In 10 double gatefolds, each done by a different illustrator, the story of space from the Big Bang to the prospect of a base on Mars.
The illustrators, none of whom are household names (yet), uniformly go for similarly bright but not saturated colors and simply drawn shapes—which is all to the good as it lends the presentation a pleasing visual unity that at least partially compensates for some arbitrary arrangement and fact choices. Jenner isn’t strong on accuracy either, wrongly characterizing the Milky Way as a spiral galaxy, for instance (it’s actually a barred spiral), and understating the speed of our local star’s solar wind by orders of magnitude. Still, along with the fun of opening each gatefold in succession, readers do get both a big picture of our astronomical origins and a general view of the progress and future of space exploration. Also, along with a side excursion into Milky Way origin myths from the Khoisan and four more specific cultures, the astronauts and other human figures throughout are racially and culturally diverse enough to make the point that interest in space is open to all, not just white Americans and Europeans.
Not a great showcase for the artists, but sufficient juice to carry off a launch. (Informational novelty. 7-9)