When the first printed edition of the Handbook for Space Pioneers appeared in bookstores in 1978, we knew that by the 24th century, people would not be reading this sort of information printed on paper. Imagine the horror on 24th century readers’ faces if you told them that in the 20th century, people conveyed information by cutting down trees, burning oil and coal to make paper, and shipping the paper books in heavy trucks fueled by diesel so that readers could drive their gas-guzzling cars to bookstores to buy them.
But in the late 20th century, paper books were what was available, and we had stories of life on future exoplanets to tell. We knew the electronic information revolution was coming. We were surprised that it arrived in less than 35 years.
Today the Earth branch of the Galactic Association of Intelligent Life is pleased to announce the availability of the original 1978 handbook in Amazon Kindle format. Copies may be purchased from Amazon.com and downloaded for reading on Amazon Kindle readers or a variety of other tablets and personal computers including Apple iPads, Android tablets, Windows PCs and Microsoft Surface tablets, Chromebooks, and Apple Macs.
Why republish the original handbook when the material is also available on the GAIL-Earth website? There are several reasons. First, many people loved the original handbook, and wrote glowing reviews and letters. Yet new copies of the handbook haven’t been available in printed form for more than three decades. There has been a market in used and remaindered copies, but these sources are drying up. So we’d like to enable new readers to buy the original handbook in a low-priced environmentally friendly form.
Second, the original handbook is a vision of the future set in the late 1970s, when the first “Star Wars” movies played on the big screen. It’s amazing how our view of the future has diverged in just that brief time. The GAILE website will continue to be updated to reflect an evolving view of the future as our knowledge of exoplanets and space travel increases. Think of it like Handbook for Space Pioneers 2.0. The handbook is a benchmark in time from which we can measure change.
Lastly, many people prefer reading books to jumping into various pages of a website. Kindle books have that page-turning feel even though they lack physical pages. For more information, visit this page.
We hope the expanded availability of the original handbook will encourage readers to contribute to the growth of the GAIL Earth website. This is your chance to imagine what life on exoplanets could, might, or should be like.