An imaginary trip to Mars prompts excursions into science and philosophy in this meditation on space travel.
It’s the year 2099 and the spaceship Cosmic Sea is off to the Mars colony of New Shangri-la, a journey that serves as a slender speculative peg for the author’s nonfiction musings. For the passengers, there are certain practical realities of space to confront—particularly the weightlessness, which provokes both euphoria and nausea and necessitates “thigh clamps and hand grips [to] help keep our butts firmly positioned on the NASA-designed toilet seat.” But filmmaker Klassi generally keeps readers focused on grander aspects of the universe. He treats us to sprightly, if cursory, discussions of scientific topics, including the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the properties of black holes, string theory, nature’s fascination with the golden spiral and the reason why the North Star always points north. From there he blasts off to distant spiritual nebulae. Noting that mankind’s divisions and conflicts appear very petty when viewed from outer space, Klassi suggests that human consciousness is converging toward Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point. And what about life after death? “Like a black hole,” he says, “could it be that death carries our souls on the wings of super-strings through a golden spiral to be recreated as a star in someone else’s sky?” Klassi distills his pensées into nine bite-sized “insights” that are pitched halfway between visionary mysticism and self-help exhortation. (His Fifth Insight urges readers to “[u]se the interconnectedness of all things to succeed in your daily life.”) Whatever one makes of such notions, there’s no denying the power of the book’s many gorgeous photographs, some authentic and some photoshopped, that include pictures of dazzling galactic clusters, radiant gas clouds, lonely astronauts floating in the void and our own brilliant blue marble, so lush next to Mars’ dry, ochre husk. Like any good travelogue, Klassi’s roadmap makes us look at the world with new eyes.
A slightly spacey but charming and visually stunning coffee-table guide to the cosmos.