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The Planets

Narrated by: Samuel West
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
5 out of 5 stars (463 ratings)

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Summary

Jupiter: The Ruthless One. Mars: The Doomed One. Sun: The Fiery One. Saturn: The Beautiful One. Pluto: The Mysterious One.

We’re living through an extraordinary time of exploration. A fleet of space probes are continually beaming data from their sensors back to Earth. Hidden in this stream of code are startling new discoveries about the worlds we share with the Sun. We will piece together these remarkable and often surprising findings to tell the greatest science story of them all - the life and times of the Solar System. 

What emerges is a dramatic tale chronicling the adventures of eight planetary siblings. Born from violence, they grow up together, in time becoming living and breathing worlds, only to fade away one by one as they age. Along the way each world takes on its own unique character which we will come to know as we cross the vastness of space and time to visit them. We’ll place our cameras on the surfaces of these worlds at moments of heightened drama. We’ll give listeners a glimpse of the most memorable moments in the evolution of our star system. 

Along the way we will meet all eight of the major planets, plus a supporting cast of moons, asteroids and comets, and a mysterious as yet unseen world way out beyond the Kuiper belt....

©2019 Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

Praise for Prof Brian Cox: "Cox’s romantic, lyrical approach to astrophysics all adds up to an experience that feels less like homework and more like having a story told to you. A really good story, too." (The Guardian)

"He bridges the gap between our childish sense of wonder and a rather more professional grasp of the scale of things." (The Independent)

"If you didn’t utter a wow watching the TV, you will while reading the book." (The Times)

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Worthwhile Update

It’s now 20 years since the BBC broadcast the original series of The Planets, a lot has changed since then; a wealth of new discoveries due to ongoing exploration. It’s now the perfect time for an update on the information provided by the original TV series and accompanying book. I bought this audiobook on the morning it was released and listened to all 8 hours in one session. Reassuringly the audiobook is narrated by Samuel West, who provided the narration to the original 1999 TV series which I’ve always been a huge fan of, so there’s a nice continuity to that. This book covers everything we already knew about our solar system 20 years ago, even briefly reiterating some of the same facts; however, so much has happened in the past 20 years, that the bulk of the text prioritises those new discoveries. All of the most important facts are here and Brian Cox being co-author, there’s more than a shadow of tongue-in-cheek grumbling about priorities and general laziness among current world leaders and their attitudes toward science and Earth environment issues among other things; and rightly so. I’ve been closely following astrophysics and space discovery all of my adult life as well as educating myself about the history of scientific discovery. It’s astonishing just how much we’ve learned in the past two decades alone, this book collects all of this together interspersing it with the relevant historical background. I enjoyed this book so much and by the time I’d finished it, I still felt I wanted more, so ordered the hardback too, as I feel the text alone can’t possibly do the book justice.

9 people found this helpful

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Good Stuff but is an Audiobook The Best Format?

I enjoyed this, I did know that I was no expert on our solar system and as it turned out I really didn't know very much at all! It's a genuinely fascinating subject, I had no idea quite how complex or indeed dynamic the solar system really is. Cohen, and it really is much more him than Cox I think, tells some great stories about the fate of Venus for example and the marauding force that Jupiter once was beating in and out of the inner Solar system! Some of this is quite inspiring and I'm off to try and find the TV series on catch up somewhere.

And there's the rub really. I suspect apart from a level of detail, which at some stages verged on being quite technical, the TV series with its visuals is going to be far more effective. Also, if you are in two minds about whether audio or print is the right format take a look at the Amazon page for the book as that looks impressive with great colour visuals which may help to bring this alive more than the audio. This looks like a case where if ever an audiobook could do with some supplemental material this really is it.

Samuel West does a good job of narrating, and the stories of some of these planets are really quite remarkable. The complex sequence of events and factors that created our Earth are, to me at least, absolutely mind-blowing. Talk about being lucky, us humans just don't know that we're born! And I have to say I loved Cohen's suggestion for dealing with anyone still in denial over climate change, maybe a little extreme but it made me smile!

So, this is good stuff, if like I was, you really don't have much insight into how our solar system was formed so I am happy to recommend it on that basis. Even if you know a little there is a goodly amount of up to date science included so there's likely something in this for most people.

It is worth a think though whether the TV series or the print book or indeed both would make for a better investment in time and money than the audio.

15 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

It really excite and fascinate me with solar system life. It contains great knowledge explained very simply.

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Absolutely brilliant!

A fascinating book. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to indulge myself in such rich information about our amazing universe. It’s beautifully spoken too. A book that I want to listen to again!

1 person found this helpful

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Awesomely Educational and Interesting

A brilliant book with so much information about our planets. I thought I knew quite a lot already but I've learned so much more. I would definitely recommend

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Fantastic - a tribute to all the people who have dedicated themselves to discovering our solar system

Might have preferred the lovely Brian to narrate and it was slightly repetitive in parts, particularly on the principles behind the Greenhouse effect. I wonder if this was because of the way it was co authored?

But I love the TV show and I love the book. I particularly like the mission details and I am in awe of the people behind them. Our solar system is clearly an amazing place and so too is the ingenuity of the people behind it’s continued discovery and long may it continue.

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating!

This was such an interesting book! The narration was excellent, and the content was really thought provoking. Ive bought the hardback so that I can enjoy the visuals. 10/10

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A most enjoyable listen.

Remarkably enjoyable, I have listened twice already. The sort of thing that I wished would continue. A very impressive piece of work on a fascinating subject.

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Great, easy reading/listening, informative!

listened to our over a few days and learnt soooo much. fantastic history of the formation of our solar system and insight into each planet and Pluto. this is a great listen for young and old. children will love it!

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interested in astronomy you must get this book

a fantastic book, the narration is brilliant so much information you must have this book

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  • Chris
  • 14-01-20

baroque and flowery verbiage

The style of this book is much more flowery and grandiose than I expect from a science book. It also came across as preachy at times. I found the affected verbiage off-putting; others may enjoy the authors' effort to share their love for planetary science, along with their vision for settling Mars.

The meat of each chapter typically had good information that was educational and enjoyable.

The narrator was good, though he seemed to reflect the flowery verbiage.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-09-19

A Stellar (or at least Astronomical) Piece of Work

The level of care on display here in both the writing, where large concepts are broken down into simple ones for the sake of laypeople, and in the narration, where the narrator does an exquisite job of bringing the work to life in such a way as to make it practically breathe with calm, and calming precision, is truly remarkable... I highly recommend this book for any fans of space science, Dr. Brian Cox, or who are generally interested in learning about the wonders beyond our own blue marble

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 27-12-19

more up to date than most

well organized and paced. unlike others which cite "upcoming' missions that are in fact well underway or over, this title includes recent information. It is well presented and suitable for audio (others I have felt were print edition titles that didn't really work without tables and illustrations). Excellent value for money. I have listened 3 times within a month of buying.

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  • J. Ritt
  • 28-08-19

<br />A glorious description of the planets for adults!

Professor Cox' knowledge of science is rivaled only by his ability to share that knowledge in a clear, concise, and interesting manner. His enthusiasm for, and love of, the topic shines through the entire book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-01-20

Loved every minute!

Exploring our solar system from the rocky inner worlds to the gas giants and then the ice planets and beyond was like an adventure listening to this book. The way the book unfolded was logical and interesting and the narration was perfect, clear and well spoken. Who knew that the discoverer of Pluto would end up being onboard the craft that was destined to explore the icy planet that is no longer a full planet in our solar system?
So many discoveries, every chapter had me riveted. Totally loved it!

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  • Bookwormish
  • 29-03-20

From a Lifetime Astronomy Fan

I loved this audiobook. It was a fascinating story full of amazing facts and theories about the planets our solar system. I highly recommend it!

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  • Mark D. Schnittman
  • 12-03-20

Great book

I read this not knowing what to expect. Very informative and very interesting. We know much more about our solar system than I realized. Highly recommended.

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  • Alejandro Lamothe
  • 24-01-20

Let your self travel around the Solar System

This is one of the best travels I have made 20 part of the universe.
One reading is not enough, the work they authors put in this wonderful book gives you the chance, the opportunity to enhance your reading or listening every time you go back and listen again.
Don’t miss the opportunity of traveling with this authors around the solar system.

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  • Dipam
  • 05-01-20

Like most good stories, it left me wanting more

This is a very good overview of each of the planets within our solar system, their histories as far as can be determined at this point in time, their composition and movements, and of the solar system as a whole. Each of these unique worlds deserves an audiobook of its own, but until such books are on the menu, The Planets is a great appetizer.

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  • VB
  • 24-12-19

Beautiful book!

Even though there are no pictures in front of you, the writing and narration takes you to all the planets. I wanted this book to go on and on...