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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars

on 24 November 2004
The television programme was highly entertaining and seems likely to become a classic of its kind; it is already being hailed as something which will inspire the imagination and encourage a generation to see science as exciting and expansive and creative! It makes a lot of sense to buy the DVD (please see my review). But the book of the television series? I must confess, I wasn't entirely convinced at first reading.
The television series combined the latest in computer generated special effects with the latest in scientific knowledge, knitting them together with an engaging plot. Take a crew of space travellers, send them on a six year exploration of the solar system, and follow their lives and the lives of the staff of the command centre as they break new ground in exploration and scientific knowledge.
Much of the drama, the science and the wonder relied heavily on the moving image, on the ability to make the special effects look like live coverage of events unfolding before your eyes. You could believe it as a spectacle, see yourself as a television onlooker following the news broadcasts and documentaries which would inevitably accompany the space flight.
Can a book capture the same sense of immediacy, the same sense of being there, being part of history, following a bunch of strangers as they become part of your life? It took me two readings to get a sense of enjoying the book. While it parallels the television programme, the book does so in a traditional medium - the story unfolds in the diaries of the participants, interspaced with factual clips, details of the history of space exploration, descriptions of the planets and the technology. It's a good, entertaining, and educational read.
But what holds the book together are the photographs and illustrations. They really are outstanding. It's the sort of book you would leave on your coffee table, or bedside cabinet, or wherever, to pick up now and again and admire. The imagery, the imagination, the whole visual impact is outstanding.
If your kids are captured by the televisuals and the still pictures, maybe this is another way to encourage them to read, to appreciate that a good narrative and a sense of adventure can be conveyed by the written word, not just by computer graphics. Maybe it's one way to convince them - or yourself - that it is possible to read about science and still be 'cool', or at least not bored rigid. At £12, the book is competitively priced and excellent value ... but I'd still buy the DVD first.
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on 28 January 2007
A Great Book on Space for the whole family and really accessible to all readers wanting to learn more about the secrets of the Universe. Top marks for a really well put together book which goes perfectly with the TV series. My kids got both books and DVD for Christmas and are now space mad.... anything that distracts them from Computers or i-pods is fine by me.
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