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Extended Audio Sample Percival’s Planet: A Novel, by Michael Byers Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (141 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Byers Narrator: William Dufris Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In 1928 the boy who will discover Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, is on the family farm, grinding a lens for his own telescope under the immense Kansas sky. In Flagstaff, Arizona, the staff of Lowell Observatory is about to resume the late Percival Lowell’s interrupted search for Planet X. Meanwhile, the immensely rich heir to a chemical fortune has decided to go west to hunt for dinosaurs, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the most beautiful girl in America is going slowly insane while her ex-heavyweight champion boyfriend stands by helplessly, desperate to do anything to keep her.

Inspired by the true story of Tombaugh and set in the last gin-soaked months of the flapper era, Percival’s Planet tells the story of the intertwining lives of half a dozen dreamers, schemers, and madmen. Following Tombaugh’s unlikely path from son of a farmer to discoverer of a planet, the novel touches on insanity, mathematics, music, astrophysics, boxing, dinosaur hunting, shipwrecks—and what happens when the greatest romance of your life is also the source of your life’s greatest sorrow.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Erin | 2/19/2014

    " fascinating historical fiction. i passed this one on to my husband which doesn't happen often. i did think it was longer than it needed to be with a lot of side stories that didn't necessarily add to the core story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Rebking | 2/12/2014

    " I was disappointed. I was hoping for more astronomy and discussion of what happened after the discovery. It wasn't a bad book, but it was not what I was expecting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Bookmarks Magazine | 2/7/2014

    " Percival's Planet calculates the moral dimensions of scientific investigation, noted the Washington Post. It is this "breadth of Byers's field of vision [that] is a saving grace." If Byers's technical descriptions and research slowed down a few critics, they agreed that his wide scope--he tells many stories, with his characters exhibiting all-too-human motives and emotions--is his greatest success. A few felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of subplots, and the Washington Post thought that Byers's contemplative prose dulled an otherwise exciting tale. However, Byers' tale should be universally appealing--"just an endearing story of underdogs, both the ragtag crew of astronomers and the tiny celestial body they're hoping to find" (Entertainment Weekly). This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Blair | 2/2/2014

    " Historical fiction is quite possibly my most favorite genres. This novel tells the story of some of the people responsible for the finding of Pluto. "

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About the Author

Michael Byers is the author of the story collection The Coast of Good Intentions, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the acclaimed novel Long for This World, winner of the First Novel Award from Virginia Commonwealth University. Both were New York Times Notable Books. A former Stegner Fellow and Whiting Award winner, Byers teaches at the University of Michigan.