ASHLEE VANCE at Books Inc. Mountain View

Author images of Ashlee Vance and Leslie Berlin and cover photo of his book When the Heavens Went on Sale

Books Inc. Mountain View proudly welcomes friend and award winning author Ashlee Vance to the shop for a celebration of his new book When the Heaven's Went on Sale!

Ashlee will be joined in conversation by editor and historian Leslie Berlin! 

A momentous look at the private companies building a revolutionary new economy in space, from the New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk

In When the Heavens Went on Sale, Ashlee Vance illuminates our future and unveils the next big technology story of our time: welcome to the Wild West of aerospace engineering and its unprecedented impact on our lives.

With the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket in 2008, Silicon Valley began to realize that the universe itself was open for business. Now, Vance tells the remarkable, unfolding story of this frenzied intergalactic land grab by following four pioneering companies--Astra, Firefly, Planet Labs, and Rocket Lab--as they build new space systems and attempt to launch rockets and satellites into orbit by the thousands.

With the public fixated on the space tourism being driven by the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, these new, scrappy companies arrived with a different set of goals: to make rocket and satellite launches fast and cheap, thereby opening Earth's lower orbit for business. Vance has had a front-row seat and singular access to this peculiar and unprecedented moment in history, and he chronicles it all in full color: the top-secret launch locations, communes, gun-toting bodyguards, drugs, espionage investigations, and multimillionaires guzzling booze to dull the pain as their fortunes disappear.

Through immersive and intimate reporting, When the Heavens Went on Sale reveals the spectacular chaos of the new business of space, and what happens when the idealistic, ambitious minds of Silicon Valley turn their unbridled vision toward the limitless expanse of the stars. This is the tale of technology's most pressing and controversial revolution, as told through fascinating characters chasing unimaginable stakes in the race to space.


"The frenzied race by stargazing entrepreneurs to build a new economy in space is one of the most exciting tales of our time. Ashlee Vance, with his immersive reporting and exuberant writing, has captured the ambition and idealism of the colorful characters who are not only transforming our world but our heavens. It's the next tech frontier, and Vance turns it into a thriller." -- Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Steve Jobs and The Code Breaker

"A new testament for New Space, and an eloquent, expertly-reported ode to the swaggering geniuses who are opening the final frontier." -- Brad Stone, bestselling author of The Everything Store and Amazon Unbound

"Vance has delivered that rare book that educates and entertains while opening the reader up to a brand-new universe of wonderful characters and ideas. It's non-fiction that reads like a novel." -- Andy Weir, New York Times bestselling author of The Martian and Project Hail Mary

"Through incisive reporting and colorful prose, Ashlee Vance takes us on a thrilling ride to the outer limits of human achievement." -- Sheelah Kolhatkar, New Yorker staff writer and bestselling author of Black Edge

"[An] energetic account...[Vance] ably captures 'the spectacular madness of it all.' With enthusiasm and solid research, this book is an entertaining, informative look at cutting-edge technology." -- Kirkus

"[A] fantastic new book . . . I can highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in space, especially if you want to know how space startups work behind the public promises and marketing . . . [When the Heavens Went on Sale] provides real insight into these companies and the people who toil in them." -- Ars Technica

"[An] exciting account...[Vance] provides finely observed portraits of the figures behind the aerospace companies...The focus on figures outside the limelight offers a fresh look at the new space race, and Vance's feels-like-you're-there storytelling captures the 'spectacular madness' of the moonshots. It's The Right Stuff for the silicon age." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The spectacle of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and other technology scions shooting themselves into space may give you the idea that the whole experience is an ego trip, but Vance, the author of a best-selling biography of Musk, encourages readers to think bigger. He follows four companies -- Astra, Firefly, Planet Labs and Rocket Lab -- in this interplanetary land grab, all with the hope of making Earth's lower orbit the next site of technological innovation." -- New York Times ("19 Works of Nonfiction to Read This Spring")

"Well-researched and insightful. . . . An excellent addition to science or biography collections." -- Library Journal



Ashlee Vance is the New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk and a feature writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. He's also the host of Hello World, a travel show that centers on inventors and scientists all over the planet. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The New York TimesThe Economist, and The Register.

Leslie Berlin is a historian who has chronicled the rise of tech culture and the history of silicon Valley for more than two decades. She is the founding executive director of the Steve Jobs Archive and chair of the advisory group for the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford University.  She is the editor of Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in his own words and author of two books: The Man Behind the Microchip, a biography of Intel co-founder Robert Noyce; and Troublemakers: Silicon Valley's Coming of Age. She also wrote the Prototype column of the Sunday Business section of the New York Times. 

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Books Inc.
317 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
When the Heavens Went on Sale: The Misfits and Geniuses Racing to Put Space Within Reach By Ashlee Vance Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062998873
Availability: In Stock Now - Click Title to See Store Inventory. Please allow up to 48-hours for Curbside Pickup orders to be processed.
Published: Ecco - May 9th, 2023