*Starred Review* Space-age prophet Arthur C. Clarke, one of three eloquent, forward-looking contributors to this pioneering and magnificent collection of pictures generated by the robotic space probes Galileo, Voyager, Pathfinder, Magellan, Viking, and other less commonly known mechanical explorers, describes these breathtaking images as "some of the greatest landscape pictures ever taken." The recognition that these miraculous images (supremely reproduced) are nothing less than works of art is the impetus for this resplendent volume, and discerning writer and documentary filmmaker Benson did, in fact, serve as the book's curator, searching through tens of thousands of digital images to find the most striking and beautiful scenes of the solar system, many never published before. Each sequence of finely detailed portraits of Earth, the Sun, the Moon, and our sister planets is sublimely exhilarating, particularly those of the volatile Jovian system, blue and serene Neptune, and elegant Saturn, which Benson describes as "cosmic perfection." Not only do Clarke, Benson, and Lawrence Weschler celebrate the ingenious technology of robotic space probes and their, as Weschler writes, "unparalleled ability to convey the sheer beauty and mystery" of the solar system, they also ponder, with great acumen, the metaphysical questions raised by these awesome new visions of the glorious cosmos. Donna Seaman
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About the Author
Michael Benson is a filmmaker and journalist. He has written, directed, and/or produced several documentary films. Predictions of Fire (1995) won the Best Documentary Feature Award from the National Film Board of Canada, First Prize at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, and was an official selection of the Sundance and Berlin film festivals. He has published numerous essays in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The International Herald Tribune, Interview, The Nation, The Village Voice, Sight and Sound, and other European media outlets. Sir Arthur C. Clarke is the greatest living prophet of the space age. Best known for his science fiction novels (2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End), he was awarded a knighthood for "services to literature." Lawrence Weschler is one the leading writers of non-fiction prose in the United States. He was a staff writer at the New Yorker for twenty years, covering the arts and politics. His most recent book was the popular Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders.