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Destination Void (The Pandora Sequence, #0.5)
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Destination Void (The Pandora Sequence 0.5)

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  2,833 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hybernating colonists en route to a new world at Tau Ceti, is stranded beyond the solar system when the ship's three Organic Mental Cores, disembodied human brains that control the vessel's functions, go insane. An emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: to create an artificial consciousness in the Earthli ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published July 15th 1984 by Berkley (first published 1966)
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Dec 14, 2013 Lyn rated it liked it

From the opening lines of desperate but intentional destruction and throughout the tight narrative, Frank Herbert has crafted in his 1966 novel Destination: Void a seamless thread of tension and psychological intrigue.

I cannot understand why this has never been made into a film, the design is readily adaptable to a script and the friction between the archetypal cast is evocative of Sartre’s No Exit. Existentialism is a central, though understated element of the novel. One character
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Aug 05, 2008 Kelly H. (Maybedog) rated it it was ok
Shelves: what-sf
It's strange that the sequel to this novel is my favorite book of all time and yet I only gave this one two stars. Part of the problem is that most of this book is really just a philosophical dialog about the nature of consciousness and an attempt to mathematically define it. There's a some unnecessary intrigue where every character knows some secret about the other characters that they themselves don't know. The point of view is changed many times on a page (which Herbert admits he did for clar ...more
Scott Rhee
Sep 24, 2012 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Frank Herbert's "Destination: Void" is thought-provoking science fiction at its best. The book reads more like a play written in prose form, as it takes place solely on board the bridge of a spaceship and it is almost 95% dialogue. But, oh wow, what dialogue! The premise: a small crew of six is manning a spaceship carrying a cargo of thousands of humans in suspended animation in the hopes of reaching an Earth-like planet in the Tau Ceti galaxy to colonize. The book opens en media res, after the ...more
J.M. Hushour
Apr 30, 2016 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those "Whafuck?" books that can best be approached by way of an awkward pop-culture analogy. Ready? Imagine "Reservoir Dogs" but instead of bank robbers they're clones and instead of hiding out from the police, the guys are trying to build God inside a spaceship careening towards disaster. That is, a one-room setting populated by actions in which nothing is ever what it seems and the dialogue has one both at a loss and grinning and shaking one's head in bemusement.
That's pretty mu
Feb 17, 2017 Marius rated it it was ok
A bunch of tech cwap end to end. While you can glimpse Herbert's talent for high quality dialog, it's all about exchanging tech theories between four clones, 3 dudes and 1 dudette, oh, and handling cables.
May 23, 2007 Jlawrence rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reads
This books manages, despite significant flaws, to engagingly mix a golden age of sci-fi "engineers solving a technical problem" kind of plot with wild philosophizing and thriller elements.

It rests on a somewhat wonky premise (I'm not spoiling anything btw - the following is all revealed early on). Apparently, in the future, the most effective and cost-efficient way to research artificial consciousness is to build a huge colonization ship and launch it towards Tau Ceti with its self-monitoring me
Aug 27, 2009 Erik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The philosophically and technically minded
"Is a man just a machine's way of making another machine?"

Destination: Void is the first of four books set in the eponymous universe of Herbert's making, also sometimes known as the Pandora series. The action in this book centers around an "umbilicus" crew of four and their ship, Earthling, that is carrying a massive cargo of hibernating colonists meant to colonize a planet in the distant Tau Ceti system. Before the ship even leaves our solar system, however, the ship's three Organic Mental Core
May 07, 2009 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before Frank Herbert's Dune and the money machine it became, he wrote some very interesting science fiction. Destination Void isn't his best writing but it sets up another book, The Jesus Incident which is much better.

Although I read and enjoyed The Jesus Incident long ago, I'm looking forward to reading it again now that I understand the environment better.

For those of you who liked the sudden POV switches of Dune, often paragraph by paragraph, you'll find yourself on familiar turf with Desti
Mar 01, 2010 Rob rated it liked it
... If you are more familiar with Herbert's work this can be an enjoyable book. Destination: Void is one of his most dense and technical books though and it will certainly not appeal to everyone. I think the sheer technical detail in some parts of the novel are a bit overdone and distract from the story. By today's standards it is a pretty short book but most of it consists of the crew members working through various technical problems and that is certainly not enough to keep everybody entertain ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Steve rated it did not like it
This is not a novel. It is a meditation on computers, AI, and Consciousness, as seen in 1978. Without all the speculation, it would have made a decent novella. But speculation is what it was all about with much discussion of early computers and whether or not they can be aware. It comes from the time, when computers were still considered dangerous (see HAL 9000 and many other rogue computer stories.), which is not a negative in itself. I don't fault it for being written before Apple and Microsof ...more
Dave Johnson
Jan 12, 2008 Dave Johnson rated it it was ok
dont read this book! on a whim, i bought this and the subsequent 3 sequels, thinking that they would be good since i heard good thing about these books on some online forum. nope. truthfully, i dont know how good the sequels are. they were co-written with another author, so maybe he told frank that his ideas in destination: void were awful. i think this was herberts attempt at a hard scifi that focuses more on the science than the characters. it just seemed like reading a theoretical science boo ...more
SpringLea Henry
Jan 24, 2014 SpringLea Henry rated it really liked it
This book loses one star only for the characters who became walking dialogue for much of the book, but oh such dialogue!!! I started this book because my brain had been sluggish from fatigue, illness, and grief. I wanted something to sort of rehab my head and get me back to full editing strength. This book really jump-started the old noggin! I wish they still wrote more sci-fi like this, only maybe with better characters. I will totally be checking out the rest of the series. But for now, back t ...more
Jun 02, 2011 aimee rated it it was amazing
One of Herbert's more obscure works, my verdict could only be 'fantastic'. Absolutely fantastic - so much so, in fact, that I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in AI/AGI.

Of course, having been written in the late 60s/early 70s, the tech being talked of is somewhat dated, and some of the concepts went over my head somewhat (I am not a computer engineer) - however, the philosophy exploring our concepts of consciousness were extremely interesting and insightful.

Read it, and
Tobin Elliott
Jul 09, 2015 Tobin Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf
I last read this book in my teens. I question how I got through it now, as much of it was likely well over my pathetically thick head back then, and the rest reads like a text book.'s Frank Herbert, the author I once read described (very appropriately) as, "I think, therefore I write." In other words, he doesn't necessarily filter for his audience. That's both a curse and a blessing when it comes to reading him.

And in this case, when the bulk of the book is a discussion on what it mean
Tanya Rivera
Oct 08, 2014 Tanya Rivera rated it it was amazing
I can't help but feel this book is the beginning of the whole history of Dune and the Machine Wars. I know it's not but this book is outstanding. It asks just a simple question. Rather philosophical for sci-fi. Herbert always had a habit of researching every idea he had in order to make it as true as possible.
Benjamin Duffy
Aug 30, 2009 Benjamin Duffy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This book crushed my skull and made my brain meats ooze out of my nose hole. The plot hinges, ostensibly, on a project to create artificial consciousness, but what it really becomes is a discussion and deconstruction of what IS consciousness. Really enjoyable and thought provoking, both as a science fiction adventure and as a novel of ideas.
Jan 09, 2008 Bob(by) rated it it was ok
If you like to read about/listen to computer nerds talk about artificial intelligence and system hardware then this book is for you.
Aug 03, 2012 Jason rated it liked it
I've been a fan of Frank Herbert for years, though I've only started to read his non-Dune novels in the past few years. I liked "The Lazarus Effect", but only recently learned that "Destination: Void" is the first in that series, and not "The Jesus Incident". I needed a very particular kind of novel recently, so I thought "Destination: Void" was the thing to read.

At some point in the future, the "United Moon Base" sends out massive colony ships, each loaded with thousands of cloned people
Sylvain Roy
Mar 05, 2017 Sylvain Roy rated it liked it
An iteration on multiple important word of the the human language: life, consciousness & faith.
Well done, but tedious at time. I'm not sure if the book would have been readable if it wasn't for the talent of the author.
Mark Baller
Nov 06, 2016 Mark Baller rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Stephen Kelley
Jan 23, 2017 Stephen Kelley rated it really liked it
wonderful mjsings about AI and consciousness
Ethan Smith
Jan 16, 2017 Ethan Smith rated it it was ok
as much as i enjoy the philosophical archetype of humans acting as god, this book was just 90% theoretical science and i'm just too dumb for that. i did stick with it for the story and characters tho.
Ash Watkins
Aug 12, 2016 Ash Watkins rated it liked it
A nice book by Herbert, but which fails to strike the right balance (as Dune does) between his usual dips into surrealist use of philosophy/math/science and an engaging plot.

The book reads like continental philosophy that uses a lot of technical lingo - much of it won't make sense if you don't know the lingo (obviously), but the more frustrating moments are when you do know the lingo and it still doesn't make sense. The ideas in the book lack clarity and there are many non-sequiturs, both in th
Mike Smith
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Feb 28, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I read the 1978 revised edition, where most of these details are apparent from early on (first 3-4 chapters), though they might be considered spoilers for the earlier work. (I'm not sure how much was changed.)

A batch of disposable clones are sent off on a spaceship to colonize a planet near Tau Ceti, with a cargo of supplies and thousands of colonists in hibernation. After leaving Earth's galaxy, the ship's Onboard Mental Cores---organic computers, wired-up human brains---fail, one by one, the l
Sep 16, 2015 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This novel is difficult to like and impossible to love. The plot is straightforward and actually has a lot of potential. A ship with an active crew of four, along with three thousand colonists in hibernation is faced with the challenge of building an artificial intelligence to ensure the success of their mission. The complications to this plot are what add the really interesting elements: The crew and colonists are all clones, the ship's system failures and poor design may have been intentional, ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Eero rated it liked it
I had to force myself to read this through. The book is almost entirely dialog between its four characters with hardly any action, and the dialog itself is littered with technobabble, amid which there is some interesting meditation on consciousness and even religion, much of which I would have rather read in essay form. I was reminded of those philosophers who dress up their ideas in nearly impenetrable verbiage, perhaps to make them sound more profound than they are.

I remember reading (or tryin
Apr 19, 2015 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: gave-up-on

(NOTE: I was too interminably bored to mentally track trigger warnings)

This is not the smooth, traditionally-structured kings-and-knights fantasy-in-space of Dune, with themes of class, power, and colonialism. Oh no, not this! This is a weak, clunky adventure story layered in mock-science fiction. The closest he gets to science is gravity references and solar storms. Astronomy is not my thing, so I can't parse the derails on the latter? But the former? Not science. His ideas on the effec
Derek Verlee
Oct 09, 2011 Derek Verlee rated it really liked it
Herbert's imagination is staggering as always. The idea is a very good one, an almost flow of consciousness discussion of the undefinable nature consciousness, but set within a plot happening aboard a spaceship, an arc-ship, filled with thousands of suspended, sleeping, travelers. Space is an enormous void. They are traveling at near relativistic speeds, threatened seemingly by It is the sinking ship story, more along the lines of the distressed submarine story, but space is so much more quiet, ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great Herbert book, I come away satisfied. IN this book, Herbert shows off his knowledge of 60s-era computer programming/systems engineering and physiology of the human brain, and religion. As a computer programmer, i particularly enjoyed this novel because its largely around technical problems. Specifically it deals with teh technical problems of building a computer system that mimics human functions. At some points it seems to degrade into a "technobabble" type blather, but it doesnt s ...more
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Frank Herbert was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author.

He is best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, dealt with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power, and is widely considered to be among the classi
More about Frank Herbert...

Other Books in the Series

The Pandora Sequence (3 books)
  • The Jesus Incident (The Pandora Sequence, #1)
  • The Lazarus Effect (The Pandora Sequence, #2)
  • The Ascension Factor (The Pandora Sequence, #3)

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“The universe does not work by our rules” 16 likes
“The implied methods would permit construction of entirely new computers reduced in size and basic complexity by a factor of at least a thousand.” 1 likes
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