Cover of Environments Out There
Book 80 Astronomy 1967
The Moon The Roman Empire
3 spaceships-and-suns
Asimov fan
1 spaceship-and-sun
Target reader

Out there…

on Venus and Mars and giant Jupiter…what’s it like? Is there air to breathe, water to drink? Could a man survive the blistering heat, the bone-chilling cold, the freakish gravity?

Don’t just stand there wondering. Do something. Read this book—and you’ll be joining Isaac Asimov in an astonishing tour full of surprise discoveries.

First, to the moon. Explore the weird craters, the lunar seas…

Next, the nearer planets and the asteroids. Probe for signs of life on Mars. Set up an observation post on tiny Ceres…

Push on to the satellites of the gas mammoths. For a special treat, make the trip to Mimas and study Saturn’s rings…

Tired? Take a rest stop on Pluto…

Then rocket to the stars—in thrilling search of other solar systems and other worlds!

Well, here we have it. My very first book by Isaac Asimov, purchased from a school “book club” when I was in third grade. I didn’t buy it because it was by Asimov, of course, but because it was about space. Indeed, it was several years before I even realized that this little space book which I enjoyed was by the same guy with the funny name whose science fiction I had started to love from reading Fantastic Voyage and other works.

In any event, I have a special fondness for this book, and the book is a good one, too. The writing is clear, the material covered is extensive, particularly when one thinks of the grade-school audience for which it is intended—we get lots of facts about the planets and other members of the solar system, some organic chemistry, physics, and so on.

The book particularly seems good when compared with The Moon, a slightly earlier work for a slightly younger audience. The first chapter here, also on the moon, has considerably more information in it in about the same amount of space, even allowing for the different audiences.

This would, in fact, be a top-notch work which I would heartily recommend to any child interested in astronomy (like my own), but

Alas, there is a problem here. Four decades of space-flight, both manned and unmanned, have brought about considerable advances in our knowledge and understanding of the solar system. Over and over there are basic facts where Asimov speculates on a possibility (moon-dust might be so thick to make walking impossible for astronauts), or mentions an unanswered question (just how many days does Mercury take to rotate once) or leaves an empty hole (Charon) which has been discounted, answered, or filled in the last forty years. On virtually every page, there is something which Asimov would write differently were he to write it now.

We won’t even mention the fact that Pluto is no longer a planet.

And so, although I love this little book which has spawned some five hundred siblings on my shelves, and would defend it like a mother bear her cubs—I really can’t recommend it highly. It’s just too old, and too out-of-date.

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