The natural world is the standout star of this book which tells the tale of a father, Theo, and his young son, Robin. There is no denying the beauty in the writing, which puts you right there, in the wilderness, with them. But on any page it can also deliver an emotional punch. Like the passing of a season the story slowly unravels; it is not one to race through. Instead, let the book grow and it will give you much to contemplate.
They share a lot, astronomy and childhood. Both are voyages across huge distances. Both search for facts beyond their grasp. Both theorize wildly and let possibilities multiply without limits. Both are humbled every week. Both operate out of ignorance. Both are mystified by time. Both are forever starting out.
For a dozen years, my job made me feel like a child, I sat behind the computer in my office looking at data sets from telescopes and toying with formulas that could describe them. I roamed the halls in search of minds who might want to come out and play. I lay in bed with a canary-yellow legal pad and a black fine liner, re-creating the journeys to Cygnus A or through the Large Magellanic Cloud or around the Tadpole Galaxy, trips I'd once made in pulp novels. This time around, none of the indigenous inhabitants spoke English or practiced telepathy or floated parasitically through the frozen vacuum or linked together in hive minds to enact their master plans. All they did was metabolize and respire. But in my infant discipline that was magic enough.
I made worlds by the thousands. I simulated their surfaces and cores and living atmospheres. I surveyed the ratios of telltale gases that might accumulate depending on a planet's evolving inhabitants.