If You Need Space, We Need You!
Space Frontier Foundation logo
Advancing NewSpace
Return to the Moon
Teachers in Space
NewSpace Economic Development
Space Settlement
The Cosmos Review
Permission to Dream
The Watch
Previous Projects
Events Homepage
Additional Events
Space Store
NewSpace News
Subscribe to Updates
Space Companies
Bulletin Boards
Web Links
You can listen to Foundation Advocate Dr. David Livingston's radio show
The Space Show
by clicking above.
Space Store
Unreal Estate – The Men Who Sold the Moon
Order Unreal Estate from Amazon.com and a portion of the sale goes to the Space Frontier Foundation. Support the Foundation with your purchase!
Shadows of Medusa
Click above to order Unreal Estate from Amazon.com.
Unreal Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon
By Virgiliu Pop
Reviewed by James E. Dunstan*

If nothing else, Virgiliu Pop's new book Unreal Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon, proves that P.T. Barnum's famous adage, "there's a sucker born every minute," is not confined to the surface of planet Earth. As Pop demonstrates, the gullibility of homo sapiens spans both space and time. The title of the book clearly harkens back to Robert Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon, and, indeed, Pop does a wonderful job of interweaving the cultural impacts of science fiction and space exploration in the 1950’s on the never ending lemming-like march to be the first one smart enough to lay claim to the Moon and beyond. The Politically Correct police, therefore, will have to find another "nit" to "pick" with this book for its gender exclusivity (indeed, women "star" just as prominently as men in this saga).

Pop's research is absolutely stunning, dredging up and debunking literally hundreds of claims of priority to space property ownership. Set up roughly chronologically, Pop nonetheless sometimes eschews a chronological motif when it suits him, making the reader's head hurt from the temporal whiplash. But that's fine, because the book constantly causes the reader's head to shake back and forth in disbelief of how many people over the past several hundred years honestly believe they've lodged legitimate claims to the Moon and other celestial bodies.

My main complaint with the book is that the legal rational and underpinnings of space property rights comes at the very end. A reader not steeped in the esoterics of Space Law may find the countless stories amusing, but the book would be so much more fun for the average reader if they knew going in how ludicrous these claims are, and could instantly point out the intellectual back-flips some of these celestial hacks have tried to foist on humanity (such as registering a "claim" in a local county assessor's office and then arguing that the fact that a county clerk accepted and filed the "claim" was a legal determination of the validity of the claim).

But best of all is Pop's treatment of the current king of space property hucksters, Dennis Hope and his Lunar Embassy, now claiming millions of lunar plots sold. The title of the chapter says it all: "Dennis-Come-Lately." Nice to know that Hope's gambit is not only legally specious, but he's been far from original in either his claims, or the subterfuge used to try and justify them.

Pop's book is a joy for anyone who has ever looked up at the Moon and thought, "I wonder if anyone could ever own that," and should be a required reading for anyone who has ever added a six-pack to the mix and thought, "maybe I should claim it for myself."

*Jim Dunstan is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Garvey Schubert Barer and the author of over a dozen articles on Space Law, including "Toward a Unified Theory of Space Property Rights" in Space: The Free-Market Frontier, E. Hudgins, Editor (CATO Institute 2002).
Return to Space Frontier Foundation Space Store.

The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

Who We Are
Action Reports
Annual Awards
Press Releases
Op-Eds & Letters
Presentations, Speeches & White Papers
In the News
Other Voices
Send Us Your Comments
Join the Fight!

The High Frontier is Gerard K. O'Neill's masterpiece. This new 3rd Edition Includes an introduction by Freeman Dyson.
Click above to order The High Frontier from Amazon.com.

The Frontier Enabling Test
Our definition of a "frontier enabling" technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space. In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define "return" to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?

For more information call 800-78-SPACE (800-787-7223)
send us your comments

Foundation Logo

Webmaster: Peter Thorpe pthorpe@space-frontier.org

Copyright © 1996 - 2008 Space Frontier Foundation. All rights reserved.
All work contained herein is protected by United States copyright/ intellectual property law.