Synopses & Reviews
Charles Babbage was an English genius of legendary eccentricity. He invented the cowcatcher, the ophthalmoscope, and the "penny post." He was an expert lock picker, he wrote a ballet, he pursued a vendetta against London organ-grinders that made him the laughingstock of Europe. And all his life he was in desperate need of enormous sums of money to build his fabled reasoning machine, the Difference Engine, the first digital computer in history.
To publicize his Engine, Babbage sponsors a private astronomical expedition a party of four men and one remarkable woman who will set out from Washington City and travel by wagon train two thousand miles west, beyond the last known outposts of civilization. Their ostensible purpose is to observe a total eclipse of the sun predicted by Babbage's computer, and to photograph it with the newly invented camera of Louis Daguerre.
The actual purpose, however...
Suffice it to say that in Shooting the Sun nothing is what it seems, eclipses have minds of their own, and even the best computer cannot predict treachery, greed, and the fickle passions of the human heart.
"While Byrd tacks on a mystery and thriller subplot at the end to create a semblance of tension, the book is mostly an engaging travelogue along the old Santa Fe Trail, served up with plenty of authentic frontier detail..." Publishers Weekly
"Historical novelist Byrd...appl[ies] his formidable research skills to an inventive tale....Terrific adventures. Splendid details." Kirkus Reviews
"Byrd sometimes loses his perspective and slips into anachronistic historical minilectures, but this is still a fun read. Recommended." Library Journal
"[E]ntertaining and informative....[H]istorical and scientific details and anecdotes...are woven skillfully into the story." The New York Times Book Review
"Academics might wag a hoary finger at this history as pop corn, but Byrd has great fun with it, and so do we. Besides, all along this fictional adventure, he's left a trail of irresistible tidbits about the development of the territory, the technology, and the culture of the 19th century. And he makes perfectly clear that science has never been any more dispassionate or objective than the people carrying it out." Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor
(read the entire Christian Science Monitor review
From historic novelist Byrd comes an enthralling novel of fact and fiction as eccentric genius Charles Babbage and free-spirited astronomer Selena Cott set out to use the dawning technology of 1839 to record a total solar eclipse.
About the Author
Max Byrd is the author of the bestselling historical novels Jefferson, Jackson, and Grant. He makes his home in Davis, California.