The book starts with a look at the origin of the universe, and the formation of stars, galaxies and planetary systems. Heidmann goes on to discuss the origin of life, on Earth, and where the building blocks of life might have come from. He describes the places where these building blocks might be found, including the interstellar medium, comets and meteorites as well as the surfaces of planetary satellites such as Titan. This is followed by a look at the idea that life may have arisen on Mars. The second part of the book examines the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, how we are looking for it, at what we might do if we found it.
The book was published over ten years ago in a fast moving field, so it necessarily is a bit dated. I felt that it might have benefitted from a more autobiographical style. Heidmann is often describing work he has done and people he has worked with, and such a style might make the book appeal to a wider readership. As it is it will appeal to those with an interest in exobiology, who want to get beyond the popular accounts but don't want to go as far as the textbooks on the subject which are now becoming availiable.