In this book Isaac Asimov uncovers facts about the solar system you may never have known before. Starting with the tides of the sea his discussion moves to the inner planets, the Asteroid Belt, the Gas Giants and, finally, the galaxy. Along the way, Asimov speculates on topics from extraterrestrial life to what a tenth planet might be like.

By the mid-1970’s, Asimov’s first five F&SF essay collections (Fact and Fancy, Adding a Dimension, View From a Height, and From Earth to Heaven) had gone out of hardback print. Asimov was persuaded therefore to take the 85 essays in each, divide them up by category, update them, and republish them. The results are in Asimov on Astronomy, Asimov on Chemistry, Asimov on Physics, and Asimov on Numbers. (The remaining 17 essays were too miscellaneous, I suppose, to bother recollecting.)

Despite the fact that their contents are all derived from earlier collections, I would strongly recommend all four—they are invaluable reference material, for one thing. For others, the essays are updated, indices are added, and there are nice pictures with explanatory captions—so they’re even better books than the originals.

Oddly enough, my copy of Asimov on Astronomy is, in fact, a paperback edition, even though the introduction by Asimov talks about the urgent need by Asimov fans to own all of his books in hard cover. The other three volumes in the series also came out in paperback eventually. Oh, well.

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