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In the Ocean of Night (Galactic Center, #1)
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In the Ocean of Night (Galactic Center #1)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  2,457 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
A classic novel of man's future and fate, written by the eminent American physicist and award-winning author of "Timescape."
ebook, 452 pages
Published July 31st 2007 by Aspect (first published January 1st 1977)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dirk Grobbelaar
Benford works with a fascinating concept here.

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
Started off strong with asteroids and mysterious aliens, but then, near the end... Big-foot. I'm not even kidding. Big-foot.

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!
Aug 07, 2012 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like mung beans
A third way through the book I had to put it down, this rarely happens to me. I tried very hard to read it, if you put the $’s down to buy you want read it. I must preface this review with the fact I’m an emotional void in true life and books … getting involved in relationships real and written should be avoided at all costs. I also spent a number of years in the Army, thus hippies, holding hands and singing in circles with happy clappers, existentialist god and mung bean books leave me cold. (I ...more
Vincent Stoessel
Don't stop here!
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
I must admit. First, if I can’t for the life of me, get into a book, I put it away. I will not finish the story because, for whatever the reason, I just could not get into it. This book was difficult for me to get into and I would have followed my rule, only this time I was reading the book as a buddy read. My middle son picked it for us to read together. He was reading the book in ebook format and I in paperback.
This was a struggle. There is so much back story regarding Nigel Walmsley’s sexual
Jan 30, 2015 Rusty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bow before the master. Goodreads author Andrew Leon has been politely asking me to give Gregory Benford a chance for almost a year now. When he first asked me to, I had assumed that I already had. Back in the 90’s when I first started reading science fiction in earnest I found that the sci fi portion of my local bookstore was pretty well stocked with authors whose last name started with ‘B.’

Stephen Baxter, Greg Bear, David Brin, Ben Bova, they are probably others that I can’t recall at the mo
Jan 02, 2014 Fred rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A nicely written sf novel, showing a heavy and positive influence from the new wave works of the late sixties.
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
Jess Cattanach
My favourite thing about this book has got to be Nigel Walmsley. He's probably one of my favourite characters in fiction, ever. He's such a fun main character: very passionate but at the same time extremely cynical, which makes for a lot of amusing scenes. The storyline of this book is a very interesting one and I enjoyed the other characters too: Mr Ichino and Nikka are fun, and I was surprised at the emotional depth that was involved with Alexandria's storyline. I didn't really expect emotions ...more
John Loyd
Apr 08, 2015 John Loyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Ocean of night (1977) 333 pages by Gregory Benford.

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
David Erickson
Sep 24, 2014 David Erickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel opens with Astronaut Nigel Walmsley landing on a comet headed for a collision with Earth is a huge derelict spaceship. His decision to delay detonating a device to divert the ship’s course as he investigates does not sit well with the public.
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
Jun 12, 2014 Nathaniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
So, some random thoughts. First, I really need to steer clear of hard sf written in the 1970s and 1980s because the rampant sexism really bugs me. I've written about this before, when it comes to Ringworld (1970) by Larry Niven or Sundiver (1980) by David Brin. I realize that terms like "white privilege" can be really politically loaded, but for me it's not about politics. It's just about the annoyance of men who write male protagonists who treat women as nothing but sexual objects. It's fundame ...more
Julius Butcher
Sep 02, 2014 Julius Butcher rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, boring
Attention: spoilers ahead!

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
Benjamin Kahn
An interesting book, very engaging at times, but with a very weak ending. Very unsatisfying. The book itself, although not dated, feels very much like the era it was written in - the early '70s. There are some references that do date the book - a reference to Gary Cooper, several people arguing over what album a Beatles song was on - that Benford should have known when he was writing it wouldn't work as time went on. You can't set some in the 2000s and expect Gary Cooper or the intricacies of th ...more
Mar 18, 2009 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
A series of episodes dealing with man's first contact and one man's struggle against those elements of humanity who would sooner destroy or supress aliens than welcome or attempt to learn from them.

However, the aliens turn out to be quite different than he expected and subject to as much fear and petty mindedness as humans are.
Frank Taranto
The first in a series, have to reread this to see if the series is worth getting into.
I read this way back when and I remember enjoying it so I decided to reread the series again. I'm not sure it held up to the passage of time very well. It wasn't bad and until the ending I would have given it three stars but the ending was just strange and hard to follow. Perhaps that was because I was never able to quite give reading this the attention it deserved but the combination didn't quite work. Blame it on me, blame it on the book. Probably the reality is somewhere in between.

Still, I'l
Kathleen Molyneaux
Borrowed the e-book from the library. The blurb said it was a first contact story and the author was an astrophysicist. Nice combination. Unfortunately, I started feeling uneasy on pg. 52 when the protagonist's girl friend emerges from the shower "...her expressive bottom jiggling beneath a sheen of moisture." That prompted me to look at some reviews. Seems that the book is saddled with a fair bit of 1970s style wish-fullfillment sex. I'm not sure the story is good enough to support one "jigglin ...more
Craig Robertson
Dec 21, 2013 Craig Robertson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was hungry for some good scifi so I researched up this one. I was unfamiliar with the author, but he seemed to have amassed some following, so I figured that meant something. I like to start with the earliest volume in a sequence to get the full experience. This is not always wise, as many early works are too flawed to engender interest in moving ahead. Such was the case here. The plot skipped around, the action was highly unlikely, and the characters were uninviting. Examples? An astronaut di ...more
Michael Anderson
Volume 1 of Benford's Galactic Center series sets the stage for an adversarial tale of mechanicals versus organics that spans 35,000 years, and, through the magic of physics, has the same protagonist throughout. It is an old concept told well. The six volumes appeared over nearly 20 years, and I originally read each one as it came out in paperback. As a result, my memories of the story are a little disjointed, but I am glad I am now able to read the books straight through. At least, the story is ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Neal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Full review:

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
Nov 09, 2014 McKenzie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 4-75
“A splendid, brilliant, overwhelming book. I wish I had written it. Best s-f novel I have read in years.” --- Robert Silverberg

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
Abhinav Neelam
Poor. I don't know if it's just me or are - on average - 'hard' fantasy novels better than hard science fiction novels? I've been trying and trying to find *good*, unpretentious hard SF authors who don't try to bend over backwards to put in unnecessary drama into the story to accommodate critics, and I haven't moved beyond Stephen Baxter yet. Baxter too, while spectacular in his vision, had no idea how to do humour, so most of his books were filled with brooding prose.

The back cover summary sugg
R. Michael Duttera
A little slow but ok. I have the whole series and there are hints the scope of this will become more space operatic so I'm hoping the later volumes improve. Seems the author has a thing about 3-somes in romantic relationships now that I'm starting the next book in the series. Personally this affectation detracts as it causes me to lose respect for the protagonist but that's a side issue. I'm also not sure I care for the stream of consciousness style Benford seems to go into from time to time as ...more
Rob Bradford
A good, but flawed book. It reads as though it was written as a bunch of shorter pieces and then published as a book (which, I believe, is in fact the case). And, although that can work, it didn't really for me, at least here. They're just too uneven, and reading them in quick succession makes the inconsistencies stand out too much.

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
Dan Burcea
One would think first alien contact would be juicy enough of a subject for a hard sci-fi work written by an actual astronomer and physicist. And first half of the book is just great writing, sober and realistic approach, full of details, populated by real characters with their ambitions, flaws and personal lives.

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
Apr 18, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover sums it up nicely: blue balls.

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
Nov 24, 2013 Jeannie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, fantasy, 2013
I've mixed feelings about this book. The story is involved and interesting and some of it is totally original. However, some of the characters are confusing - sophisticated one minute and spouting odd slang that sounds as if it's coming from a discussion at a rural tavern the next. (I'm thinking of the "shake hands with the wife's best friend" comment. What? Even in the 80s did men say stuff like that to coworkers?) The relationships in the book are the same. Some seem fresh and current and some ...more
Nov 08, 2012 Bob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
From a science fiction perspective, this was a somewhat interesting novel though dated. I now understand why Alastair Reynolds pointed to Benford's books as influential, as he seems to have run with some of the same themes.

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
Roddy Williams
‘2019: NASA astronaut Nigel Walmsley is sent on a mission to intercept a rogue asteroid on a collision course with earth. order to destroy the comet, 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…

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
Ce livre raconte les premiers contacts entre une civilisation humaine du début du XXIème siècle (entre 2010 et 2020) avec des entités extraterrestres. Plus exactement, on découvre la vie d’un astronaute anglais, qui va vivre tous les contacts avec les étrangers et se retrouver propulsé de fait sous les projecteurs comme une sorte de héros. Une sorte seulement car dès le premier pas vers les étrangers, de nombreuses vies humaines seront perdues (majoritairement parce que le vaisseau extra-terrest ...more
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Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.

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 about Gregory Benford...

Other Books in the Series

Galactic Center (6 books)
  • Across the Sea of Suns (Galactic Center, #2)
  • Great Sky River (Galactic Center, #3)
  • Tides of Light (Galactic Center, #4)
  • Furious Gulf (Galactic Center, #5)
  • Sailing Bright Eternity (Galactic Center, #6)

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