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Eternity: Our Next Billion Years by Michael Hanlon

01/11/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Eternity: Our Next Billion Years in the USA - or Buy Eternity: Our Next Billion Years in the UK

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pub: Macmillan. 300 page indexed small hardback. Price: 15.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-230-21931-1.

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Based on the title, Michael Hanlon's book, 'Eternity: Our Next Billion Years' seems awfully ambitious look at where mankind will be let alone what the Earth will end up looking like over such a long period of time. Humans have only made really vast improvements in the past couple centuries and even Hanlon admits that short of surviving global warming, the sky is still the limit as to where and how quickly we will go. Most of his examination in the first two-thirds of the book focus on the next few centuries exploring different aspects and presenting various scenarios that will make you think and probably re-read at a later date. If you have any thoughts about writing Science Fiction then this book will open your eyes to various possibilities. I have to confess to noting some tangent ideas that might do just that myself out of this book.

Oddly enough, the one area that Hanlon does actually fall down is when he presents journeys through some of these scenarios to give a more visual impression. Without some sort of story foundation, these are just travelogues and are less compelling than the rest of the book.

That being said, the rest more than makes up for it. He not only looks at mankind but on ways we might be looked at by visiting aliens. His idea that they might well see cars as the dominant life-form makes a valid point and you need to be careful if they ever ask, 'Take me to your Ladda.'

Hanlon looks at many different ways future history is likely to turn out although unlike Asimov's psychohistory, doesn't predict what or how civilisation will alter to accommodate such changes. When you look at his bibliography of what influenced what he wrote here, there's a vast array of early Science Fiction material. Those of us of a similar age will find some kinship with his tastes and even you younger folk out there will know the titles.

I found this book an extremely stimulating read and if you want to speculate on the various turns humankind will have choices over and whether they are capable of keeping going then this will also make you think.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 1226 votes in the sci-fi charts

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