Tag Archives: astronautics

Cosmic

Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce

My rating: 5 of 5

Liam has always been tall for his age, getting mistaken for being older than he is and being teased by other children for it. Now at the age of twelve, he’s already growing facial hair and being mistaken for an adult. Which is mostly awful. . . . But it does have its advantages at times. Like when he was mistaken for a new teacher at his new school or when he and his classmate Florida would go to the stores with him pretending to be her father. And ever one to push the limits, Liam begins to see just how far he can go with this “adult” thing–never dreaming that doing so would end up with him being stuck in a spaceship with a bunch of kids looking to him to get them safely home.

So, Cosmic was one of those books that blew my expectations completely out of the water. I had never even heard of the author previously (clearly an oversight on my part), and it appeared both from the cover and the description to be a rather average middle-grade story of hijinks and randomness. Well, the middle-grade hijinks and randomness is definitely there, but average this book is not. It uses humor and a tall tale sort of setting to look at what being an adult is really all about–as well as to examine how much the advantages of being an adult are wasted on actual grown-ups who don’t have the sense of fun and irresponsibility to really enjoy them. It also looks at major themes like fatherhood and the relationships between fathers and their children in a way that is quite touching. But the story never gets bogged down in these themes; rather they are revealed gradually through the improbable and ridiculous circumstances in which Liam and his companions find themselves. It’s very funny–perhaps even more so reading this as an adult, although this is definitely written for a younger audience and is completely appropriate for such, even for a younger elementary grade readership. There’s something of a universality in the midst of absurdity to be found in Cosmic, and I would highly recommend this book.

 

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Interstellar

Directed by Christopher NInterstellarolan/Produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan, & Lynda Obst/Written by Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan/Music by Hans Zimmer/Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, & Michael Caine

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Once, Cooper lived his dream, piloting spaceships and living a life of discovery and adventure. Now, seemingly lifetimes later, he and his family live on a dying planet, eking out a living by farming–barely keeping ahead of the dust enough to survive. No one goes into space anymore. Actually, the kids in school (his daughter Murphy included) are being taught that no one ever went into space, that it was all a lie. But even in the midst of this worldwide depression, Coop can’t forget; he still dreams of the life that’s gone forever. . . . Or so he thinks. When an unexplained phenomenon (which Murph calls her “ghost”) gives them the coordinates to a secret NASA base, the future opens up to Coop–a life once again pursuing his dream as an astronaut. Only this time, the stakes are unimaginable: the lives of everyone on the dying planet he’s leaving behind. But is saving the world worth leaving his family behind, possibly forever?

First of all, I need to make it clear that Interstellar is not a movie I would have picked for myself, and my rating is unfavorably (and probably unfairly) skewed just because this isn’t really my sort of movie. In other words, my brothers made me watch this. There is honestly a lot that is good about this story. For one, the music is epic–I always love Hans Zimmer’s OSTs. Visually, the entire movie is incredibly striking as well. The acting is very well done. The science is convincing. I was intrigued by the exploration of topics such as the nature of time and the theory of relativity. But what I found most fascinating about this story was the psychological studies is provided: the lonely few who venture into the unknown, those left behind feeling abandoned, those who had given up all hope of ever seeing another human again. I think the writing and acting both dealt with these excellently. Oh, and the suspense levels throughout are absolutely killer–mostly in a good way. So, with all these good things, why the low rating? I think it’s mostly for personal reasons, honestly. Although the way the creators dealt with the isolation of space was well done, it was just too sad and lonely for me. And the attempt to redeem that sadness was too little, too late, in my opinion. Also, as I said before, the science was convincing (except for Murph’s poltergeist) . . . up until the last little bit when they got into extremely theoretical science, to the point that it was quite unconvincing in my opinion. More like fanciful guesswork? Maybe they had some basis in real scientific theory for how they wrote it, but it was lost on me. Finally, I just found the whole movie to be too long–I mean, it needed to be that long to get the story in, but between the length and the suspense, I was completely exhausted by the end. So, I guess it really just depends on your taste–if you like this sort of movie, Interstellar is a pretty outstanding story. But personally, I prefer Nolan’s work on The Dark Knight and Inception.

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