Beyond: Visions of Interplanetary Probes by Michael Benson (Harry N. Abrams, 320 pages, $55). This is the kind of book that makes reviewers indulge in hyperbole. A stunning visual feast, Beyond is the labor of love of author Michael Benson who amassed, and digitally processed, images taken by NASA’s unmanned space probes throughout the solar system. Here, presented as works of art, the images’ strange beauty is utterly captivating, giving us views of other worlds, as real as our own but little thought of by the people who paid for the probes’ missions. From the surface of Jupiter’s moons, to the vast, rust-shaded plains of Mars and the delicate, eerie rings of Saturn, the effect of being “up close” to these far-off celestial bodies is both exhilarating and humbling. The book’s second part is a collection of essays that tell the stories of the probes that are behind the spectacular photographs.
— Charlotte’s Creative Loafing (Charlotte, N.C.), copyright © 2003 Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inc.