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The Planets

Narrated by: Samuel West
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
5 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Publisher's 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)

What members say

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Msrs is no joke

Mars is unbelievable. All the planets are amazing but Mars has some shit that Earth cant Fock with.

1 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Majicat
  • 05-25-19

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 05-24-19

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.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Giorgio Guglielmino
  • 06-07-19

Fascinating

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Marryat's Child
  • 06-04-19

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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  • A S U Zaman
  • 06-01-19

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Russell
  • 06-09-19

The Planets - Brilliant

I couldn't wait for the TV series to finish and wasn't disappointed. I will now enjoy watching even more. Thank you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Occam's shaver
  • 06-23-19

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.

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  • RG
  • 06-17-19

Possibly better with full focus & eyes shut.

I've been looking forward to this book for months. Unfortunately, I feel a little underwhelmed. As my title says, it probably needs full concentration. I used it alongside static bike training to provide some stimulation, and I just haven't felt that absorbed with it. It's presented well, don't get me wrong, and perhaps me reviewing it isn't entirely fair given the limitations I've imposed on it. I've seen a couple of the BBC episodes, and unfortunately for audiobooks, film works really well for this, it's better. The BBC have dumbed down in many areas lately, but they can still produce fantastic natural history programmes - which utilising Prof Cox's engaging, inspiring delivery works better than a narrated script.

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  • D. Robertson
  • 06-15-19

Where was the sense of wonder?

I’m a little disappointed with this audio book. It seems to dwell lugubriously on death. Of planets, of space probes and of humanity. As it accompanies a TV series it may be the sense of wonder is lost with the images. If you know nothing of the solar system it may provide a basic primer but as an audiobook it doesn’t inspire.

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  • John Mayhew
  • 06-15-19

Get a perspective.

Brilliant and beautiful. Buy the book for the script and marvellous photographs and graphics. Then do what you can to look after your planet.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-16-19

A fantastic review of the solar system

Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen give a phonemally punctual, well - directed look into the Planets of your solar system. A must read for anyone looking to learn more about the Planets.