by David A. Hardy & Patrick Moore
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Futures, by David A. Hardy and Patrick Moore, is one of those art books which is much, much more than simply a collection of art. The two men have worked closely on the project, over a fifty year period, bringing out updated editions at various intervals. Hardy's artwork in the book represents the best possible representation of astronomical knowledge while Moore's writing explains what the reader is looking at as well as the history of change behind the knowledge displayed.
The paintings in the book are well produced and often present an almost photorealistic depiction of their scenes on Venus or Jupiter, even when depicting planetary features which we know are no longer accurate. Other times, the pictures are clearly drawings and paintings, but no less brilliant for their lack of realism. Hardy's depictions of alien worlds which are real places, are as astonishing as the photos sent back from probes and the Hubble.
Moore's contribution of text to the book is also astounding. Moore has always had the special gift of explaining science to the non-scientist. In Futures, he not only explains the science of the solar system and beyond, but also explains the history of the science, so the reader knows how our current theories of cosmogony and cosmology came into being over the last several decades. Not only are the Heavens constantly changing, but our understanding of the rules that guide those changes is also in a constant state of flux.
When taken individually, either Hardy or Moore's accomplishments would be wonderful to peruse. When examined in tandem, as the book is designed, each supplements and augments the other, making the two halves together greater than the sum of their parts. Futures becomes not just an attractive art book, but a beautifully illustrated introduction to astronomy for those who already have knowledge of the topic as well as those with only a layperson's knowledge.
Futures is a beautifully produced book with pictures that will cause the reader to skim through it time and again, finding old favorites and discovering details of other pictures that had previously eluded them. The background text is presented in an easy to read manner which makes the artwork more than just a series of pretty pictures, but rather instead an excellent depiction of the universe around us with explanations of what Hardy is showing us.