A rather lifeless search for life in the great beyond.
In a story inspired by the discovery of pulsars by Jocelyn Burnell, who was doing grunge work at an observatory for Cambridge University in 1967 when she identified the first one, Bova presents 15-year-old Tom Daniels, spending the summer with his father and searching the heavens for the next “pale blue dot”—an Earthmate. Tom is also doing grunge work, and so for his birthday, he decides to steal a late-night visit to the control center to see what he might see. The language of the text can be a bit too striving—when Tom lights up the big telescope, he sees “Stars and more stars, big groady clouds of glowing gas hanging out there in deep space. Better than cool. Radical”—and the accompanying electronic music may pall. The only active interaction with the story is via an invitation to join a Twitter discussion. There is, however, one very tender and meaningful story element: Tom’s father asks if he would like to author a paper with him about a planet that Tom has seen during his nighttime raid on the control center. He also explains to Tom the truth that science rarely proceeds by great discoveries but by the gradual accrual of knowledge, like a cathedral being built a brick at a time.
A bit of science in a very minor key. (Science fiction/iPad app. 8-12)