Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Artifact” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,063 ratings  ·  53 reviews
ArtifactA small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb.

An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age,its purpose, and its origins are unknown.

Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft andespionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war.

Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains do
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1998 by Harper Voyager (first published 1985)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Artifact, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,063 ratings  ·  53 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Apr 10, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on my blog, SpecFic Junkie.

If you can handle misogynistic, xenophobic, americancentric novels with shallow plots, poor characterization, and severe genre identity issues as long as the science is good, you will love this book! The sad part? How often you have to put up with all of that, just for a little hard scifi.

A tall, unattractive (but striking) woman whose thighs make a "scchk" noise when she walks in jumpers and wears garters rather than pantyhose is constantly sexually
Roddy Williams
'In a 3500-year-old Mycenaean Tomb, an artifact has been unearthed. An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, purpose and origins unknown.
Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth.
It is an enigma with no equal in recorded history and its discovery has unleashed a storm of intrigue, theft and espionage that is pushing nations to the brink of war.
It is mankind's greatest discovery… and worst nightmare.
It may already have oblit
Mar 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I have read and enjoyed almost every scifi epic Greg Benford has written. I search for his books everywhere, hoping a new one comes along soon. This one was painful. My recommendation: read Part I, then jump to Part IV. You missed: “Thing found in Greece makes it way to MIT” There I saved you 150 pages of agonizing wooden dialogue and travelogue. The rest of the book isn’t bad. Had an interesting ending, sort of.
Paul Darcy
by Gregory Benford, published in 1985.

‘Artifact’ is essentially a physics idea brought to life by author Gregory Benford. Now, I must admit, I find Benford’s works a bit dry but this one I actually liked quite a bit.

The ‘Artifact’ is found in Greece by our very strong female protagonist Claire and conflict erupts like a volcano almost from the first page. A joint dig is taking place between the US and Greece, but the leader of the Greeks is a detestable, but crafty womanizing, boor.

You just know
Tracy Walters
A science fiction novel that started out with a very intriguing prelude and ended up having WAY TOO MUCH scientific calculations and information for the average reader to even understand and care about....the characters were interesting enough and the story would have been much more fun to read if it had omitted at least 250 pages of scientific jargon that was repeated over and over without giving the average reader a clue of what it really meant. Pretty dull book with some moments of intrigue, ...more
Emmett P
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange but technically stunning and compelling to the end. Found it in a used book store and bought it because I liked the cover. I wouldn't search out the author again but the book was great.
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You really need a physics degree to follow this one, and I don't have that degree. Fortunately, I do have advanced math and some engineering physics under my metaphorical belt, otherwise I would've been completely lost when reading this book. As it was I was only lost about half of the time.

All the elements of a good story are here, a mystery, interesting characters and conflict, but the author just doesn't seem to know how to pull it all together successfully. For every step the plot or charact
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stereotypical characters who ogle the female protagonist throughout the entire book and the plot was a little too heavy on the archaeology side and had very little to do with the singularity and actual science. I made it through the entire thing because it was mildly interesting and I love Benford, but this was mediocre at best. If you're deciding between two books to read and this is one of them, go with the other.
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y2013
I skimmed the reviews complaining, in essence, "Too much science!", and after reading it I have to assume that those were written by people who don't read much hard science fiction.

As usual with Bova's work, the story is founded on some pretty esoteric science, but I never felt overwhelmed or burdened by it. He gave enough to understand it, and didn't ever go overboard with it.

If you like hard science fiction, enjoy.
Steve Walker
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Russell Forden
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scifi novelists researching realistic science details
I really loved Benford's books Timescape and Cosm, but this is not one of his better ones. It's more thriller adventure than scifi, and boy does it need some editing! Large chunks of the first half, wherein our main characters Claire and John lug the titled object back to MIT Boston from Greece, could easily be excised without harm. The story and characterisations really border on being racist, American imperialist and sexist too. It's like Benford decided he'd have a go at writing a shitty airp ...more
Don DeBon
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While this is hard science fiction that might turn off some, if you like a good artifact story the you don't want to pass it up. The book might drag to those not interested in science in a few places, but one can skip that to "get back to the action" if you want without losing too much of the story itself (personally I found it fascinating). There is a lot of mystery and action in addition to the hard science I mentioned earlier making it a worthwhile read to more that those interested in hard s ...more
Philip Snyder
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sci-fi novel with actual science

This work was a pleasure to read. A sci-fi novel with real, plausible science, what a concept! It has an after
word that gives more depth of the science involved. Oh yeah, believable characters, great plot, it is a well constructed story. If you have not done so, buy it, read it, you'll be glad you did.
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat Cummings
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caught up in the action and thrills of an Indiana Jones adventure, we sometimes forget that Jones is a thief. In fact, he is the worst kind of thief the archaeological community knows. He steals unique antiquities, sneaking them away from their sites; and then sells them to collectors, destroying forever the intellectual value they might have had in situ.

Gregory Benford's Artifact starts centuries ago, with a mysterious stone artifact being buried in a tomb. But each time we think we have this
Kaus Wei
Book 4 in my re-reading odyssey.

The thing that struck me most about this book was not the plot, nor the characters, nor the speculative science that was presented, but rather the backstory that was presented during the first third. Benson describes an economically failing Greece, whose population blames their problems on manipulation by banks that are supported by the US. Sound familiar?

For a moment, I forgot this book was written in the mid 80s, and could have sworn it was a 'Ripped from the He
Steven Klotz
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mostly academic politics (and some actual politics), slowly unraveling the mystery of an object with strange physical properties. Some action and romance is tossed in for good measure. Very dry and I'm not sure there's anyone I would actually recommend it to.

Glowing endorsement, right? Well, it was a VERY relaxing read for me and I enjoyed the science. Considering how idea dense I normally take my fiction, this single idea - extrapolated from a handful of "maybes" grounded in current (as of mid
Jason Merchant
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun book about an intense young academic archaeologist who stumbles onto an amazing find. Great portrayal of academic battles, etc., and the challenges faced by women in the sciences (guess how hard it would be to get tenure if you got kicked out of the country where your site is). Amazingly accurate background on the archaeology of Mycenae, including Linear A and B (and a shout-out to Alice Krober, who figured out the key part of the puzzle of the syllabary Linear B: I loved it that she got nam ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book more, but the "literary" parts seemed really contrived. Too much time spent on cliche romance and wooden character back story. Overall it was a solid book. Worth reading

Interesting detours into science and archaeology. Too many lectures... I'm pretty sure most of the characters were supposed to be late 20s (maybe early 30s... how old is a postdoc?), but their internal monologues sure sounded like old men.

Also, I call bullshit on the "southern" accent. I've spent
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
My usual positives and negatives for all Gregory Benford's books:

Pros: Brilliant story. The concept was extremely well thought out and made for a very exciting read.

Cons: Terrible characters. The lead male was inevitably a womaniser. The "strong" lead woman spent far too much time fawning over the main man and discussing her femininity. The worst is that during certain difficult situations, she specifically thought "what would a man do" when trying to get out of them.

I read a lot of old scifi
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The artifact itself was interesting. It was the plot that was dull. Characters were a bit on the dry side, too. I did like all the science, though. But I found a glaring scientific error. There's a scene where an ancient map is found. It's a couple of feet high and a couple of feet across. It turns out to be made of ivory. When I read this, all I could think was that I would really love to see the elephant that provided such a humongous tusk. It must have been quite an animal.

Aside from that, I
Jul 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kind of book that would put women off science. Claire, the protagonist, is an assistant professor, but not a single time is she referred to as Dr - it got me confused about her position for half the book as all we get is that she's a young, pretty researcher. Claire, a Smurfette (lone woman in an all-male story) until the reader meets her mother, is constantly sexually harassed, objectified, visually judged. By everyone, especially by the person she somehow ends up forming a relationship wit ...more
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans, Benford fans
Recommended to Mark by: Professor Susan Lea, SFSU!!
This is an action-packed 'hard' sci-fi adventure set, roughly, in the
present day. It is the type of sci-fi novel that could probably only be written by a professional physicist (like Benford), and seems to be in the spirit of some of his other 'realistic' novels which follow the lives of scientists (e.g., Timescape, Cosm, Eater, etc.) and their work.
It manages to mix together the intricacies of particle physics / black hole physics with ancient greek history, mythology, and archeology, internati
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gregory Benford is known as a hard-science SF writer, and this book is no exception; it focuses on an ancient artifact involving quantum physics(i wont say more about that); however, even if i love physics, this was not what i liked most in the books, but the archaeology domain, concerning the tedious work of those involved, here represented by the digging up the remains of ancient Greek cultures. Since i only know some Greek mythology and history, it came to me as a pleasant surprise to discove ...more
Clayton Yuen
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
This is the first novel by Gregory Benford and it was a pretty good techno-physic book. The introduction of singularities and quarks and black holes was very interesting in an archaeological setting .... go figure!

The author is excellent in his use of $50 words, and quite flowery in his description of the differing situations. I had to look up a few words i must admit!

This is a good read for the detailed-sort of novel, and I look forward to reading other books by Benford. I gave it 4 stars becau
The first 2/3 of this book were quite interesting. Reads like an intellectual Indiana Jones. Some archeology, some action and eventually some romance. Then at about page 400 (of 521 pages) it suddenly turns into some kind of brain dead American CIA/Military actioner. Lot's of fighting, shooting, helicopter crashes etc. Yanks vs Greeks or something, not sure, as at this point I could care less. Wish the author had thought of a more subtle way to conclude his story. Oh well .... them's the breaks ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a good read, with the usual plot. Archeologist, a woman, finds a strange artifact in Greece. She's thrown out of the country. Man who helps her get artifact out with her becomes co-hero, falls in love, etc. International intrigue sets in. In the end, man and woman live happily ever after.

The science is pretty good, but gets a little "out there" toward the end.

A good read at the beach.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Physics geeks
A rather uninteresting and sometimes cheesy science-fiction thriller, most notable for its links to archaeology and its commitment to hard science. The whole story is ultimately based on an exercise in imaginative particle physics, and while the postulated physical properties are odd the author is careful to avoid explaining everything with handwavium or other magic.
Apr 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have a guilty pleasure for cheesy action/science fiction novels, but this The characters were wooden, the plot unbelievably formulaic, and the climax so laughable as to border on parody. There was little to this book that you couldn't find in better form somewhere else in the science fiction section.
Paul Doyle
I like this one more than I thought I would. It starts off as a typical archaeological thriller. Greek ruins, mysterious object, etc. Then the particle physics kicks in.
I like that in both the archaeology and the physics, the characters don't know the answers. They simply follow the clues and then have to figure out the science from the clues.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Tangents
  • Privateers (The Grand Tour, #2; Privateers, #1)
  • Roderick
  • The Ghost From The Grand Banks
  • Dark Matter
  • Shiva in Steel (Berserker, #11)
  • Dr. Adder
  • The Robert Sheckley Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories
  • Year's Best SF 14
  • Orbital Resonance (Century Next Door, #1)
  • Dark as Day (Cold as Ice, #3)
See similar books…
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
“Riemann conjecture,” 0 likes
“amateur gynecology.” 0 likes
More quotes…