Book Review: The Interstellar Age – Jim Bell

interstellar-ageTitle: The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission
Author: Jim Bell
ISBN: 9780525954323
Pages: 336
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Nonfiction, Space/Science/NASA, History
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

The Voyager missions have been some of the most successful in NASA’s history. They began in 1977, but are still going on to this day. Planetary Scientist Jim Bell takes the reader through the Voyager missions, from their beginnings to the present, to what might lie ahead.

Review:

If you don’t know much about NASA’s unmanned missions, but are interested in space-type things, you’re missing out. These missions have sent back invaluable data and images and helped us learn so much more about our solar system. But it’s the Voyager missions that are the real shining lights of our unmanned space program, and now they have an enthralling and informative book devoted to them, courtesy of Jim Bell.

Bell does a real balancing act in The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission. This book covers a huge span of time and there’s a lot to discuss: the technology, the science, the discoveries and why they’re important, and the people behind the mission. It’s telling, then, that the reader is always engaged in this narrative because Bell does such a great job with these elements. He illustrates the human side of Voyager, but also talks enough science to make the reader understand just what was so important about this mission.

The personalities behind Voyager were some of the most intriguing parts of The Interstellar Age; they take the narrative from something that could have been mildly interesting to those who don’t have a space fascination (let’s face it, I probably would have enjoyed this book even if it was just a list of dry facts) to something emotionally engaging. The reader becomes invested in the mission, in the success of the Voyager spacecrafts, and feels the turn in their stomachs when a camera isn’t working or funding is being cut. It’s a hard thing to do, to become emotionally invested in an object, a thing flying through space, yet Bell manages to capture the reader entirely.

As I said, I would have enjoyed this book even if it was a dry list of facts, but Jim Bell makes The Interstellar Age so much more than that. It’s a narrative about human achievement and greatness, at how we can accomplish so much more than we believe we are capable of. It’s beautiful and poignant, and I highly recommend this for nonfiction fans generally.

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Comments

  1. I recently read a children’s book about Carl Sagan and the Voyager mission with my son. My interest is peaked and now I need to read this. Nice review.

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