Plot/Idea: Taking a unique approach to memoir, Bullis invites the reader to see the other 99% of the Milky Way at a molecular level. Bullis presents beautifully illuminated photos that contain brilliant colors and shapes. With immersive, science-based text, this work provides a vision of how the Earth began with the Big Bang.
Prose: Astrophysicists will certainly have the advantage of understanding the lingo used by the author; however, the evocative descriptions and warmth of the writing allows the novice astronomer to enjoy the material as well.
Originality: This book provides a unique perspective on the sky that many readers will have never encountered. Adding the captions along the top and integrating them with photos and text keeps readers invested throughout the pages. Each pass through the book allows the reader to discover something new.
Character Development/Execution: Bullis takes a complicated concept and makes it beautiful and pleasing to the eye by combining art and astronomy. Large captions carry the storyline and draw the reader into the depths of the sky. Readers will never look at the sky the same way again. Not only does he describe the scenes in the Milky Way in meticulous but accessible detail, he also includes information about other dynamics of the environment such as sound and temperature.
Date Submitted: November 23, 2021
The interaction of astrophysics and art excites Bullis. Whimsical captions run above the images (“Why don’t I see the familiar face hiding in all this hair?” asks one, over an arresting vision of the Seven Sisters star cluster), sometimes linking together in a loose narrative. The tone of these and of the explanatory essays accompanying the images varies between attempts at humor, technical discussions that could use clearer context, and some inviting answers to big questions, sometimes at such length that the text can appear crammed onto the page, the design decisions diminishing the impact of the images.
The essays prove strongest when Bullis points out what these fresh looks at astronomical objects reveal about them and our universe, or answers questions about the shape of a space "balloon" or why it took astronomers so long to detect the Circinus Galaxy. While some layout choices and technical terms may prove off-putting to casual readers, Bullis succeeds in offering an exciting new look at the universe.
Takeaway: This collection of images of our universe invites readers to look beyond the visual spectrum.
Great for fans of: Light from the Void: Twenty Years of Discovery with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Michael Werner and Peter Eisenhardt’s More Things in the Heavens: How Infrared Astronomy Is Expanding Our View of the Universe.
Design and typography: C
Marketing copy: B