Cosmic Chronicles: A user’s guide to the Universe

Reviewed By  Ashley Mason       December 8, 2019


Author  Fred Watson

Distributor:      New South Books
ISBN:                 9781742236421
Publisher:         NewSouth
Release Date:   October 2019  


Readers who are familiar with the likes of Douglas Adam or H.P Lovecraft will have some idea of how truly small we humans are. Well, Fred Watson, asks you to please disregard your previous ideas, so he can explain to you truly, how small and insignificant we actually are.

Or rather, how incomprehensibly huge the universe is.

Watson, current astronomer and former pioneer, is more than qualified to talk to us on the subject of the universe, though he never relies on the reader having a scientific background and incorporates explanations, where necessary, well throughout the pages. Cosmic Chronicles never crosses the threshold where leisure reading turns into a lecture session and remains as it claims; a user’s guide.

And guidance is a good word to use for this book, as the writing style is that of a friendly and charismatic tour guide who takes you through space at light speed, making various pit-stops to point out one or another notable feature. Though the universe may be incomprehensibly big and empty, you certainly don’t feel alone while reading this book.

Astrology, geology and biology might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Watson seems to understand this, and it feels like the material has been through a few ‘enjoyment’ filters. As the majority of the content inspires ‘wow that’s cool’ moments instead of making your eyes glass over. Topics range from everyday ideas like meteors, stars and nightfall, while the more obscure sections go over interstellar property and space bugs (yes, space-bugs).

Fred Watson has an asteroid named after him, but he explicitly claims no responsibility if it ever hits the earth. Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone outer-space minded, and any age from young adult upwards. The chapters make it easy to learn and become familiar with a new idea in one sitting. Be prepared to look up and see the sky in a whole new way.