Category: Children’s Books
Reviewed by: Casey Suire
Title: Star Sailor: The Overview Effect Chronicles
Authors: Annahita Nezami and Frank White
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Pages: 92
Publisher: Multiverse Publishing LLC
Date: October 2022
Retail price: $28.50/$19.99/$9.99
ISBN: 979-8986653822
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To some admirers, astronauts are like real-life superheroes. While superheroes fly through the air, astronauts float around inside their spacecraft. Superheroes wear capes, and astronauts wear spacesuits. Both groups are idolized by many and do incredible things that no ordinary person can accomplish. Despite these similarities, astronauts are modest and will deny such extraordinary claims that they are anything special. After all, it is simply their job. In the future, anyone will be able to live and work in space. Flying in space will become more commonplace and less heroic.

According to Annahita Nezami, astronauts actually do have a superpower: the overview effect.  Her co-author, space philosopher Frank White, introduced this term in his famous 1987 book. During an airplane flight, he came up with the idea while staring out a window and imagining he was living in an O’Neill cylinder. Over the years, The Overview Effect has become a classic in space literature and is now in its fourth edition (See NSS review). Spaceflight often causes profound changes in how astronauts feel about Earth and life. Seeing Earth’s thin atmosphere against the blackness of space made several of them realize that life on Earth is very precious.

For many, the overview effect is a truly life-changing experience. Some astronauts returned to Earth more religious and spiritual. Actor William Shatner famously gave an emotional speech following his brief Blue Origin flight. White interviewed dozens of astronauts for The Overview Effect. Reading their thoughts is quite fascinating. Thanks to virtual reality, non-astronauts can now experience the overview effect as well. Annahita Nezami is co-founder of Earthscape VR, which simulates the overview effect without participants ever having to leave Earth.

With Star Sailor, Nezami and White introduce the overview effect to a new generation of young readers. The book’s main character is a young English girl named Eve. After her parents send her to stay with an unpleasant aunt, Eve explores her interest in space. She builds a homemade spacesuit and transforms herself into a superhero alter ego named Star Sailor. Children will learn a lot about the solar system and Milky Way galaxy by reading about Star Sailor’s exploits. Interestingly, Pluto, which was infamously demoted as a planet, is not mentioned.

Star Sailor is a very attractive little book. There are several colorful illustrations of Eve and photos of several celestial objects. Perhaps since this is a children’s book, adults are sometimes the subject of humor. For example, any person over thirty years old is referred to as an “oldie.” Eve’s Aunt Fanny has some really bad, albeit harmless and funny, habits.

If you’re an “oldie” who was obsessed with space as a kid, you will find that Eve is a very relatable character. Like Eve, you probably built your own spacesuit. You loved building and launching model rockets in your spare time. You would devour books about astronomy. You owned a telescope and enjoyed viewing the Moon, planets, and stars. Eve’s story will make you say to yourself, “Hey, I did that as a kid!”

Despite Eve’s love of space, Star Sailor is really a book about Earth. The overview effect reveals just how special it is to live on our little Blue Marble. Of all the planets in the solar system, NASA actually focuses the most attention on Earth. When astronauts are on the ground, they think about space. When they actually get to space, they marvel at the Earth. No matter what faraway destinations humanity will explore and settle in the future, there really is no place like home.

Star Sailor was released by Multiverse Publishing. The company has published several space-themed books, predominantly written by White. It is part of Multiverse Media, an organization that shares a lot of the same ideas as NSS. Projects of Multiverse Media include an outstanding documentary on Gerard K. O’Neill and an audio version of Ad Astra magazine. Nezami and White’s book is the first volume of the Overview Effect Chronicles. It will be exciting to see how the overview effect is handled in subsequent volumes. Future Star Sailors will want to know more.

© 2024 Casey Suire

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