The Planets

The Planets
© 2003 Dava Sobel
288 pages

Like Lives of the Planets, Sobel’s The Planets is a flyby through the solar system. The inclusion of the Sun and Moon give this a classical feel, since those bodies were considered by the Greeks to be wanderers as well. This is most likely intentional, because Sobel steeps her descriptions of the planets’ exploration in the language of mythology and poetry, sometimes to a distracting level. A discussion of Holst’s suite, “The Planets”, is also included; although Sobel mentions a growing fascination with the scientific understanding of the solar system, the music was mostly inspired by the planets’ astrological import. Astrology also features heavily in one chapter, which will raise some hackles — it did mine. Mythology and poetry can be used for literary effect, but astronomy fought too long and too hard to escape its mooney-eyed cousin to sudden be thrown back into relations again. For the lay person, there is actual content here, just not a great deal — don’t expect tables of comparative volume, or probe photographs. There’s discussion of Venus’s greenhouse effect, of course, and Mars’ past life as a livable planet, and the curious relationship between Mercury’s rotation and revolution. Some of the information is delivered in…well, let’s say unconventional ways. In the chapter on Mars, for instance, the reader is given a lecture by a rock on its life history. This book is interesting if limited; for someone who has expressed mild curiosity about the lives of planets, sure — give it go. There’s lot of poetry and history to ease you into the waters before being surprised with ruminating on Jupiter’s cloud activity. The seriously interested reader has probably encountered the majority of the usual information before, however, and considered its datedness would probably be better off elsewhere.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
This entry was posted in Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Planets

  1. CyberKitten says:

    I've finally put together 3 science books to read later in the year (after my 2 politics triple headers). All on evolutionary biology… which is kinda my 'got to' subject.

  2. Stephen says:

    Are any of them recent releases? (I have at least two books purchased from that TBR list, both of which are on the biological side of things.)

  3. CyberKitten says:

    Two from 2014 and one from 2015.

Leave a Reply to Stephen Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s