Dr. Fred Bortz



This page of the Science Shelf is a subset of the full list of books reviewed by date for people who love books about space and astronomy.

Dear Science Readers,

This site is a continuously growing archive of my book reviews. It is self-funded, with part of the cost covered by your purchases through my Amazon.com links. Thanks to an increasing number of visitors, revenues now cover most of my cost. I appreciate your support.

As of now, not all past reviews have been added, but I will be adding them and activating their links at a steady pace. If you see the name of a book without an active link and would be interested in my review, or if you click on a link and and get an error message, please
For a time, I added books that I had seen and could recommend, but had not written reviews for. Those books are designated with an asterisk (*) below.

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Scientifically yours,
Fred Bortz

Note: All materials on this site are the copyrighted property of Alfred B. Bortz. Individuals may print single copies of reviews or columns for their own use. For permission to publish or print multiple copies of any of the materials on this site, please contact the author by e-mail.

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Space book lovers may want to visit children's science writer and former NASA flight controller Marianne Dyson's webpage of reviews of children's space books.

Reviews of books in reverse chronological order by year of publication.
For the current year, the newest additions to the site are listed first.
For previous years, they are listed alphabetically by title (neglecting initial "a/an" or "the") within each year.

[Space Art] [2011 and later] [2010] [2009] [2008][2007][2006][World Year of Physics 2005][2005] [2004] [2003] [2002] [2001] [2000] [Before 2000]


2011 and later

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe by Lisa Randall

First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth by Marc Kaufman

Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us by Donald K. Yeomans


Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach


Pluto Confidential: An Insider Account of the Ongoing Battles Over the Status of Pluto by Laurence A. Marschall and Stephen P. Maran

Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon by Craig Nelson

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone

The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets by Alan Boss

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson


Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future by Jeffrey Bennett


Is Pluto a Planet? A Historical Journey Through the Solar System by David A. Weintraub


Civilized Life in the Universe: Scientists on Extraterrestrial Intelligence by George Basalla

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan, edited by Ann Druyan


Life As We Do Not Know It: The NASA Search for (and Synthesis of) Alien Life by Peter Ward

The Planets by Dava Sobel

Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope by Fred Watson

Books for the World Year of Physics, 2005

Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons by George Pendle

Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science by M. G. Lord

Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning Interstellar Exploration by Paul Gilster


Archives of the Universe: A Treasury of Astronomy's Historic Works of Discovery edited and with Introduction by Marcia Bartusiak*

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith*

Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil by David Goodstein

The Real Mars by Michael Hanlon


Alpha and Omega: The Quest for the Beginning and End of the Universe by Charles Seife

The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe by Chet Raymo

Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of the World Beyond by Marina Benjamin


Column published November 10, 2002, A Tale of Two Planets reviewing books about the mapping and measurement of Earth and Mars.

Column published July 14, 2002 (Books about the World of 2050) supplemented by links to reviews of related books.

Column published February 3, 2002 (Books about Extra-solar Planets and Extraterrestrial Life) supplemented by additional material about older books on those fields and the people who work in them.

Distant Wanderers: The Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System by Bruce G. Dorminey

Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World by Oliver Morton

The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-First Century edited by John Brockman

Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth From Interplanetary Peril by Timothy Ferris

Strange Matters: Undiscovered Ideas at the Frontiers of Space and Time by Tom Siegfried

What Does a Martian Look Like? The Science of Extraterrestrial Life by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart


The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything by K. C. Cole

Imagining Space: Achievements * Predictions * Possibilities 1950-2050 by Roger D. Launius and Howard McCurdy with foreword by Ray Bradbury

An Intimate Look at the Night Sky by Chet Raymo

The Magic Furnace: The Search for the Origin of Atoms by Marcus Chown

Mission Jupiter: The Spectacular Journey of the Galileo Spacecraft by Daniel Fischer

Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of Our Sun by Leon Golub & Jam M. Pasachoff

Sputnik: The Shock of the Century by Paul Dickson

The 23rd Cycle: Learning to Live with a Stormy Star by Sten Odenwald

The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

The Worlds of Galileo: The Inside Story of NASA's Mission to Jupiter by Michael Hanlon with Foreword by Arthur C. Clarke


Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz

The Infinite Journey: Eyewitness Accounts of NASA and the Age of Space by William E. Burrows with foreword by Walter Cronkite

The Neptune File: A Story of Astronomical Rivalries and the Pioneers of Planet Hunting by Tom Standage

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee

Stardust: Supernovae and Life -- The Cosmic Connection by John Gribbin with Mary Gribbin

Turn Right at Orion: Travels Through the Cosmos by Mitchell Begelman

Universal Foam: From Cappuccino to the Cosmos by Sidney Perkowitz

Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth by Laurence Bergreen


Captured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe by Joel Achenbach

Carl Sagan: A Life by Keay Davidson

Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos by William Poundstone

Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across Millennia by Gregory Benford

The Five Ages of the Universe: Inside the Physics of Eternity by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin

The Last Man on the Moon by Eugene Cernan with Don Davis


Comets: Creators and Destroyers by David H. Levy

Heavenly Knowledge: An Astrophysicist Seeks Wisdom in the Stars by Dr. Fiorella Terenzi

Managing Martians by Donna Shirley with Danelle Morton

Other Worlds: the Search for Life in the Universe by Michael D. Lemonick

The Search for Life on Other Planets by Bruce Jakosky

Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life Seth Shostak

This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age by William E. Burrows


Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan

Countdown: A History of Space Flight by T. A. Heppenheimer

The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang by Marcelo Gleiser

Goodbye, Descartes: The End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind by Keith Devlin

Mars: The Living Planet by Barry E. DiGregorio

Planet Quest: The Epic Discovery of Alien Solar Systems by Ken Croswell

Probable Tomorrows: How Science and Technology Will Transform our Lives in the Next Twenty Years by Marvin Cetron and Owen Davies

Space and the American Imagination by Howard E. McCurdy

Venus Revealed: A New Look Below the Clouds of Our Mysterious Twin Planet by David H. Grinspoon

The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report by Timothy Ferris