A brave but labored effort, too crude and piecemeal to do more than hint at this new tech’s potential.

VIRTUAL REALITY

An introduction to VR, with a cardboard viewer and five downloadable environments to sample.

Copious safety precautions and instructions—first for downloading the requisite smartphone app, then for assembling and using the viewer (incorporating said smartphone)—lead off this title. Following this, basic explanations of how virtual worlds are designed and rendered are interspersed with pages constructed around scannable links to 3-D views of dinosaurs, gladiators, volcanoes, pond life, and the International Space Station. In between these pages is further information on the technology behind VR and its uses. Users navigate the virtual worlds by physically turning their heads (or their whole bodies) and “pointing” their viewers at dots strewn about the vistas. Pausing at these marked points in each environment opens up alternate views or triggers a few lines of streaming informational snippets, read by an impersonal narrator; these reinforce without duplicating text on the equivalent printed pages but sometimes go off on tangents—with multiple mentions of toilets and waste on the ISS, for instance, and T. Rex coprolites (or, as the narrator mispronounces it, “corprolites”). The virtual worlds are modeled with decent realism but are so grainy that exploring them for more than a few minutes at a time (the precautions recommend 15, but even that may be pushing it) courts eyestrain. With but rare exceptions the human children and researchers in the photos are white.

A brave but labored effort, too crude and piecemeal to do more than hint at this new tech’s potential. (stickers, index) (Informational novelty. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4654-6548-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no...

THE INCREDIBLE PLATE TECTONICS COMIC

From the Adventures of Geo series , Vol. 1

Superhero Geo introduces readers to plate tectonics.

Reviewing information on his way to school for a big geology test, young George transforms himself into “Geo,” a uniformed superhero with a rocket-propelled skateboard and a robotic canine sidekick. In his imaginary adventure, he leaps over sidewalk “faults,” swerves away from “tsunamis” splashed up by a passing truck and saves an elderly lady from falling into an open manhole “volcano.” Meanwhile, supported by visual aids provided by inserted graphics and maps, Geo goes over the convergent, divergent and transform movements of tectonic plates, subduction, magnetic “stripes” paralleling oceanic ridges and a host of other need-to-know facts and terms. All of this is illustrated in big, brightly colored sequential panels of cartoon art hung about with heavy blocks of explication. After the exam comes back with, natch, a perfect score (“I guess all that studying paid off”), Lee, a geophysicist, abandons the story for a final 10 pages of recap and further detail on plate tectonics’ causes, effects and measurement—closing with a description of what geologists do.

African-American Geo cuts a suitably chiseled figure in the pictures, but he doesn’t get enough to do and so is really no more than a mouthpiece—perhaps there will be more of a plot in his next adventure. (online projects, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59327-549-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: No Starch Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A well-organized overview boosted by some unusual feats and sidelights.

50 SPACE MISSIONS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

From the Beginner's Guide to Space series

A quick highlight reel of ventures into the high frontier, from the V-2’s first flight in 1942 on.

Read defines mission broadly, so that his tally includes both single achievements, like Sputnik and Apollo 11, and clusters—three Mars rovers for mission No. 22, for instance, and for No. 48, an entire “climate change fleet” of orbiting geophysical satellites. The general drift is chronological, but after introductory looks at how rockets and gravity work, entries are grouped in topical chapters. These begin with “manned” spaceflight up to Valentina Tereshkova’s 1963 orbit, move through looks at ongoing projects such as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy booster, and conclude with glimpses of near-future missions to the moon and Mars. Not every flight here “changed the world” in any substantial way, but along with the usual suspects there are some that may be new even to well-read students of space exploration…such as the U.S.’s first spy satellite, Corona, launched in 1960, and 1982’s international Cospas-Sarsat satellite-based search-and-rescue system. Also, the (then) Soviet Union’s little-known moon rover Lunokhod 1 (1970) gets a nod, as does Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, who actually preceded U.S. astronaut Guion Bluford to become the first person of African descent into space. Small photos and graphic images shoehorned in around the narrative blocks give some pages an overcrowded look, and human figures, though rare, are nearly all White and male.

A well-organized overview boosted by some unusual feats and sidelights. (glossary, websites) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4595-0626-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Formac

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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