Cosmic Dawn (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
As the Polish astronomer and theorist Nicholas Copernicus is given credit for having demonstrated that man’s home planet, Earth, does not have “center stage” in the solar system, so too should such latter day theorists as Eric Chaisson, author of Cosmic Dawn: The Origins of Matter and Life, be given credit for having taken the Copernican vision of man’s place in the universe one step further. Chaisson and other contemporary thinkers believe that the Earth not only is a vassal of the sun but also is little more than an obscure planet in a mediocre galaxy (the Milky Way) in an out-of-the-way nook at the outer fringes of the universe. Earth, in Chaisson’s view, would be absolutely banal to the point of insignificance if it were not home to one of the glories of the universe; namely, life.
By reading Chaisson, one is allowed to participate in the greatest events of all time, including the chaotic burst of energy that set the universe in motion. One sees stars born, then watches their solar engines glow, falter, and, after eons too mind-boggling to comprehend, die, their densities becoming so incredibly crushing that, upon occasion and for no reason yet known, black holes are created—the great “vacuum cleaners” of space, capable of drawing in galaxies and extinguishing their winking stars. It is an alien world of enormous distances, horrible explosions, massive clouds of matter, raging fires, colliding celestial bodies.
(The entire section is 1958 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Best Sellers. XLI, July, 1981, p. 153.
Booklist. LXXVII, March 15, 1981, p. 1002.
Kirkus Reviews. XLIX, March 15, 1981, p. 402.
Library Journal. CVI, March 15, 1981, p. 670.
Nature. CCXCIV, December 3, 1981, p. 491.
Publishers Weekly. CCXIX, March 20, 1981, p. 48.
(The entire section is 28 words.)