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Communion of Dreams

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The year is 2052, and the human race is still struggling to recover from a massive pandemic flu some 40 years previously. When an independent prospector on Saturn’s moon Titan discovers an alien artifact, assumptions that we are alone in the universe are called into question. Knowing that news of such a discovery could prompt chaos on Earth, a small team is sent to investigate and hopefully manage the situation. What they find is that there's more to human history, and human abilities, than any of them ever imagined. And that they will need all those insights, and all those abilities, to face the greatest threat yet to human survival.

348 pages, Kindle Edition

Published January 17, 2012

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James Downey

2 books6 followers

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5 stars
39 (24%)
4 stars
49 (30%)
3 stars
46 (28%)
2 stars
16 (10%)
1 star
9 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Matt Shaw.
220 reviews1 follower
June 10, 2020
It's rare to find an SF novel that takes on human consciousness and cognition, rarer to find one that nods to both philosophy and biology/evolution, and rarest to find one that can remain engaging and accessible throughout. If Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey leans into the cerebral, then Lem's Solaris and Watts' Blindsight charge headlong into the abstruse; Downey has crafted a motion-filled tale at the human level. CoD serves up puzzle after puzzle, sprinkles hints for the reader to follow, and uses a few ingenious touches to make it work: the "experts" as interfaces are both good plot devices and rich character potential. Nice.

I'm left with some questions, though.
[Possible Spoilers ahead.]
As another reviewer asked, what became of Palmira? Are P-class experts too limited to be important? And what actually DID kill the crew of the Hawking? Do they retrieve it? Is everyone in NSSA white? Is Downey putting the approximate 30,000 year time stamp on the suppression field to coincide with what Richard Klein and others call the "Big Bang" of human cultural/cognitive development? I'd have happily read a longer book for a bit more.

No matter; this book is worth a recommendation or two. I see JTD has recently published a prequel about Sidwell's youth and I look forward to reading it soon as well.
2 reviews1 follower
March 24, 2012
In a post-crisis Earth, a discovery on another planet leads to the formation of a diverse team of people from various specialties to explore it. Membership includes scientists and geniuses of various stripes, an artist, soldiers, and a child prodigy, of diverse genders, ethnic backgrounds, and temperaments.

Communion of Dreams engaged my attention all along, with enough variation in the themes discussed, shifting of emphasis and suspicion among the various characters, and a rapidly developing conclusion, with events pushing the main characters faster toward their next steps than they were perhaps ready for them. The writing is intelligent, and it was clear to me that the intelligence behind the writing is pretty well grounded.

Contact with the discovery triggers dream episodes that raise questions about the origins of life, other aspects of life, and the possibility of other forms of life. The author does very well at handling these possibilities, without offering answers which would be inherently more limiting than the possibilities themselves. That may be one of the novel's greatest strengths.
80 reviews
February 24, 2015
Slow-moving sci-fi novel has fresh plot

An alien artifact is discovered on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. It takes about 30% of the book for our hero to put together his team to go and investigate. That all could and should have been condensed into one chapter. A seemingly endless number of characters are introduced and then quickly discarded. It's confusing to try and track all of that.

After the investigation begins on Titan, things begin to move along a little more quickly.

I've been reading thrillers by Lee Child, and the pace of those books is so much faster than this, that is perhaps why I was impatient with the plodding rate at which this plot evolved. The book did hold my interest all the way to the end . But it would benefit from a rewrite where much of the action was tightened up and many of the extraneous characters eliminated.
Profile Image for Diane.
114 reviews3 followers
June 11, 2012
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book, full of intriguing ideas, appealing characters (some of whom really are characters) and a well-crafted plot. That it is also a debut novel surprised me, and I hopefully look forward to more. James Downey can write!
10 reviews
October 11, 2012
Interesting sci-fi that isn't a shallow all action space opera. Good characters, interesting plot. I've never read 2012 A Space Odyssey, but from what I've heard and from having seen the moving, I agree with those who have compared it to that work.
251 reviews2 followers
December 14, 2014
Totally awesome good read. Something for most everyone. Sci- fi. Human nature. Generational relations. Mystery. Conspiracy theory. Comment on spirituality. Alien existence. Xenophobia.
Profile Image for Jesse.
214 reviews
September 3, 2016
There is a lot to like in this book. I picked it up because I was intrigued by the synopsis: in the year 2052, explorers find an artifact on the surface of Titan that appears to have been manufactured, and not by human hands.

I'm always a sucker for space exploration, because I have a burning curiosity about what's really out there. Reading fiction about possibilities, no matter how farfetched, is the next best thing. And in addition to that, Communion of Dreams has the makings of a great adventure story: a very intriguing setting, a decent cast of characters, and plenty of secrets and surprises. It also poses an interesting possible response to the Fermi paradox (if there is life out there somewhere else in the galaxy/universe, why haven't we had any evidence of them?)

One of the things I love most are the settings. The time among the ship, as it heads from Earth to Titan, getting to know the characters bit by bit. There is a large and varied cast, each different and interesting. I'm all for a large cast of characters, especially when they're off on an adventure, as I like to see how they each play off of each other. However it seemed like a few member's of Jon's team who were introduced in the beginning sort of faded into the background by the middle of the book and were virtually nonexistent by the end. The story focused on the most interesting of the characters, though, so it all worked out well.

The protagonist, Jon, was likeable enough, but to me he was actually one of the least fleshed-out characters. Yes, we were given some insight into his history and we followed him on every step of the adventure, but the reader-to-character connection could have been a little stronger. I think that was because I couldn't get a clear picture of what Jon looked like and therefore couldn't fix him in my mind as strongly as the others--Jackie Gates, Chu Ling, Darnell, even (or especially) Seth. Granted, it's hard to work in a character's own appearance when writing from third person limited, but maybe if I'd been able to picture what Jon looked like, that would've bridged the slight gap I felt.

The description of modern-day (in the story, meaning 2052) society and how it had changed since the outbreak of the fireflu was very interesting and was well-written, but some of it wasn't altogether relevant. The events during the last flu outbreak, yes, of course, that was relevant. But the detailed description of how family units had changed really wasn't integral to the story. Jon's family was sort of a footnote at the beginning and then almost completely abandoned for the rest of the story.

The settings, as I said earlier, were awesome. I loved the description of Darnell's domes on Titan. I could see it all, and it is totally the type of place I'd like to explore. The description of each scene kept me extremely interested, intrigued, and wondering what would happen next.

I thought the idea of 'experts' (virtual personal assistants) was also very interesting, especially since a lot of 'trends for the future' articles predict that we'll all have them sometime in the near future. And through them, another oft-discussed yet increasingly relevant topic is discussed: where do we draw the boundary between AI and people?

I picked up on the "bad guy" the minute he was introduced, and was hoping it didn't take the characters too long to figure out what he was up to. The ending was a bit rushed (isn't that statement getting to be a cliché these days?) but I wasn't completely disappointed in that...I don't like long, drawn-out, torturous scenarios where things go more and more wrong and the "good guys" can't get the "bad guys" fast enough...happily, that didn't happen here. There were some tense moments at the end (and throughout!) but in a good way.

I would read more by James Downey (I see this is his first novel) and I'd especially be interested to read more about what happens next in this story, should there ever be a sequel, though I can see it being more of a standalone book, because it does come (somewhat) full circle at the end. But the possibilities it suggests at the end are extremely interesting and intriguing.

I'll end with two more things.

1. Sorry to be nitpicky, but with all due respect, Wales is not "the western part of England." Wales and England are both countries that, together, form part of the United Kingdom.

and, 2. What the heck happened to Palmira???? She just disappears halfway through the story, never to be seen again. And she was actually one of my favorites. An AI 'expert' who is a cat, and acts for the most part like a cat, is new and refreshing, and with what Seth gets up to in the second half of the book, I would think Palmira would be interested. It's too bad she "disappeared."

4 reviews
February 10, 2021
I am not a professional book reviewer, editor, ghost writer nor even a writer. Reading to approximately 1/2, I had to give it up. In my unprofessional opinion the synopsis was far better than the actual and found it reminiscent of Arthur C Clark's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Profile Image for Ann237.
379 reviews4 followers
October 13, 2021

It took me a bit to get into the book, I do not blame the author for my mind was probably on what I had finished reading before this one. Once I got into it it was an enjoyable experience traveling threw the Communion of Dreams.
January 9, 2023
Well worth giving up sleep to read

A brilliantly built universe, a tantalizing mystery, and some light ethics and philosophy all rolled into one adventure.

I do not regret missing out on a night of my own dreams to join instead with this Communion of Dreams.
7 reviews
September 19, 2019
An optimistic read!

This is more of a "dialogue " novel, which I usually don't enjoy as much as "action". Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book.
331 reviews
April 25, 2022

I liked this generally but found it was hard for me to keep up with what was happening on titan and the station.
Profile Image for Mike.
Author 8 books15 followers
April 17, 2012
The writing flows along nicely enough. I was quite happy until abut a third of the way through. The story had been developing and was on the lines of '2001 Space Odyssey' (even gets a mention with regard to the monolith) and the team selection and activity of 'Sphere'. But then I felt the story got a shade bogged down with not really enough happening to justify the length. The idea is sound and the technical detail convincing but the desire to know what happened next gradually faded away. Maybe I didn't really care about the characters since they were a touch thinly drawn. James Downey can write but the storytelling ability seemed much less on display. Not quite four stars.
Profile Image for Amanda.
95 reviews6 followers
December 12, 2012
This book is why e-publishing isn't all bad. I'm really glad that it was available, and it was a thoroughly enjoyably read. It suffered from some pacing issues, and there was so much going on (thematically and action-wise) that I didn't really sink into getting to know the characters as well as I would have liked, but overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking read. I also really liked the fact that it was set in a dystopian future, but clearly about how dystopias don't have to last forever.

Definitely looking forward to reading more from this author.
15 reviews
September 12, 2014
This book mixes hard science with fiction into a believable future. It reminds me of Cyteen and Wheelers. It is well-written (no typos, missing quotes, etc), the characters are fleshed-out and the storyline is gripping. I especially enjoyed the explanation for a lack of radio signals and other communication from extra-terrestrial civilizations. Brilliant work. I look forward to reading more of his stories.
Profile Image for Kitty.
494 reviews2 followers
December 9, 2015
Enough science Science Fiction

Some science fiction works so hard at creating the necessary fictional science that the story becomes unintelligible. This is not one of those books. The story is good. The magic-like science works for my brain. The characters are believable and engaging.

I look forward to reading more of Mr. Downey's fiction.
Profile Image for Kevin Dunston.
4 reviews
February 14, 2016
Good read

A slow start and took a bit too long to move Into the meat of the story. I found there to be a few too many characters and they black d drop both. This just added confusion, not the needed depth. Story line and subject matter saved the day. The pace picked up mid story and the book took off nicely.
146 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2012
I had to stretch a bit to remember how this book ended. Not a good sign.... An interesting take on the evolution of computers. But the story seemed to get bogged down in a lot of meeting(!) dialog, and the main character was no compellingly sympathetic.
Profile Image for Mary.
509 reviews3 followers
May 13, 2014
I dont't read much science fiction (preferring to watch it) but I choses this book to take a break for the serious mysteries I normally read. It turned out to be a mystery afterall.

Characterizations were great, including the cyber character Seth. I want an Expert of my own.
Profile Image for Danielle Casey.
62 reviews6 followers
January 5, 2021
Another exceptional story from the brilliant Mr. Downey! He is great at transporting me to another place. As always the characters are vivid and real. I will remember them like friends. It was a true joy to read this story.
Profile Image for Jenny.
83 reviews
May 31, 2012
Pretty good characters. Plot was not always clear, easy to follow. Like it couldn't decide if it was mystical or sci fi.
Profile Image for Brian Richardson.
171 reviews
February 24, 2020
Started off with some interesting ideas, but quickly devolved into a lecture on scientific method with characters sketched, rather than fleshed out.
Profile Image for Brett Dunst.
34 reviews5 followers
December 22, 2012
The first 1/3 of this book was intolerably slow. Full of process and theorizing and "what ifs".

I stuck it through to the end and things kicked up.
5 reviews6 followers
April 22, 2013
The concept of this book was good but I found myself very confused in many parts of the book. I think that it was missing some descriptive text to explain more what was going on.
Profile Image for Stanley Townsend.
323 reviews5 followers
April 4, 2012
Though this kept me reading, in the end I kind of wondered why. Insubstantial for me.
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

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