Let's not forget, in the flush of enthusiasm for Manny's review of a book written by Hoyle, that it was written by two people, one of whom, though he may have started out an aspiring nobody paying due attention to Hoyle and receiving the possibly dubious benefits, he became along the way a scientist of some regard.
Chandra Wickramasinghe was sacked from his post at Cardiff University last year, (http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2011/03/19/chandra-wickramasinghe-dismissed-from-cardiff-university-in-wales/ ) only to find that he is increasingly becoming vindicated for the work he has done in this area.
Today a Guardian headline to warm the cockles of Bird Brian’s heart: Astrobiologist, Chandra Wickramasinghe suggests “NASA” has known for years life existed on Mars
The situation seems incredibly similar to the birth of what is now regarded as a science – cosmology – but was treated as an antiscience for a long time. Although there is now something called astrobiology, it is interesting to see that Hoyle and Wickramasinghe who as far as I can tell were the brave fighters for the idea in the first place have for now been expunged from the records, see wiki where there is not a word on either man in a detailed description of the field: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrobiology
Potentially, then, we are in one of those momentous historical periods which are only understood as such way later, when historians come in, clean up the mess and add an element of fairness to the whole business.
For the moment - however much of the details of this book turn out to be too elaborate - it is looking like the idea of it, which after all is the idea which has turned into astrobiology and which now cannot be denied as having validity as a field of research, makes it THE book, the one that will some time be the one historians talk of when they start ‘In the beginning there was…’
Amazing, is it not?
We NEED fighters, people who are determined to think in different ways, people who are not willing to toe the line and get their paychecks for doing what they are told. This is harder and harder for scientists to do, but here we see it happening, the dramatic climax, perhaps, to a struggle that when Manny and I and I guess lots of others reading this were mere babes.