"Martin Rees encourages the reader to think beyond the new norms of diminished and collapsing expectations. The author is astronomer royal and former president of the Royal Society. He speculates from the vantage point of a well-placed nonspecialist -- aware of developments in pertinent fields and good at evoking a sense of cosmic scale and this little planet's place in it. He mentions conjecturing in a book published 15 years ago that "taking all risks into account, there was only a 50 percent chance that we would get through to 2100 without a disastrous setback," probably self-inflicted. He does not revise the figure here, though it sounds more encouraging now than it once did."