Thursday, 28 February 2008

Universe: A Journey – Nicholas Cheetham ***

I’ve never really understood the concept of the coffee table book, except that some of them are big enough to construct coffee tables out of. Like it or not, that’s exactly what this is. The concept is great. It’s a photographic journey through the solar system, then out into the void encountering all those photogenic galaxies along the way.
So far, so good. But what’s it for? You certainly wouldn’t want to sit in bed and read it. (It’s too heavy apart from anything else.) So it is likely to head for that coffee table destination. In principle it would be a good book to have in the loo, something you glance at for a few seconds, then put down, but it’s too heavy and chunky for that.
Part of the problem is the sameness after a while. Of course some of the planetary and galactic photos are beautiful, but when you come down to moon after moon, each a dull looking, slightly different circle of rock, it’s more a ‘because it’s there’ thing, than for any inspiration. Even those glorious galaxies become rather dull after a while.
So there it is. Great concept, but what on Earth (or even in space) can you do with it?
Hardback:  
Review by Brian Clegg

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