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Life on Other Planets

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781408715277

Price: £22

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As a child, Aomawa Shields was always bumping into things, her neck craned up at the sky, dreaming of becoming an astronaut. A year into an astrophysics PhD program, plagued by self-doubt and discouraged by a white male professor who suggested that she – a young Black woman who also loved fashion, makeup, and the arts – didn’t belong, she left astronomy and pursued acting professionally for a decade, before a day job working for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope drew her back to the stars. She was the oldest and the only Black student in her PhD cohort. This time, no professor, and no voice in her own head, would stop her.

Now an astronomer and astrobiologist at the top of her field, Dr Shields studies the universe outside our solar system, researching and uncovering the planets circling distant stars with just the right conditions that could support life. But it’s been a road as winding and complex as the physics she has mastered.

Life on Other Planets is a journey of discovery on this world and on others, a story of creating a life that makes space for joy, love and wonder while being driven by one of our biggest questions: is anybody else out there? It is about the possibility of living between multiple worlds and not choosing – but instead charting a new path entirely.

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This book is so good, so gorgeously written, covering with integrity so much: being smart, scared, taking your power, humour, family, being different and the same, science, stars, sky, being a woman, being black; it is a triumph and a pleasure. It compels the reader to learn more about the planets, and how to stretch our unlimited capacity to live fully in this universe.
Natalie Goldberg, author of Three Simple Lines and Writing Down the Bones
This riveting memoir is relatable and personable
BBC Sky at Night
Shields took my breath away with her candour on these pages. An inspiring account of the struggles of a hero who is both scientist and artist.
Ann Druyan, writer, director, and producer of COSMOS
Life On Other Planets is a beautiful meditation on space, identity and belonging . . . As one of the few black women in her field, Shields' story is one of resilience - battling detractors and imposter syndrome to become a prominent astronomer. Her writing style is lyrical and readable, and while Shields might not be a household name in the UK, her story is well worth knowing
Author Aomawa Shields bring[s] a lot of science into her tale, but it comes with a lot of gentle wide-eyed wonder and explanations that are easy for an average reader to grasp. There's beauty in what Shields sees, and she shares her excitement in a way that will make you see the sky with fresh eyes
Houston Style Magazine
A riveting memoir of crossroads, choices, and triumph. I could not put this book down. Shields is an astronomer whose writing miraculously feels like the night sky itself - vast, elegant, luminous.
Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead