The Bottom Line
- Beautifully illustrated with pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope
- A clear story that illustrates many principles of relativity and black hole physics
- Unclear what age range the book is actually intended for.
- Large, beautiful images are obstructed by the picture of the black hole.
- hardback "board book"
- 22 pages, containing 14 space images obtained from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (plus a picture of the Earth)
- Written by string theorist Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos
Guide Review - Icarus at the Edge of Time by Brian Greene
In Greene's version of the tale, Icarus is a brilliant boy on an interstellar voyage. Destined to live and die aboard a spaceship traveling between the stars, he modifies a shuttle design and - despite warnings from his father - goes out to explore a black hole.
Unfortunately for young Icarus, Einstein's theory of relativity dictates what happens next. The curvature of spacetime near the black hole means that time for Icarus is different than the time outside, and when Icarus returns to his father, it is too late ... many years have passed for him.
The book succeeds brilliantly at its main objective: clearly demonstrating the relativity concepts related to a black hole in a language which is enjoyable to even a very young reader.
The book is written on a thick "board" type of material which I typically associate with an extremely young child's book, but the story is a bit more refined. There's no indication on the book what age it's really intended for. My three year old was unimpressed by the story or the pictures. Can't blame a dad for trying! I am guessing he'll be a bit more engaged in a few more years.
Another issue is that the book includes a black circle in the center of each page, representing the black hold. It gets larger as Icarus approaches it and smaller as he leaves. That's all well and good, but it obstructs some truly glorious space images! (The unobstructed images are presented, in a smaller thumbnail version, at the end of the book.)
The book is very enjoyable and for a child of the right age (whatever that is), it would be an excellent introduction to modern physics concepts.