It is 2019. NASA astronaut Nigel Walmsley is sent on a mission to intercept a rogue asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Ordered to destroy it, he instead discovers that it is actually the shell of a derelict space probe - a wreck with just enough power to emit a single electronic signal.
In 2034, a reply is heard. Searching for the source of this signal, which comes from outside the solar system, Nigel discovers the existence of a sentient ship. When the new vessel begins to communicate directly with him, the astronaut learns of the horrors that await humanity. For the ship was created by an alien race that has spent billions and billions of years searching for intelligent life… to annihilate it.
©1972, 1973, 1974, 1977 Abbenford Associates (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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"Very Different from "Hunger for the Infinite""
After listening to the novella by Gregory Benford, "Hunger for the Infinite," I was intrigued and ready for more of the same universe. This novel is very different. It is very slow moving and for much of the first half focuses strictly on main character Nigel and his "triad" relationship with Alexandria and Shirley. I was hoping for a little more science fiction, but patiently listened through Nigel's ups and downs with his lady loves. The lingering back story seems to be Nigel's struggle to over come politics within NASA and finally discover something real and true about the universe.
I was waiting for the "science fiction" part to dominate the "dramatic" part, and it doesn't really happen until the end of the first half. The creepy robots of Benford's novella have not shown up yet in Nigel's world, but he begins to get a sense of their presence. The entire novel is a build up to the idea that robotic life dominates the universe and that organic life is rare. My favorite character in the novel is actually the "snark", an automated craft that has been sent by these as of yet unseen robotic forces, to sniff out organic life. The snark does not know why it exists but only behaves as it has been programmed to behave. In its discussions with Nigel, there are some of the most interesting passages of the book. The snark drifts eternally through the "ocean of night" and finds its only fulfillment through learning about organic life forms.
I was disappointed that this novel was so different from "Hunger for the Infinite," but I enjoyed it anyway. Its slow and thoughtful, with no real gripping action or suspense, but contains some captivating musings about mankind and our relationship to the universe. I will continue with the series to see where it leads.
"A Grand Opening For An Epic Series"
I have to confess that I've read Benford before, and his writing efforts are consistently very good reading/listening. In this case, I accidentally read Great Sky River first a number of years ago, and it is a strong hard tech scifi read that sweeps you along to its great conclusion. That being said, I walked into this audiobook listen with high expectations, and wasn't disappointed! It reads different, because it takes place prior to the third book, and is in a completely different environment. So, it was a great experience, and my expectations were well met. Thanks, Benford, for a solid scifi series I already knew was great before I started the very first book.
I won't answer this question. I don't often give away parts of a good read. This is a great series, so I'll plead the fifth on this one.
He's a good narrator, but I'll want to hear his performance on the rest of the series, and then I'll update this review. It's only fair to give him his proper due.
An unending galactic war is about to begin, and it waits...for YOU.
Enjoyable. Well paced. Strong plot. Solid character development. Captivating story. Nuff said. Get the audiobook.
"Like some Space with your Soaps?"
Less hype in the publishers summary and more truth.
The premise sounds rather intriguing and is why I purchased this with my monthly credit however, the actual content feels more suited to day time soaps than it does to Science Fiction.
The main protagonist is somewhat interesting but the author spends so much time delving into the day to day life of Nigel that the main thrust of the story is lost in the minute of a menage à trois, instead of concentrating on the real story which is the intelligent ship that is approaching Earth.
After 4 hours of persevering through Nigel's domestic situation and having no emotional connection to him at all I gave up in frustration. I'm all for setting the scene and developing a world that the reader is going to inhabit for sometime (read Jack Vance Lyonesse I and then fell in love with Lyonesse II & III) but this just didn't do it for me. I prefer some soap with my sci-fi, not the other way around.
Mr Caulfield did a fantastic job with the characters and a wonderful job of flipping between Nigel's soft English tones and the harsher American of the other characters. Not much more he could have done.
I'm not sure it's case of excising character but rather concentrating on the main story and enhancing/developing that further and involving more people around that story rather than Nigel's. I just couldn't connect with him and we are meant to.
I'm sorry but if this is what is in store for the rest of the series then I will be staying far far away from anything by this author. Others may find him enjoyable but I certainly did not.
"Colossal waste of time"
Its reliance on some kind of odd religion. It was like being back in the 60's with people in white robes passing out tracts.
He is an excellent reader. He draws you into the story
All of them
Don't waste your money or time. I finally was unable to finish it and removed it.
"Good concept, but rather dull, well read."
It was much more of a philosophical treatise than a sci-fi story. Even the action scenes were kind of banal. If you like philosophy and societal analysis, it's not bad.
Either Empire by Larson, or The Twelve by Cronin.
A touch more emotion in the reading would help a bit, but overall, I think he did well with what he had to read.
Some of the sex, which added little to the theme, and much of the non-alien interactive scenes. We all know the frustrations of bureacracy in our lives, shorter mention of it would suffice.
Given the age of the book, he did a good job with astronomics and possible habitats. It was ironic that he raised the question of how NASA could take something as exciting as the space program and make it dull, when he did the same.
It gets into too much detail about the personal/sexual life of the protagonist, and too little about the aliens.
Maybe, but I'm doubtful.
"A Jewel in Benford's Crown"
Gregory Benford is one of sci-fi's famous "Killer Bees." These hard science fiction writers are my favorites. But it has been years since I had read Benford 's "Great Sky River" series of novels, and I had forgotten much of this first book. Listening to it, I found his writing style a little bit irritating! He often gets carried away and writes long, flowery descriptive phrases. It's like he's trying to fulfill a quota of words, rather than just tell a good story. People don't talk like he writes! At least none that I have ever known. But I like the plot and the characters! The story gets bogged down a little in places but overall is interesting and leaves the reader wanting more. I especially like the parts where Nigel explores the first alien ship and where he has to deal with the bureaucrats who are more afraid of an alien presence than they are fascinated and curious! I also like all the details about the "snark!" I'm looking forward to the next book in the series! This one has mystery, romance, conflicts, philosophical musings, and portents of doom. What's not to like?! Especially if you enjoy the writing style!
Oh, and kudos to the narrator for a fine job!
"2nd rate sci fi"
Make the story interesting, not a plodding story , make it interesting and unpredictable, with interesting convincing sex scenes.
Any book but one by Gregory Benford.
An uninteresting plodding story, ordinary and predictable, with boring unconvincing sex scenes.
"Slow start to a longer story arc"
Benford's In the Ocean of Night is the 1st installment of a 6 part series originally published in the 1970's. The significance is that the theme deals with alien contact and machine intelligence so the story has a primitive quality today that comes naturally from inherent limitations of its perspective of that time. The story centers around an astronaut who discovers an alien artifact believed to be an errant comet about to strike Earth. He next identifies another alien artifact as it enters our solar system a few years later and makes contact with the onboard AI. Finally, he is brought in to investigate what appears to be an alien artifact buried on the moon after an apparent thermonuclear device that may be another alien artifact on Earth detonates. Against this background, there is a religious movement with unclear motives that comes to dominate politics.
While quite popular in its day, probably due to its unique take on alien first contact, the tale suffers from underdeveloped characters. While the main character seems mostly adrift, supporting characters get extremely short shrift that makes their motivations and reactions quite uninterpretable. The fascination with BigFoot may have also been unique to the time period when the book was written which does not gel well today. By the end, it just wasn't clear what the author was trying to relate and the conclusion was far from satisfying. As an intro to a longer story arc, this is a disappointing appetizer.
The narration is good with a solid range of voices and good pacing with a tone suitable for the overall tenor of the tale.
"Publisher's description is misleading"
I have to agree with many of the other reviewers here: the premise of the story is very intriguing and the summary makes it sound like hard core scifi. In fact, it's a slow moving story about the personal life of the main character, with tedious, long passages about childhoods, parents, troubled relationships, illnesses, etc. etc. I kept hoping for SOME scifi beyond boring astronaut-to-mission control dialogue, but... nothing. Fought my way more than halfway through (I even skipped entire chapters several times), then gave up. Narrator is great. However, I have no interest in any other books by this author.
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