The Book's Structure
The narrative structure of the book comes from the manga (a Japanese style of comic book) section, which focuses on a story about a high school drama club. The club decides to do a play based upon an ancient Japanese myth, which keeps getting derailed by scientific discussions about the nature of the universe itself.
Interspersed with these manga sections are non-fiction sections that delve more deeply into the scientific concepts. These sections are written in prose, often containing diagrams, portraits of historical figures, equations, and other useful information.
I'll be honest in that I'm not actually a fan of the manga style of storytelling, because it's a little chaotic for my tastes. Even in my comic books, fantasy, and science fiction, I prefer a more realistic narrative style. Manga is a bit manic, jumping from the mundane to the outrageous and then back again, in a manner that I find off-putting. Despite that, though, the book is laid out so that people who enjoy these portions can read them and get something from them while people who - like me - don't particularly care for them can skim, going straight to the meatier science information.
The Book's Science
The Manga Guide to the Universe does an excellent job of addressing some of the biggest science questions out there, exploring both the history of cosmology and our the main riddles that still challenge physicists today. Anyone reading it would come away with a good understanding of the following scientific concepts:
- Ancient (pre-scientific) creation stories/myths
- Early astronomical discoveries of China and Greece
- Heliocentric versus geocentric models of the solar system
- The trial of Galileo Galilei
- Kepler's laws of motion
- Planets (and other bodies) in our solar system
- Assorted information about our own Milky Way galaxy
- The Big Bang theory, universal expansion, and large-scale structures in our universe
- Estimating the probability of aliens in our universe
- The possible future of the universe
- Are we part of a multiverse?
239 pages, with a prologue, 5 sections, and an index
Includes a "Gallery of Astronomical Marvels" at the end - 8 pages of full color space photographs, many of them from the Hubble Space Telescope
Cover price: $19.95 US/$22.95 CDN