Templar Publishing, £12.99, ISBN 978-1-84877-199-4
Alan Dyer’s Star: From Birth to Black Hole is, without a doubt, a beautiful book. They certainly didn’t skimp on the budget when it comes to the visuals, and the layout of each page is designed to showcase the gorgeous photographs and illustrations.
This book is all about stars, of course. It starts out with the Big Bang Theory (no, not the TV show – duh), and goes on to touch on everything related to the stars, including how a star can die. The author doesn’t go too deeply into things, making this one more of an introductory-level read for folks interested in astronomy. Do note that the text expects readers to have some passing familiarity with science and maths jargon, such as “quark”, “neutron”, and more. There is a glossary here, but it isn’t thorough. Other than that, this is a pretty easy to read book.
I personally enjoy the star map and the visual depiction of how black holes are formed. I’m familiar with most of the stuff here, but it’s a lovely trip all the same, looking at the graphics and marveling at how lovely everything can look.
Oh, and folks who believe in creationism won’t find anything here that would be of use, but they can always look at the nice pictures. Maybe I’m odd, but I personally think the way Star: From Birth to Black Hole brings space to life can actually encourage people to believe that there is a divine force at work, because how can anything this breathtaking to behold be formed from supposedly random collisions of particles?
I’m not sure about some sections, such as the flags of the world that use a star motive. Such information may be useful for trivia games, but they stand out like very obvious filler material in an otherwise solid introductory-level astronomy book.
Also present here is a short graphic novel thing about Galileo’s trial before the Inquisition, where he is forced to recant on his research and theories that the Earth revolves around the Sun. There is nothing too preachy here, just stating the facts, but this is also another strike against the book for folks who are into creationism – but then again, I doubt those folks would be picking this book up in the first place, heh.
There is also a silly computer game CD attached, presenting a game mostly involving testing your knowledge and such. It’s not my thing, but I suppose it’d make a great complementary educational aide for kids.
Anyway, Star: From Birth to Black Hole is a gorgeous book to read and to look at, so it’s worth the money. As a plus, it’s printed on good quality thick paper so it can withstand some beating and abuse from careless kids.