The Geomancer


Islands in Space: An Appreciation of Dandridge M. Cole

George Zebrowski alterted me to this article by Alex Michael Bonnici, "Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, the Pioneering Work of Dandridge M. Cole," an appreciate of the American aerospace engineer and futurist, posted on The Discovery Enterprise. As the article attests, Cole's contribution to space exploration has been tremendous. His book, Islands in Space: The Challenge of the Planetoids, co-authored with Donald Cox, laid the foundation for our eventual exploration of the asteroid belts. He was one of the first scientists to draw the broad outlines of what a mission to the asteroids might entail, and, in Exploring the Secrets of Space: Astronautics for the Layman with I. M. Levitt, Cole first proposed the notion of hollowing out an asteroid, spinning it to provide a simulation of gravity, and populating it as a permanent space colony. This idea - which predates that of Gerard K. O'Neill by over a decade - had been incredibly influential on both the real world of space exploration and on science fiction itself. Can anyone say Babylon 5 ? Cole is also paid direct tribute in George Zebrowski's classic, Macrolife: A Mobile Utopia, which was chosen by Library Journal as one of the hundred Best SF Novels of all time, and which was directly inspired by Cole's concept of a mobile, space-faring humanity. As Cole wrote:

"Taking man as representative of multicelled life, we can say that man is the mean proportional between Macro-Life and the cell. Macro-Life is a new life form of gigantic size which has for its cells individual human beings, plants, animals, and machines . . . Society can be said to pregnant with a mutant creature which will be at the same time an extraterrestrial colony of human beings and a new large-scale life form."


  1. James Davis Nicoll12:37 PM

    I realize this is the exact opposite of timely but you might find this chapter of JD BErnal's The World, the Flesh and the Devil of some interest:

  2. I was wondering just yesterday if anyone came to ancient posts...

  3. I am rereading Space Colonies - A CoEvolution Book by Stewart Brand (1977) and commenting on it on my LJ. It references Dandridge Cole at one point and while looking for links to help explain who he was I discovered you'd mentioned him here.

    It also mentions Bernal, thus the link....

  4. Interesting. What prompted the reread?

  5. I stumbled across this:

    which was like concentrated nostalgia.

    I still shop at the health food store where I bought CEQ. They've moved twice, changed their name and changed hands a number of times since I bought that particular item from them...

  6. Concentrated nostalgia. I like that.