George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking
|George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A second adventure for the young eager scientist and his friends, again seeing his path being scattered across the universe by unlikely technology. This look at the science within the science fiction is an improvement on the first volume, however.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: April 2009|
I have to say I wasn't completely convinced by the first George book. The child of eco-Luddites, who is introduced to space science courtesy of his pet pig, the girl next door, and a very unlikely-seeming super computer, got thrown around the solar system and still survived to best the bullies at school. This promised more of the same, but everything is bigger, and better.
The concentration here is less on what makes our solar system, but starts from the physical act of man going out into it - and what he might find. We get the energetic drama of the space shuttle launch, the work of taking robotic craft to other planets to search for life's traces - which is what the girl next door's father is working on here. We see the balance between the minuscule odds we are the only intelligent life form in the universe, and the very difficulties of encountering other such beings.
However something seems to be leaving a galactic message, and as unlikely as it will appear at the start of this book, George and his friends must once again don their space suits and go and put things to rights.
As I said, everything here is better and bigger. The chapters are larger, and so rely on less frequent but stronger narrative hooks. The parents are packed away, and the bullies have dropped off to be replaced by a uber-geek boy who of course is a decent friendly kid in the end. But obviously, coming from Professor Stephen Hawking and his daughter, there is more to this book than just the drama.
The first was noticeable for its format - it gave us box-outs to explain the science, and some glossy, expensive-looking galleries of relevant pictures. Here these are again fewer but larger. Last time we had an inset inside an essay - itself interrupted by pictures. Here we get relevant essays given us courtesy of one of George's own science books, and the box-outs can be left for catching up with later.
As a result the story flows better, we still get the science that may just swing this book into the highly-justified purchase category for the parent, and on the whole everyone is happier. I should say there is one essay here - they mostly have guest authors - that needed a more child-friendly rewrite before being put in such a book, but the eager young scientist will learn as well as be entertained by the story. It's still boiling down to unlikely science providing George and us with the real nature of our galaxy, but that quibble aside is a very educational adventure.
I nearly gave this four stars (plus a few passing comets, planetary nebulae - that kind of thing) but my rating also boiled down to what it could have been. Nowhere has the series sounded worthy, and the reading is always fresh and sprightly. The illustrations and large print make this a quick read, and it is hoped it is shelved next to a proper space encyclopaedia, such as the excellent Voyage Across The Cosmos by Giles Sparrow, but still there is re-reading value to be had in these pages. It's a book very nicely marrying science fact with fictional fun, and it deserves an esteemed Bookbag recommendation.
We at the Bookbag are grateful to the publishers for our review copy.
Readers of this may also enjoy Dot Robot by Jason Bradbury.
You can read more book reviews or buy George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.