Title: Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Release Date: February 27, 2012
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Company
Genre: Science/Space, Non-Fiction, Essays
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this collection of essays, articles, interviews, and more, celebrated astrophysicist and Director for the Rose Center for Space and Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed the past, present, and future of space travel and exploration.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is that rare breed of scientist who is not only absolutely brilliant, but he is also remarkably socially adept. In many ways, he has become an ambassador for science, bringing it into the everyday lexicon. His passion and dedication are infections, and having had the opportunity to meet him in person, I can tell you he is actually that enthusiastic about spreading the word about science, not to mention absolutely hilarious and utterly charming.
It’s with pleasure and anticipation that I picked up Space Chronicles, which is, in many ways, Tyson’s love letter to the world of space exploration. He doesn’t mince words when it comes to his opinion on the matter – we should be getting out there, NOW. We are losing the edge when it comes to space travel, and our country is increasingly becoming scientifically illiterate. Science is everything, Tyson says. Without engineers, scientists, and mathematicians, we cannot be leaders, and will instead be forced to follow in the footsteps of countries such as China.
Tyson makes a convincing case for his beliefs, though this book is more than just an argument. Tyson discusses how space exploration can bring so much to our daily lives, as well as reflects on the nation’s space program. It’s clear that Tyson has a deep and abiding respect for NASA, but he isn’t afraid to criticize the organization. He also has words for the people who say NASA is too expensive. The author discusses all of these issues with his trademark wit and candor, making for an incredibly easy read, especially considering the short length of each piece in the book.
Space Chronicles is divided into three sections: “Why”, “How”, and “Why Not”, and it contains many appendices which illuminate issues with NASA he discusses over the course of the book. The book also takes advantage of the fact that Tyson is an avid and entertaining personality on Twitter, and intersperses his tweets throughout the articles. It makes for a very entertaining read.
If I had one criticism of Space Chronicles, it would be that it is repetitive. Because these are previously published articles, interviews, and columns edited for this collection, Tyson covers many of the same themes in them. That’s not to say it’s boring at all, because it isn’t – the book is always absorbing and there is never a dull moment. But Tyson’s views and issues quickly become clear in the book – after all, they’re the points he keeps bringing up over the course of his career.
If you’re a space or science lover, reading Space Chronicles is really a no-brainer. However, what I appreciate so much about Tyson’s writing is that it is so accessible to the layperson. Even if you know nothing about our space program or are uninformed on issues about space exploration, you will find something to love in this book. Tyson writes so clearly and concisely, using pop culture and humor in order to communicate, which is what makes his books so wonderful to read.
Other works by Neil deGrasse Tyson: