ne small book for manAdrian Berry likes to think ahead. The Englishman's 15 books include such titles as The Next 500 Years and even The Next Ten Thousand Years. In his new book, The Giant Leap: Mankind Heads for the Stars, he takes readers on a journey of science-fictional scope into the sky above. Berry, who has also written several science fiction novels, took the title for his book from Neal Armstrong's famous line that his small step onto the surface of the moon was a giant leap for mankind. From the first moment Berry combines the flair of a novelist with the insights of a scientist. He begins with a compelling account of the Inquisition's trial and burning of Giordano Bruno in 1600. The Church had declared the philosopher a heretic for speculating that other stars had planets. As the first to make this assertion, Bruno became for many people the unofficial patron saint of astronomy and space travel. Berry's story leads the reader through surprising terrain. He discusses the role of the printing press in the dissolution of religion's iron grip on Europe, the growth in speeds attainable by vehicles and even attempts to police the Internet. None of these subjects is tangential to Berry's central theme. What he is writing about is the evolution of society and its inevitable move beyond our home planet.
Not that everyone is cheering for space travel nowadays. Incredibly, after visiting the moon a few times, the human race has apparently decided it would rather stay home and watch television.