In the Ocean of Night (Galactic Center #1)
2019: NASA astronaut Nigel Walmsley is sent on a mission to intercept a rogue asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Ordered to destroy the comet, he discovers that it is actually the shell of a derelict space probe - a wreck with just enough power to emit a single electronic signal...
2034: A reply is heard. Searching for the source of this signal that comes from outs...more
In the Ocean of Night was first published in episodic format, before the pieces were cobbled together to form this first novel in the Galactic Centre series. It’s a good novel too. However, there is a problem with the pacing, undoubtedly because of its episodic origin. The novel consists of a number of separately defined timeline sequences, which makes sense given the plot progression. It is heavy stuff all round, but the problem lies with the second ...more
50% Intriguing science fiction
25% Inter-personal relationships that are at least mildly interesting
20% Lame social and religious blah blah
4% Random digressions into poetry (yeah, I don't quite get that)
1% Big-foot... No, seriously!
This initial book of the series is the weakest in the series, but it should not discourage you from continuing with the series which is quickly becoming my one of favorites. There are some that suggest you skip this first novel and jump right to volume 2. The completionist in me could never allow me to do that but looking back, I think it's a totally viable option. If you can suffer through it, you will see that Benford does begin setting the stage for a story of a much larger st ...more
This was a struggle. There is so much back story regarding Nigel Walmsley’s sexual ...more
Stephen Baxter, Greg Bear, David Brin, Ben Bova, they are probably others that I can’t recall at the mo ...more
This is basically a first contact story with a fair amount of soft sf content, including religious fanatics, sexual experimentation, and some attempts at prose poetry. None of this "experimental" material is so poorly carried off that it damages the work; in fact it would not be nearly as good without it.
Many reviewers have expressed dislike for the sexual content in the novel; I wou ...more
This is sort of a first contact novel, three times over, and in each instance Nigel Walmsley is on the forefront. The first part was too quick to think the book was over, but at the end of the second encounter I thought that's a good place for an ending. Then I see that this was originally published as three or four short stories/novellas. I didn't see any discontinuity, just a good stopping point. The third story picked up and built upon ...more
Years later as the New Sons religious organization spreads across the globe a new object arrives in the solar system: a robotic scout ship sent out by robotic societies fearful of biologicals. Because of his past encounter, Walmsley and his NASA te ...more
When I purchased this title I made a mistake: I didn't check the date of the first publication. I listened to the audio book, which was published in 2012. Into one third of the story I started to suspect that the original book is older than my daughter, and later my suspicion was confirmed by mention of microfilms used in 2034. I should have known better to check the reviews more thoroughly before buying it. In the Ocean of Night was born in 1972. Almost as old as me. I ...more
However, the aliens turn out to be quite different than he expected and subject to as much fear and petty mindedness as humans are.
In the Ocean of Night started out promising, but it's "fixup" novel structure quickly began to crack through the interesting facade. What starts as a mysterious and potentially threatening first contact scenario quickly turns into a political/neo-religious read strewn with the land mines of inconsistent and broken science. For example, the main character has cybernetic implants in his brain that can allow an alien AI take over his body, but he ...more
It has been awhile since I ventured into the territory of sci-fi. The wait was worth it, as I have inadvertently stumbled on a truly great, hard science fiction writer. As both a physicist and a poet, Benford combines his delivery of the conventions of sci-fi with the prose of lyricism.
“Perspective defies the innate order. The handiwork of man blinds even this awesome...more
The back cover summary sugg ...more
I thought that many of the ideas and themes were first rate, and the characterization and prose were fine. I had trouble suspending my disbelief in Nigel's personal ...more
But then, like in a A. E. van Vogt novel, the writer starts throwing at us with more and more sensational discoveries and fantastic endeavors: First contact is good and all but what if ...more
Warning, there may be a few spoilers below.
There is some really cool ideas in here, but they're completely overshadowed by Benford's need to overly develop his cardboard characters. For example, many pages are dedicated to the Nigel's (the main protagonist) relationship with two other women. His feelings, how he doesn't identify with one of them when the other isn't around etc. This is fine as far as it goes, but this type of drama ends up consuming 90% of ...more
From a characterization/story-telling perspective, Benford may as well have written this from the alien's perspective. The main character (Walmsley) was so distant/unempathetic (I was reminded of Mersault from "The Stranger") that multiple times I was hoping that his antagonis ...more
2034: Then a reply is heard. Searching for the source of this signal that comes from outside the Solar System, Nigel discovers the existence of a sentient ship. When the new vessel begins to communicate di ...more
As a science fiction author, Benford is best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare wit ...more