CLOSE UP by Ben Bova

CLOSE UP

New Worlds
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KIRKUS REVIEW

It seems like a good idea--let scientists who are also science fiction writers tell the way the solar system really is, but it doesn't quite come off. The scientists--Bova, G. Harry Stine, Joe Haldeman, Hal Clement, and others--wear their academic hats too closely. Instead of juicy quotes from Heinlein or even H. G. Wells or Edgar Rice Burroughs, the authors stick to the facts as revealed by space probes, flybys, or landings. They do allude to past speculations, and in the case of Mars, Jerry Pournelle persuasively argues that the science fiction tradition strongly shaped space agency policy and budget. But, oh, it would have been nice to have some longish quotes and delicious fancies to spice the what-we-now-know catechisms. The later chapters on Jupiter, the outer planets, and the origin of the solar system are the most speculative (Jupiter's where to look for life; Pluto may have been a Neptune satellite) and make more compelling reading. The level is somewhat beyond introductory, with a glossary to help those who have forgotten what an astronomical unit is. As a summary of those things the last 10 or 15 years of technology have taught--and not taught--us, the book will do. As imaginative clutch-the-reader-by-the-lapels stimulation it falls short.
Pub Date: March 8th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1977




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