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Noumenon

Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins
3 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)
Non-member price: $26.05
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Publisher's Summary

With nods to Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, the real science of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves and a touch of Hugh Howey's Wool, this is a powerful tale of space travel, adventure, discovery and humanity.

In 2088 humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth's solar system, and astrophysicist Reggie Straifer knows where we should go. He's discovered a distant anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics. It could be a weird natural phenomenon, or it could be alien.

Convoy 7's mission to discern the nature of the star's strange qualities will use vast resources and take centuries, so in order to maintain the genetic talent of the first crew, clones will be used for the expedition. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses.

As the centuries pass, their society changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie's mysterious star and explore its origins - and implications.

A mosaic of discovery, Noumenon successfully examines aspects of the human condition with a touch that is both thrilling and poignant.

©2017 Little Lost Stories (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Matt Dovey
  • 16-08-2017

Reminscent of the best of Foundation

The heart of Noumenon, the reason it works and the most evocative thing about it, is its structure. This is true of both the convoy and the book.

The titular Noumenon is a convoy of nine ships sent to a distant star to analyse anomalous signals. Even with the sub-dimensional FTL travel, it will be a generational mission, over centuries. In order to give the mission the best chance of success, potential crewmembers are analysed and selected, not just for launch, but forever: they will be continually cloned, replaced by themselves, maintaining the balance and make-up of the crew. This single decision has ramifications for the society and the mission down the generations

Like Asimov's early Foundation books (and Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, though the sections here are longer than that book), Noumenon the book presents a series of events of the evolving society, each chapter skipping ahead in time to new characters (albeit familiar from cloning) and showing us how earlier decisions, earlier actions have played out. The solution to a problem in one chapter becomes the cause of the problem in the next, and at each step the characters must solve the problem as best they can for the here and now, with whatever knowledge and limited foresight they have.

Threaded throughout and tying everything together is the convoy's AI, ICC, the only truly consistent crewmember and the one charged with maintaining society and ensuring the success of the mission.

Like Foundation, Noumenon creates such a plausible sequence of events that you stop seeing it as a work of fiction and begin to believe it as a detailed future history. You're pulled along not by seeing what happens to an individual character, but by seeing the ramifications of earlier stories. It's as powerful a work of hard social science fiction as Foundation ever was, and that's the highest recommendation I can give it.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 23-03-2018

Very little sci-fi for a si-fi book

Started with a good idea , lost it in the middle and stretched the end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-2018

sociology not science fiction

An interesting look at a society's evolution but missed many opportunities for good science fiction

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David Cordner
  • 07-09-2018

great multi generational space story

I really liked this story, some very goodnand new ideas (to me anyway)
looking forward to next installment

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark Patterson
  • 18-04-2019

space opera

if you love millennia spanning space operas, you can't miss this, feels like losing a friend when it's over

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  • Gerard the dog
  • 22-03-2019

Avoid unless you're being paid to write a review

For as far as I could put up with listening to it, this book is naive and pointless. The storyline is disjointed. The story itself seems utterly pointless with pedestrian dialogue based on flawed progression of the story, truly awful characterisation, and hopeless, if any, comprehension of science. On top of which, as an audiobook, the narration was terrible too. But that may not be the narrators' faults given what they had to work with.

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  • Honkin' Baldhead
  • 19-01-2019

Aspiring to be dull

This is an extraordinarily dull book. So dull that I could not manage to maintain focus on the turgid and stereotyped politics on the ship. Despite a promising first hour or two it descends into a predictable story of on board politics.
Performances are pedestrian, storylines do not surprise or excite.
I would write more but this book has left me with barely the will to return it and swop it for something, indeed anything, else!

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  • Savvas Kleanthous
  • 29-11-2018

A story about being human

I was pleasantly suprised by this book.

The book covers a huge amount of tine. From the discovery of a sun that pulses, to creating the spacecraf to go there and the subsequent journey there and back again. A story that covers multiple generations living in vast spacecrafts in a strictly controlled environment and battling with who they are meant to be and with choices made for them before they existed.

I would say that the description accurately covers the subject, but it's each individuals stories contrasted to the story of the collective that make this book shine.

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  • S. westerman
  • 21-11-2018

Character driven

It's not about the science fiction it's about the journey and the characters.
They were engaging to listen to. Very engaging story and analysis of humankind. I have downloaded the 2nd book already.

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  • Darrell
  • 07-11-2018

Great story, not too long not too short.

I love that each chapter was essentially a mini story within the main plot. Lots of great concepts through out the book.