We all know the story of Icarus, that reckless young man who ignored his father’s warning and flew too close to the sun. Brian Greene has updated that classic tale, giving it a decidedly 21st-century spin.
In Icarus at the Edge of Time, we meet another young man. The great-grandson of an adventurer and explorer, this Icarus is part of a group of space travelers who have set out on a twenty-five-trillion-mile journey to the Proxima system. Icarus will not live to see Proxima – it will be the fifth generation of the original spacefarers who finally complete the journey.
When the expedition discovers a black hole along the way, this Icarus finds it too tempting to resist. Despite the warning of his father and others, and just like the original daredevil, young Icarus flies much too close to that powerful phenomenon.
While the earlier story is a cautionary tale, Icarus at the Edge of Time has a not-entirely sad ending. This one is more a tale of education, delivered by a professor of mathematics and physics at Columbia University. Greene is the author of The Elegant Universe (for which he received a Pulitzer nomination) and The Fabric of the Cosmos, which both explore areas of quantum physics in an intelligent yet reader-friendly fashion.
Now Greene has taken his passion for science and his understanding of human nature to a new genre. While written with young readers in mind, this board book uses beautiful graphics and clever design to engage the eye, as well as an emotional element within the story itself to engage the heart. All the while, Greene is teaching us the fundamentals about black holes – those fascinating and mysterious regions of space where gravity is so powerful that not even light can escape its grasp.
A brief explanation of black holes is included, along with a collection of illustrations depicting nebulas, other galaxies, and a glorious photograph of our own earth. Space exploration enthusiasts of any age would be glad to add Icarus at the Edge of Time to their collections, and who knows – this may become another of those classic tales that is repeated generation after generation.