century until the end of the 19th, almost all educated people believed that the
stars are suns surrounded by inhabited planets--a belief that was expressed not
in science fiction, but in serious speculation, both scientific and religious,
as well as in poetry. Only during the first half of the 20th century was it
thought that life-bearing extrasolar planets are rare.
This is not a science book--rather, it belongs to the category known as History
of Ideas. First published by Atheneum in 1974, it tells the story of the rise,
fall, and eventual renewal of widespread conviction that we are not alone in
the universe. In this updated edition the chapters dealing with modern views
have been revised to reflect the progress science has made during the past 40
years, including the actual detection of planets orbiting other stars.
More poetry from past centuries, source notes, and an extensive bibliography have
been added to this edition. In addition it contains a new Afterword,
"Confronting the Universe in the Twenty-First Century," discussing
the relevance of past upheavals in human thought to an understanding of the
hiatus in space exploration that has followed the Apollo moon landings.