar system and the colonies have started to resent the economic control exerted over them by the Earth, while the Earth resents the drain on resources they represent. War looms inevitable. The technology is a curious mix of 1940s naivety about atomic power and weapons, 1950s electronics and IT, 1960s monorails, current oil-well drilling techniques and futuristic space drives. Read, think, and then find and read A Fall of Moondust.
Arthur C Clarke is famous for his 1945 Wireless World paper, ‘Extra-Terrestrial Relays’, proposing the use of geostationary satellites for global communications. The idea was unpatentable because of its impossibility. 20 years later Intelsat 1 was launched.