Elwood and Wood, who have written official guides for TV's Cosmos series, go out of their way to relate the ""vast and fantastic universe"" to readers' interest and experience. In place of Sagan's enthusiastic delivery, we get exclamation points; and there are frequent subheadings to break up snatches of information which seem arranged to accommodate short attention spans. ""In the beginning,"" Elwood and Wood begin, ""the solar system was like a huge bumper car palace. Crashes were happening all the time. . . ."" Chapter two begins with half a million people watching"" a spectacular event--the launching of the space shuttle Columbia!"" Similarly, we learn that the earth was formed from particles ""rushing around in space like bees in a beehive""; Mars is introduced via the ""War of the Worlds"" broadcast; and the chapter on Jupiter, titled ""Starring Jupiter and a Cast of Moons,"" starts out, ""One of the most spectacular movies ever made was beamed to us from hundreds of thousands of miles away by the Voyagers. The movie was a double feature with a four-month intermission."" Not all the audience-appeals are so tacky; some analogies are simple and ingenious, as when the view of the expanding universe from earth is compared to the view from a raisin in a rising loaf of bread. The authors never get into any subject, however, because they don't credit readers with a serious or sustained interest. Instead, they touch on every space-related matter they can bring in--from qualifications for an astronaut to colonizing space. Ironically, though heavily photo-illustrated, the book's appearance will attract less casual interest than will the design and photos of Lauber's Journey to the Planets (p. 606, J-128) or Gallants' The Planets (p. 637, J-137), both of which generate more intrinsic interest through shared discovery or carefully developed explanations.