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Extended Audio Sample Percivals Planet: A Novel Audiobook, by Michael Byers Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.48 out of 53.48 out of 53.48 out of 53.48 out of 53.48 out of 5 3.48 (33 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Byers Narrator: William Dufris Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2010 ISBN: 9781400188413
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A novel of ambition and obsession centered on the race to discover Pluto in 1930, pitting an untrained Kansas farm boy against the greatest minds of Harvard at the run-down Lowell Observatory in Arizona. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 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 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 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 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heidi | 1/18/2014

    " Eh, it was okay and the story was interesting enough to carry to the end. But it was odd in its execution and I probably won't read any more of this author's books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol Sweet | 1/9/2014

    " So far I love this novel. His language is fresh and snappy, his characters well drawn. Sometimes I get lost in his dialog. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Josh | 1/8/2014

    " Decent novel. Fascinating depiction of mental illiness in one character. Otherwise It was fair. Would rather read a non-fiction account of Pluto's discovery. This clouds the history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 1/7/2014

    " Maybe a 3.75; fascinating story and characters, plus I learned a bit about astronomy! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 1/4/2014

    " Really enjoyed this fictional account of the discovery of Pluto. Richly-drawn characters in pursuit of chimerical goals, burdened by their eccentricities and society's judgement of them, all come together in the Arizona desert. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neb | 12/30/2013

    " Haven't finished yet, but so far I'm enjoying it very much. It took awhile to hook me, but the dreamy scene descriptions and realistic yet engrossing internal monologues really grew on me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kit | 11/21/2013

    " A little confusing as to who is who but in the end it was (is...based on a true story) tale. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian Short | 10/8/2013

    " Also read the British edition of MB's long story/novella, "The Broken Man." Both brilliant. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 11/18/2012

    " 3.5 stars. Loved some of the characters and found some others not as intriguing. Alan Barber's storyline totally steals the show for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracey Wilde | 10/15/2012

    " Not quite what I was expecting but I enjoyed it and learnt a lot. Some odd characters in it though ! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie Ferris | 9/6/2012

    " A fabulous book. Unbelievable creativity and smarts, and great dialogue in the bargain. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 8/25/2012

    " A pretty light weight, average, uninspiring narrative for the bourgeoisie faux intellectuals....not a waste of time...a nice, light, unperceptive read. Good summer fare ... for the beach or summer house ... but no weight...no gravitas. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle Corley | 7/23/2012

    " Brilliantly written. What a genius cast of characters! I enjoyed the individual stories and eventually learning how their lives wove together. Dinosaur fossils, mental illness, planetary science, astronomy, the list goes on. I loved it "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 12/27/2011

    " I finished the book. There are lots of images that I think will stick with me. But I wouldn't recommend the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darin Stewart | 12/26/2011

    " This is a wonderful little portrait of pre-depression America. The search for Planet X (Pluto) is very much secondary to the stories of each character who present a well drawn cross-section of classes from the late 20's. A bit slow in parts but overall very well crafted. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stuart | 10/11/2011

    " Slow getting into it, and I might have arranged things slightly differently, but an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marion | 8/19/2011

    " Ok Really enjoyed this book. Especially since I have visited Lowell observatory, Flagstaff, Sedona, and Grand canyon. Well written descriptions of desert. Good characters with story weaving the lives together. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pat Fahrenthold | 5/17/2011

    " Novel inspired by the story of the discovery of Pluto. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 5/4/2011

    " So far I love this novel. His language is fresh and snappy, his characters well drawn. Sometimes I get lost in his dialog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 3/12/2011

    " It was okay, though the author seemed to take a lot of liberties with the real story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 3/8/2011

    " Also read the British edition of MB's long story/novella, "The Broken Man." Both brilliant. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracey | 2/10/2011

    " Not quite what I was expecting but I enjoyed it and learnt a lot. Some odd characters in it though ! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heidi | 12/27/2010

    " Eh, it was okay and the story was interesting enough to carry to the end. But it was odd in its execution and I probably won't read any more of this author's books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krista | 9/20/2010

    " Maybe a 3.75; fascinating story and characters, plus I learned a bit about astronomy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 9/17/2010

    " It's that rare book that manages to probe with equal skill pursuits of the mind and matters of the heart. In Byers's hands, the search for understanding what lies in the universe eloquently mirrors a more basic desire to understand what makes us human. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 9/7/2010

    " Good read! Character-driven, the story of finding Planet X (Pluto) is interesting, but you want to know what happens to the people. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 9/5/2010

    " A pretty light weight, average, uninspiring narrative for the bourgeoisie faux intellectuals....not a waste of time...a nice, light, unperceptive read. Good summer fare ... for the beach or summer house ... but no weight...no gravitas. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Josh | 9/1/2010

    " Decent novel. Fascinating depiction of mental illiness in one character. Otherwise It was fair. Would rather read a non-fiction account of Pluto's discovery. This clouds the history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darin | 8/11/2010

    " This is a wonderful little portrait of pre-depression America. The search for Planet X (Pluto) is very much secondary to the stories of each character who present a well drawn cross-section of classes from the late 20's. A bit slow in parts but overall very well crafted. "

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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.

About the Narrator

William Dufris attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland-Gorham before pursuing a career in voice work in London and then the United States. He has won more than twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, was voted one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century by AudioFile magazine, and won the prestigious Audie Award in 2012 for best nonfiction narration. He lives with his family in Maine.