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Book Review:
Life in the Universe
a beginner's guide
By Lewis Dartnell

Copyright © 2007 Oneworld Publications, Oxford England
ISBN 987-1-85168-505-9, paperback, $14.95 US

book cover Life in the Universe is an easy-reading introduction to the field of astrobiology, the emerging interdisciplinary science concerned with the search for life beyond Earth. It starts from the very basics of what 'life' actually is before leading on to what might be special about our place in the cosmos and finishing with a discussion on what an alien visitor might actually look like. Dartnell wrote the book from the outset to serve as both an engaging account of recent advances in this exciting field for the non-specialist reader, as well as an entry-level primer for under- and post-graduate students on all the new courses in astrobiology now appearing around the world.

Astrobiology incorporates many disparate fields of research, and the author has treated them all as evenly as possible (whereas most previous books on the topic have had a distinct bias towards the 'home' discipline of the academic author). The book is well illustrated with carefully-chosen photographs and images, and for students there is also an extensive reading list and glossary. Lewis Dartnell is actively engaged in astrobiological research at University College London, and has received awards for both his academic research and his popular science writing. Life in the Universe has already been very warmly received by the academic community in astrobiology as well as the diverse audience for which it was written.

The author says, "I've been delighted to see it on the High Street bookshop shelves next to Darwin and Dawkins (a happy coincidence of my surname...) in both the UK and US." Life in the Universe should be on every SETIzen's bookshelf as well, filed next to Darwin and Dawkins.

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