If you like your movies with star power, then Friday is a big day for you. That’s when the highly anticipated blockbuster Interstellar blasts into theaters, courtesy of director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, The Prestige).
Interstellar tells the story of a group of astronauts (led by Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey) who rockets into space searching for a new planet that humankind can call home. Their voyage into the unknown follows a space-faring tradition established decades ago, when the vision and labor of thousands of men and women culminated with human footsteps on the moon.
While it’s been a while since we’ve walked on the lunar surface, humankind has not yet finished roaming the heavens. So if Interstellar has only whetted your appetite for exploring the Final Frontier, here are some out-of-this-world books that will keep you reaching for the stars.
New Space Frontiers: Venturing into Earth Orbit and Beyond, by Piers Bizony (Zenith, 2014)
Interstellar is fiction, but might it be a portent of things to come? New Space Frontiers examines that question. While the U.S. space shuttle fleet is retired, the era of space exploration is far from over. More human-carrying vessels are being constructed now than ever before, humankind has a permanent presence in space aboard the International Space Station, and commercial space flight is rapidly becoming a reality. In the lavishly illustrated New Space Frontiers, science and space author Bizony speculates on what our next step into space might be.
A stunning collection of photographs and essays takes the reader behind the scenes of the two-week mission of the space shuttle Atlantis to save the Hubble Space Telescope. Author Soluri, a 15-year veteran of photographing the people and places of space exploration, coached Atlantis’s astronauts to take photographs the way an artist would: as explorations of human curiosity and vision. The result is a breathtaking view not only of this mission, but of our ultimate ambitions of exploring the universe. With a foreword by John Glenn, Infinite Worlds is a keepsake for the space history buff as well as the amateur astronomer.
The Martian: A Novel, by Andy Weir (Crown 2014)
Space exploration has always been fraught with danger, and in this thriller, an astronaut fights for survival alone on the surface of Mars. Astronaut Mark Watney’s crew believes him to be dead, and a freak dust storm forces them to evacuate the planet. Now Watney is marooned as no human has ever been, and he’s forced to rely on his skill, his resourcefulness and his determination in order to survive. Can his iron will survive the harsh environment of the red planet? Booklist calls The Martian “riveting,” adding that “the novel is a tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man’s ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”
A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts, by Andrew Chaikin (Penguin 2007)
A thrilling look back at the glory days when humankind dared to take its first steps off the surface of the Earth, A Man on the Moon takes the reader behind the scenes of the legendary Apollo program. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with astronauts and key behind-the-scene NASA personnel, the book (which features a foreword by Apollo 13 star Tom Hanks) is a portrait of unparalleled human brilliance, courage and achievement.