A tour of the solar system and the cosmos beyond, with a celebrity guide standing by.
Saucier opens with two chapters of biography and later shoehorns in a third. Forcibly interspersed are capsule histories of astronomy and the universe, discussions of galaxy and star types, a progression past our astronomical neighbors from the sun to the Oort cloud, and a final omnium-gatherum look at exoplanets, asteroid impacts on Earth and like matters of current interest. Tyson’s role in all this is to be paraphrased, often inanely: “Neil reassures us that dark matter does not interfere with Earth or humans as we move around on our planet’s surface”; “Neil hopes Earth does not end up like Venus….” Not only is the narrative further hampered by clumsy prose, but the author leaves indigo out of the visible spectrum, makes conflicting claims about whether or not Ceres is the only round asteroid, and confusingly asserts that Saturn’s “surface” (which it doesn’t have, at least not a solid one) is less colorful than Jupiter’s due to “a thick layer of clouds” (as if Jupiter lacks the same). Though sometimes misplaced, the many photos, both of space taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and of Tyson at various ages, are a plus but can’t compensate for the book’s many liabilities.
Better ventures into the high frontier abound—and so do better profiles of our leading living science popularizer. (notes, glossary, bibliography, no index) (Nonfiction. 11-13)