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The Planets
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About the Author

Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science writer for The New York Times. The author of the bestselling Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, and The Glass Universe, Sobel's work has also appeared in Audubon, Discover, Life, and The New Yorker.

Reviews

Once again, best-selling author Sobel (Galileo's Daughter) brings science to readers across the spectrum. Her writing is vivid and poetic as she looks at each planet, including the sun and moon, from various scientific and cultural perspectives. The chapter on Earth, for example, begins with the story of Ptolemy's attempts at mapmaking in the year 150 C.E.; the chapter on Saturn opens with a discussion of 20th-century composer Gustav Holst and his orchestral suite the The Planets. In each chapter, Sobel deftly weaves together astrology, music, art, popular culture, history, biography, poetry, and science fiction with current knowledge about our solar system. The resulting fabric offers something for all readers, even those who think they might not be interested in science and space. Highly recommended for public libraries of all sizes and smaller academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/05.]-Denise Dayton, Jaffrey Grade Sch., NH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-The author's lifelong fascination with our solar system is evident in these essays that blend the latest scientific knowledge with popular culture, mythology, astrology, literature, music, and more. Beginning with the Big Bang and the Sun in Genesis, Sobel presents the nine planets in turn, inviting readers to share her sense of wonder. Each selection begins with a different point of view. In "Sci-Fi," an ancient meteorite talks of the formation and physical nature of Mars; it is followed by an imaginative discussion of the colonization of the planet, including the views of science-fiction writers. "Night Air" begins with a letter from Caroline Herschel, daughter of Uranus discoverer William Herschel, and also his assistant to the American astronomer Maria Mitchell. Readers will probably assume that this is a real letter; not until the "Details" section at the end of the book is it revealed that it is fiction, although factually accurate. The writing is clear and elegant, almost lyrical at times, and the research is thorough. This unique and attractive book will be of interest to both science students and general readers.-Sandy Freund, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Sobel's purpose in this lovely and personal volume is to show us the planets as she sees them. Writing in quite a different mode than in her best-selling Longitude and Galileo's Daughter, Sobel offers intimate essays inspired by the planets in our solar system, which she describes as "an assortment of magic beans or precious gems in a little private cabinet of wonderAportable, evocative, and swirled in beauty." She frames each essay in a different light, using a particular planet as a stepping stone toward a discussion of larger issues. Her "Jupiter" essay becomes a meditation on astrology, while her essay on the Sun, which relates the actual birth of the universe seemingly ex nihilo, evokes the Genesis account of creation in both its themes and the cadence of its language. Put simply, Sobel's conceits work (even, remarkably, the essay on Mars written from the perspective of a Martian rock) because each beautifully frames its planet. An essay that begins with the story of Sobel's grandmother coming to the United States as an immigrant, for example, sets up the author's musings on the odd nature of Pluto as somewhere in between "planet" and "other." This resonant and eclectic collection,informative, entertaining and poeticAis a joy to read. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (On sale Oct. 11) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Playful . . . lyrical . . . a guided tour so imaginative that we forget we're being educated as we're being entertained." --Newsweek

"[Sobel] has outdone her extraordinary talent for keeping readers enthralled. . . . Longitude and Galileo's Daughter were exciting enough, but The Planets has a charm of its own . . . . A splendid and enticing book." --San Francisco Chronicle

"A sublime journey. [Sobel's] writing . . . is as bright as the sun and its thinking as star-studded as the cosmos." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"An incantatory serenade to the Solar System. Grade A-" --Entertainment Weekly

"Like Sobel's [Longitude and Galileo's Daughter] . . . [The Planets] combines masterful storytelling with clear, engaging explanations of the essential scientific facts." --Physics World

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