As soon as we travel beyond the protective confines of our ecosystem we can expect no air to breathe, no atmospheric pressure to stop our blood boiling, and a fatal dose of solar radiation.
In part, the journey is told in second person, to make it feel as if you’re the one travelling through space. It kind of has the effect of making it feel like a kid’s book in a way, although the science will go over most youngster’s heads. Some of the physics passed me by to be honest, especially the parts about gravitational effects of planets. The chemistry and geology side was more at my level of understanding.
I learned what will happen when the sun reaches the end of its life and which planets, or moons, hold the most hope for future settlements should the worst happen. I found reading about the weather on other planets fascinating, and the reasons why they are so different from Earth. The book is divided up by location, starting with how to plan your journey and get into space and then visiting each planet one by one, describing its environment and behaviours in detail, plus small snippets of relevant historical information.
Contrary to what many sci-fi films depict, we do not yet have a magic device that when turned on causes gravity to suddenly appear.
The sections dealing with space travel and life on board a space ship were very down-to-earth. This may burst the bubble of anyone hoping for Star Trek style ships in the future, but it also highlights how much we have achieved in such an alien environment. It is a miracle we have made it into space at all. There’s even a tiny bit about sex in space!
I would definitely recommend this book to go on your research list if you’re writing space based fiction or creating other worlds that you want to appear feasible or hostile. There’s a tendency to create duplicates of earth, when the likelihood of other planets being like ours is so slim. This book really brought that home. Let’s hope we’re not hit by a giant asteroid any time soon…
A Space Traveller's Guide to the Solar System is published by Bantam Press and is available now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.