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Futures: 50 Years In Space
David A. Hardy and Patrick Moore
Artists and Photographers Press Ltd (AAPPL) hardcover £17.99

review by Tony Lee

The Challenge Of The Stars was originally planned 1954, yet its publication was delayed until 1972, with a second edition in 1978. This magnificent new volume is a fully revised and updated version that combines educational astronomy texts from Sir Patrick Moore with a science fictional art anthology by David A. Hardy. Drawing on pictures from the 1970s' editions while showcasing more recent and many brand new paintings, Futures presents a remarkable collection of past, present and futuristic views of neighbouring planets, the Solar system, and far beyond.

Launching on an epic journey from space stations in Earth orbit and colony-bases on the Moon, the book guides us to Mars, Venus, and Jupiter and the varied Jovian moons, stopping only to visit the asteroid belt and a comet or two. As fascinating as the authentic NASA photographs and space movies are, nothing distils all the available scientific data into visual form better than an expert illustrator's painting. And here, Hardy strives to capture a sense of these known and remotely visited (though unexplored) places, carefully balancing artistic licence and imagination with speculative realism. It's no exaggeration to say there's inspiration for budding astronomers, astronauts, science fiction writers and novice space-artists on every page.

It's interesting to note how the NASA and Soviet robot probes of the 1970s completely changed science's ideas about the Jovian system and Saturn's moons, and even flyby missions to gas giants Uranus and Neptune during the 1980s' did not reveal as much detail as the Hubble space telescope has discovered since. All the most recent findings and observations are fed into Hardy's latest batch of digitally-enhanced interplanetary vistas and moonscapes, and it's amusing to see how much these colourful 'otherworldly' images have had to be corrected after just 25 years of further studies.

Not content with a solar tour, Moore and Hardy include striking portraits of the nearest and brightest stars, a black hole, plus spectacular novae and nebula phenomena, and depictions of galaxies including our own Milky Way.

A different version of this review appeared in Starburst magazine.
Futures: 50 Years in Space

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