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Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate…

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier (2012)

by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Other authors: Avis Lang (Editor)

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I like Neil deGrasse Tyson, generally speaking, but I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this one. It's not a coherent, unified book about space exploration, as I assumed when I picked it up, but a very loose collection of magazine articles, snippets of interviews, transcripts of speeches, and other bits and pieces. All of them are about, or at least related to, the topic of space travel, with a fair amount of emphasis on the politics of space travel, why we do or don't put money and resources into it, and why Tyson thinks it's worth doing so.

Some of the articles go back as far as the 1990s, and, although he's apparently updated the science in some of them, the political landscape and the state of the space program have changed a lot over that amount of time. And the contents aren't in any order, so exactly what constitutes"current" in his discussions of current events in space bounces back and forth in time throughout the book.

It's also a bit repetitive. Tyson has a lot of particular examples and turns of phrase he likes to use, and a lot of specific points he likes to make. Which is fine, as they're generally good points and good examples, but the fact that the contents have been collected from so many spread-out sourcess means that we get to read him making them over and over again in different contexts, which gets a little annoying.

While some of the pieces in here are kind of slight, and few them take too deep a dive into their subject matter, there are quite a few that, taken by themselves, are good and very much worth reading. So this may be a worthwhile book to dip in and out of, a chapter or two at a time, if you have some interest in space and space travel and the issues that surround them, but not a huge amount of personal knowledge on the subject. But I don't recommend reading it straight through, and if you already have some familiarity with the subject, and with Tyson's opinions about it, there's not necessarily going to be a lot here that's new for you. ( )
1 vote bragan | Dec 7, 2016 |
I'm definitely a fan of deGrasse Tyson. He is thoughtful, enthusiastic, and passionate about space exploration of all kinds, and what it means for humans and sometimes specifically what it means for Americans.

The book is a collection of his essays, keynote addresses, and interviews over the last several years. Because the pieces were not written as a homogeneous whole, there is a fair amount of overlap across the essays. I took my time reading it, but still toward the end I was getting a little tired of the repetition.

Still, I hope deGrasse Tyson succeeds in reigniting people's fascination for the cosmos. I'd definitely support more of our tax money going to NASA. ( )
  louis.arata | Jul 31, 2015 |
While I did enjoy the history of NASA and our early motivations (the Cold War) to venture out into space NDT talks about, this book felt more like a slapped together and unfinished collection of separate pieces. The fact that several essays and speeches were used as the source materials created too much overlap and therefore the book had little to no flow. The same topics and stats were constantly used in different chapters and by the end it became quite preachy. Still, some interesting segments - 3/5. ( )
  bois3130 | Dec 1, 2014 |
oh...did i ever love this book!! so much. i am already a big fan of mr. neil degrasse tyson and this book just helped cement that love for me. dude is just awesome-sauce deluxe! i really like him because he just seems to OOZE passion for and in his work and he also seems to always be having a good time and able to poke a bit of fun at himself (hello big bang theory appearance. HA!).

when i finished this read a little bit ago, i began reading some reviews here on GR, to see what people thought. two things jumped out at me:

1) complaints about the repetition in the book. there was a bit of it, i agree. but it didn't bother me at all. in fact, when some things were mentioned a 2nd or 3rd time, it only served to help cement an idea in my brain. i am not a dumb-dumb...but NdGT is a super-smart guy and he could easily talk or write in a manner that would only work for people in his same field of work or other really, really smart people. i didn't feel like he dumbed anything down, just to be clear, but i think the repetition was helpful. i like the way he can take very complicated information and make it digestible and interesting!!

2) complaints about this being very america-centric and an accusation of 'jingoism'. sigh. i am canadian. we just had a wonderful astronaut in space, in charge of the I.S.S - commander chris hadfield. WOOT! canada, though not a superpower on the space frontier has made some great contributions through technology, invention and its people. the fact we didn't get much notice in the book? WHO CARES? NdGT is american. NASA and the space program are solidly rooted american creations. the work NdGT does is in the efforts of american progress. he has a global understanding and respect for other nations and their space programs, this was obvious. but of course the perspective is going to be american and enthusiastic. NdGT also mentions often the idea that space is non-partisan and the future will be about international cooperation.

i made a gushy post within a group i belong to, earlier today, so i am going to copy it here because there was a link i shared that i really liked:

okay, so i mentioned i am reading [b:Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier|11982578|Space Chronicles Facing the Ultimate Frontier|Neil deGrasse Tyson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1330979198s/11982578.jpg|16946049] already. i am now about halfway through and i am really digging it. the book is a collection of essays and interviews [a:Neil deGrasse Tyson|12855|Neil deGrasse Tyson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1233333502p2/12855.jpg] has given over the years. this morning i sampled a few reviews and the one thing i noticed was that people complained about there being repetition. i did notice this while i was reading, but for me, when the repetition has happened, it only served to reinforce and idea or solidify information into my brain. it doesn't happen a lot (or hasn't to the point i am at, anyway).

one of the ides NdGT touches on is the issue of manned space flight versus robots. he clearly states he doesn't see it as an either/or scenario and while the cost to send a person into space is up to 50 times more expensive than sending robotics...you cannot program for certain things. one being the quest to explore. i have loved the essays dealing with this subject.

i also like one part where he weighs in on his personal experiences growing up. he was very interested in sciences and space from a young age, but being young and black in brooklyn in the 60s did not cry out "PATH OF AN ASTROPHYSICIST!!" to him. he pointed out issues that of course, we know about given what was going on in society at that time. but reading his thoughts and feelings on how the politics of race and segregation affected him...was really moving. (a letter was sent to NASA demanding they recruit black students from alabama and tuskageee into their programs, and bringing them onto staff, as one example.)

so i was really interested when i came across this piece on brain pickings about how to be an explorer.

( )
  Booktrovert | Sep 20, 2013 |
Space Chronicles is a collection of previously published columns, articles and speeches by Neil deGrasse Tyson. If you've heard him speak in the last few years, this is familiar material. It was great breakfast reading material: each essay is short, slightly intellectually challenging, and inspirational (study Science! go to Mars! we can do it!). ( )
  bexaplex | Aug 31, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393082105, Hardcover)

A thought-provoking and humorous collection on NASA and the future of space travel.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rare breed of astrophysicist, one who can speak as easily and brilliantly with popular audiences as with professional scientists. Now that NASA has put human space flight effectively on hold—with a five- or possibly ten-year delay until the next launch of astronauts from U.S. soil—Tyson’s views on the future of space travel and America’s role in that future are especially timely and urgent. This book represents the best of Tyson’s commentary, including a candid new introductory essay on NASA and partisan politics, giving us an eye-opening manifesto on the importance of space exploration for America’s economy, security, and morale. Thanks to Tyson’s fresh voice and trademark humor, his insights are as delightful as they are provocative, on topics that range from the missteps that shaped our recent history of space travel to how aliens, if they existed, might go about finding us.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:15 -0400)

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson presents his views on the future of space travel and America's role in that future, giving his readers an eye-opening manifesto on the importance of space exploration for America's economy, security, and morale.

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