Reading this book one alternates between feelings of incredulity and inspiration that one human being could accomplish so much in one lifetime and feelings of inadequacy on recognising that one's life up to now has been relatively empty compared to that of this remarkable man - and I would suggest that 99% of people on the planet would feel the same way as it is almost inconceivable that there could be many other beings existing so blessed with such many and varied talents as John Allen.
However the book for me does have a slight feeling of being a missed opportunity - there is relatively little personal, anecdotal material and quite a lot of expounding on more abstract theoretical subject matter, albeit presented in a way that is easy to understand for the layperson or non-scientist. Characters come and go without the reader being given a sense of who these people really were to Allen on a personal level, as much as he may praise their skills in aiding his various projects. In a way he seems to be entranced by his own brilliance, and I would not be in the least surprised if he had that effect on other people too; however it can leave the reader longing for a more personal take on his relationships with the other key characters in the book, such as Marie Harding, who co-designed his eventual mega-project, Biosphere 2. At no stage does one really get a sense of what she is like as a person - it could well be a conscious decision on the author's part to not include much more intimate detail in order to protect the privacy of those he is writing about, and his own, but it does give the reader a feeling of seeing the events at a distance, carefully wrapped in theory.
The book builds up, via various intriguing projects all over the world, to the eventual climax of the creation of Biosphere 2. There is a great deal about biospheric theory and discussion of the flora and fauna which were selected for this ultra-ambitious project, but once the two year experiment called Mission One begins, there is relatively little detail given, and that which is given, is of a relentlessly positive nature. I am aware that the whole Biosphere 2 project attracted a great deal of criticism, most of it apparently unjustified, by mainstream scientists who seemed to be threatened by the groundbreaking nature of the experiment, and possibly were jealous of Allen and co.'s almost superhuman achievements in getting the thing built in the first place. Allen intended Biosphere 2 as the new paradigm shifter, the 'Galileo's Telescope' of the 20th Century (and the centuries to come), and it may well eventually have something of that effect, however the criticism he received seems to have made him wary about putting into the book anything which could be considered 'negative' and so potentially amusing or grounding material about challenges faced during Mission One is kept to a bare minimum in place of justifications of why the experiment was so vital and so successful. It seems one will have to read other books to get a real sense of the Mission One experiment itself. The fallout which lead to Biosphere 2 being taken out of Allen's control and its (in his eyes) important mission compromised, is also rather glossed over.
All that said, this is a very enjoyable book, and it is a privilege to spend time in the company of a man so brilliant and so rounded in his ways of thinking. It is a rare person who can encompass the perspective of a poet, an actor, a scientist, an ex-soldier, an entrepreneur, an explorer of multiple territories both inner and outer, and be someone who apparently excels at all of these and more. 'Me And The Biospheres' is an inspiration to all and proof that a life can be fully lived if one has enough determination and the pioneer spirit which Allen both admires and exemplifies.