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Destiny or Chance: Our Solar System and its Place in the Cosmos Paperback – 25 Oct 2000


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It has taken us a long time to discover where we are. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating narrative of Solar System creation 2 July 2003
By Wayne Gralian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having just finished the book, and enjoying it immensely, I was curious what the general consensus was on this work. I was a bit surprised at the negativity aimed at the book.

The negative reviews appear to come from students dismayed with the writing style. They should have read the Introduction. For more scholarly purposes, Taylor refers the reader to his more properly cited and thorough work, Solar System Evolution (1992). This volume's style is more akin to a museum tour, with meandering asides and conjectures. Taylor's references to subjects past and further-on are no trouble, if one reads to book front-to-back. I can see how students picking through the book "salad-bar" style would become frustrated.

For a book intended for the layman, the style is very effective. As a casual read, it was intruiging and entertaining. Taylor brought me to a more comprehensive view of our Solar System, and its strange members. He goes to great efforts to keep his writing accessible, and scientific jargon to a manageable level.

As a nit-picky student of English, I'll confess to not seeing all the "typos" mentioned in prior reviews. Either I missed them, or the other readers are in error. One glaring error I did notice was a picture and caption reference to a "Brontosaurus." This term has been out of favor for decades, and is only seen in books for children. The correct word is "Apatosaurus."

For a good view of the present state of knowledge of the origins of the Solar System, I'd recommend this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very well written 9 Mar 2011
By Penfield, NY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is really very well written. I understand the planets MUCH better than many books I've read. I would give it 6 stars if I could. I couldn't stop reading it -it's really different from the other books. Take it out of the library first and read it - you'll want to buy it! I couldn't wait to get it!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Some scientist just can't write for non-scientists 9 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Taylor has written one of the worst science books I have ever read. If I didn't have to finish it for class, I would have put (nay, THREW) it down before the first chapter was over. I'm not criticizing the science in the book, which I believe is quite good, since Taylor is a well-respected planetary geologist. The problems with this book, rather, are primarily grammatical and stylistic. First, and most ingratiating, Taylor keeps telling us that he will explain things "later". I lost count of the number of times the sentence "More on that later." ends a paragraph. Secondly, there are a number of typographical errors in the book, mainly the kind discovered only by human proofreaders (like using "from" instead of "form"). It seems as if Taylor just did a spell check on his final draft and then sent it off to the printers. Thirdly, there is no flow to the book. Sentences are, for the most part, simple. Paragraphs and sections follow one another with apparently no connection, like a laundry list of information. Unlike a novel, the reader of this kind of book should have some idea where it is going and what grand statement is being proved. This doesn't happen. Fourthly, Taylor spends too much time explaining simple concepts but not enough time on difficult concepts. He also thinks that annoying pop culture references will clarify things. Finally, otherwise this list would be much to long, Taylor doesn't show any interest in his subject. I know he IS interested, since he spent his entire life studying our solar system, but you wouldn't get that idea from the book. This must be due to bad writing. Sorry Taylor, but you ... at it.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Chaos in the making 5 May 2001
By Martin Peacock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The main point of this book is the chaotic way in which our solar system came into being. It cannot be described in a systematic scientific way, but is rather a hotchpotch of elements thrown together through a series of bewilderingly complex and random processes.
A bit like Mr Taylor's book in fact.
Perhaps in order to empathise with his content, Mr Taylor has adopted a style of writing and presentation that is every bit as chaotic and unstructured as our solar system.
Muddled, repetitive, incohesive and full of irritating references to what was said earlier or what is about to be said, the book reads like a series of draft lecture notes thrown together with all the abandon that distinguishes the creation of our solar system.
Above all, the poor quality of description makes the reading a frustrating experience:
"When a meteorite or comet hits the surface, debris is thrown out by the explosion and surrounds the crater like a blanket. Unlike craters on other planets, those on Venus often have a missing sector. This gap is caused when the rubble thrown-out (sic) by the explosion runs into turbulence in the atmosphere caused by the incoming meteorite or asteroid. The flung-out rock just gets tossed aside."
As did this book.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An interesting jaunt through the solar system 30 July 2002
By John Brooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Destiny or Chance is an interesting look at the question of how we got here. Whether or not we are here by accident is an important question as it deeply influences how we view ourselves and other people. Taylor takes us through many (what he sees as) amazing coincidences that got us here in an interesting journey. The order in which he presents the material is a bit different, but it is logical in retrospect.
As for the conclusions he offers, I must respectfully disagree with him. He shows clearly that our presence here is either the most amazing of coincidences or a clear miracle, but he chooses the coincidence. He then spends a little time complaining that we don't spend our limited time here better. I find that inconsistent, though -- if we are here by accident, there is no higher calling to direct our lives. It is only if we were put here by a higher being (read, God) that anyone has a right to say that better should be expected of us.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting read full of sometimes startling facts.
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