Icarus at the Edge of Time

Brian Greene, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-307-26888-4
Be forewarned: this is not like anything else the bestselling physicist Greene (The Elegant Universe) has written. Nor is it a children's book, though it looks like one, with simple, didactic text and Chip Kidd's design for spectacular photos, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, of nebulae, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena, all on thick board. So what is this strange book? According to the publishers, it's a science title, but really it's a retelling of the myth of Icarus for the Star Wars generation. In Greene's version, Icarus, like his father, will live out his life on the starship Proxima, headed on a 23-trillion-mile journey to a planet that had sent intelligible radio signals to Earth. But the 14-year-old yearns to escape the Proxima's confines. So he gears up his Runabout-with a ""micro-warp-drive engine"" of his own design-and flits nimbly to the edge, not of the Sun, but of a black hole. But Icarus has forgotten about gravity's ability to warp time, and he will never reunite with his father or the Proxima again. Greene's impulsive teenager embodies well our insatiable desire to explore the universe, and Greene offers an ingenious transposition of the Icarus myth for the modern era. Yet the lesson Greene wants readers to take away is unclear: rather than dying, this Icarus is granted a stunning, if unbelievably optimistic, view of the future.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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