“Wolverton’s gripping Burning the Sky [is] the first book-length treatment of a remarkable series of nuclear tests in outer space, code-named Operation Argus. . . . Informative and balanced in its attention to diplomacy, science and biography.” - Nature
“Burning the Sky is scary as hell. An unflinching look at one of the darkest and most dangerous secrets of our past that has every reason to scare us right now. Read this book right now!” - Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Deep Silence
“With lucid, compelling prose, Mark Wolverton reveals the secret, risky nuclear tests employed by scientists working for the US military during the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s. A gripping account . . . Wolverton’s nail-biting chronicle of some of the most potentially dangerous atmospheric tests ever carried out is a must for enthusiasts of military and scientific history.” - Paul Halpern, physicist and author of The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality
“A gripping and nerdy tale of how a military’s fetish for power and technology can wind up threatening the public instead of securing the peace. A timely reminder of the dangers of unchecked adventurism as we enter an age of cyber and social warfare.” - R. Scott Kemp, Professor, Nuclear Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“In Burning the Sky, Mark Wolverton takes us back to the giddy―and terrifying―early days of the space age, when Cold War jitters drove ambitious scientists and anxious military planners to look skyward, dreaming about nukes in space. . . . Wolverton brings the story back down to Earth, capturing the technical uncertainties and moral ambiguities of the era. Fascinating.” - David Kaiser, Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"A sympathetic account of a brilliant but enigmatic giant of 20th-century science." ~ Kirkus
“A Life in Twilight is a sensitive, engaging, and wonderfully readable rendering of the sad final decade of an American patriot brutalized by the destructive politics of the McCarthy era. As such, it is a welcome and vitally important contribution to our understanding of this complex man as well as of some of the consequences to our society when we allow government officials to use fear as a political weapon.” ~ Martin J. Sherwin, coauthor of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, 2006 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
"Wolverton brings sensitivity, insight, and convincing research to this attempt at encompassing the last 13 years of J. Robert Oppenheimer's life." ~ Library Journal
“The story of Robert Oppenheimer’s last years as told by Mark Wolverton makes an intense, compelling book. We need reminding of the price this country paid for the hounding of a great man: not just for the paranoia and vindictiveness of scoundrels like J. Edgar Hoover and Lewis Strauss, Oppenheimer’s chief persecutors, but for the way others---from President Eisenhower down---allowed the disaster to happen.” ~ Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon’s Trumpet, Portrait of a Decade, and Make No Law
"Opens a revealing window onto the intellectual climate of the cold war." ~ Publishers Weekly
Read my recent interview
at the book website Up Close and Personal.
"Wolverton conveys the intense competition within NASA as scientists at Ames jockeyed with other space centers, first to run the Pioneer project, then to get the valuable allocation of radio antenna time to answer the crafts’ ever fainter signals...Space buffs will revel in this well-told tale of the little space probes that could.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“The Pioneers are heading for the stars, bearing a message from Earth. The message of this book -- the story of those legendary space probes -- is that human beings, working together, can achieve incredible things.” ~ Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon
“Wolverton gives us a highly accessible, well-crafted history of a stupendously underappreciated era in space science and exploration...Wolverton’s finely tuned tale of technical challenge and scientific success carries us to the farthest regions of the known solar system, into the very ‘depths of space’.” ~ David DeVorkin, Curator of the History of Astronomy and Space Sciences at the National Air and Space Museum
“From the ‘Great Galactic Ghoul’ to the plaque that carried human images to the stars, Wolverton engagingly tells the story of the first forays to the outer solar system and beyond.” ~ William K. Hartmann, author of A Traveler’s Guide to Mars and Cities of Gold
“NASA’s Pioneer 10 and 11 probes were the first spacecraft to boldly go farther, faster, and longer than any manmade object had ever gone before. This intriguing tale of their navigating the uncharted asteroid belt, barnstorming the treacherous outer planets, and hurtling onto the far-flung stars is the space-age version of Homer’s Odyssey. Except here the story is real.” ~ Ray Villard, News Director, Space Telescope Science Institute
“The Depths of Space does an excellent job describing the history of the Pioneer program in a manner than is detailed yet accessible to the casual reader.” ~ Sky & Telescope
“Wolverton documents how time and time again these missions achieved far more information for far less money than anyone could have imagined and in the process launched an era of space exploration.” ~ Science News
Listen to a few radio interviews I did for The Depths of Space available online...
“Wolverton does an astounding job with this book...his research is thorough, his ideas sound and his asides quite humorous.”
~ The SF Site
Even now, years after its release, I probably receive more mail and comments regarding this book than any of the others. I guess that's what happens when you're entrusted to contribute to the mythology of a revered cultural icon. Perhaps the most frequent question I get is "Where the hell can I find a copy of this #$!&$! book, anyway?" The answer is, alas, wherever you happen to find it. Due to the untimely demise of Byron Preiss and the subsequent bankruptcy of his iBooks company, The Science of Superman remains out of print until all the legalities and rights issues of iBooks are someday resolved. I've linked to the online listings for the hardcover (left) and the paperback (right), which may lead you to used copies.
In the meantime, you might be interested in The Science of Superman TV special, originally broadcast on the National Geographic Channel shortly before the release of the Superman Returns film of 2006. I'm one of the talking heads featured in the show, discussing the possible scientific basis of Superman's powers. You can find it here on YouTube.