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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  902 ratings  ·  42 reviews
After an accident in a brilliant young physicist's most ambitious experiment, it appears: a wondrous sphere the size of a basketball, made of nothing known to science. Before long, it will be clear that this object has opened a vista on an entirely different universe, a newborn cosmos whose existence will rock this world and test one woman to the limit: the physicist who h ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 1st 1999 by Eos (first published January 1st 1993)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  902 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Austin Bruce Hallock
Cosm is a really cool science-fictional idea (5 stars) grafted onto a mediocre love story (2 stars) and flavored with a dollop each of ethnic and gender diversity ("E" for effort), all set against a realistic backdrop of contemporary academic strife and scientific process (4 stars). This tale would have worked much better as a novelette, but strung out to novel length, it seemed to drag a bit. I'm averaging it out to an overall 3-star rating.
Bernabé Borrero
Considering I spent the whole day reading to finish this book, this review is probably far from being objective.
I did some research and apparently this book is not among the bests of the author, and partially I can understand why. It narrates the discovery of a weird object in an experiment, and how the discoverer tries to find out what on earth is it and how it works. It was interesting to see science fiction narrated from another point of view, making it more believable. The discoverer, a phys
Sep 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like a good, hard sci-fi yarn, but there are limits!

Reams of dry, abstruse physics theory - though certainly lending an air of authenticity to the concept - does not an entertaining read make. Reading this novel felt more like attending a lecture than it did entertainment.

Similarly, the minutiae of day-to-day life of university research staff and the culture they inhabit is not of sufficient interest to warrant the level of detail gone into by the author (who apparently has a personal axe to g
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a fun science fiction novel; my favorite type--something of a detective story. A new object suddenly just "shows up" in a particle accelerator, and much of the story is taken up in trying to figure out exactly what it is. Lots of laboratory and academic politics are stirred in, for good measure. While the main character always seems to do the wrong thing, it turns out, retrospectively, to have been exactly the "right thing" to do. As the author is a physicist, the explanations come acros ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This excellent novel could be read as a thematic sequel to his1980 masterpiece TIMESCAPE.I especially liked Benford 's satiric jab at Social Text,a journal that champions postmodernist nonsense.This novel is a real treat for inteligent readers.

Cover blurb got it wrong.They don't create a universe the size of a basketball.What they create is a wormhole that is like a window into a new universe.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book! The idea is great, an unknown sphere showing up in a lab experiment, great. However, the rest of the story is pathetic. Why this male author thought he
could tell the story from the point of view of a black woman scientist, I have no idea. He couldn't.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
I grabbed a whole stack of books which my Dad was going to throw away. This was one of them. The science was interesting enough to make me curious to know how it ended, but the poor attempts at philosophy, religion, romance and even a lame "action" sequence that never went anywhere really made this a poor book. It was also a bit dated, being published in 1998. Oddly the story is set in 2005 - not sure why that would be. But some of the experiments done in the story, which I imagine were just the ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really, really wanted to like this book. The premise was interesting and new, and a few moments in the book were truly inspired. I suppose Benford wanted to tell the story of a sardonic young professor's personal growth over a backdrop of what was probably supposed to be a symbolic mysterious object.
The good parts couldn't outweigh the love story that never quite feels relevant, or the endless musings over race and gender that never seem to affect the plot as much as one would think they could
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of the reasons I enjoy reading hard science fiction. It seemed smart, grounded in reality without smothering itself in it, and a joy to read. I even liked and, to a limited extent, identified with the characters. Wow, it's been a while.

Even though the book is two decades old (and I fear it's been hiding on my shelf for most of that period), it still rings up-to-date as long as you ignore the years. (At the time it was published, it was a near future book and now it's kind o
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Very compelling, I guess because I was interested to see what he would do with the Cosm as it developed. Characters are fairly believable, and the central science makes good fiction.

One niggle, from page 253: "The car took off with a surge, but no roar and squealing of brakes." Huh? How does anyone interested in how the world works not understand the basics of cars? This is especially puzzling given what he wrote on page 257: "... the car burned rubber getting away." So it would seem he knows th
Robert Day
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Left me feeling cheated. No aliens that I could see - just some hints. Then there's the way it all ended: far too suddenly. Did the author get bored? He could have written a hundred pages or so to tie it all up but instead quickly summarised it with two pages of newspaper headlines. Cheated.

There is more kitchen-sink drama than science fiction in this book. And not very realistic drama at that. Lack of detail about the protagonist's mind (a young(ish) woman), sketchy knowledge of the legal proce
Jacob Chipman
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
The physics in this book were really engaging! Though at times it seemed like the author wasn't certain where he wanted to go with the story. Likewise, the ending felt a bit rushed, like there was a need to tie up loose ends. Overall, worth a look.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Matt Maker
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this one a lot
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book has a provocative theme. What if scientists could create a new, baby universe in the lab? It starts off with a really grate look into the lives of high energy physicists. The long middle of the story is full of human drama, centered around the protagonist. She's an exquisite experimentalist, and also a big black woman. For some reason, this comes up over and over in her monologue, like it's all she thought of about herself. This reflects really poorly on Benford's ability to develop a ...more
Brent Ecenbarger
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-alikes
This is the second book I've tried based on its recommendation as a 'read alike' for an author I'm a big fan of. This time the author was Robert Heinlein, one of the most acclaimed authors in the science fiction genre. The experience was totally different than my first read alike, Telegraph Avenue. With that book I could see the comparisons to Nick Hornby's style but felt overall it wasn't nearly as good. Here, I didn't think the writing was at all similar to Heinlein, but overall I really enjoy ...more
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the near future the book deals in depth with the world of high tech physics research. It is written form an insiders point of view, by someone (Benford) who actually undertakes research, so apart for the last few chapters is very believable. Initially rather slow the novels deals with the creation of a separate universe using the ring at Brookhaven. Slowly the researchers, and the heroine is an over-large non-photogenic black woman (against stereotypes in fact and in fiction) realize what ...more
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I really enjoyed the portrayal of scientists, research, and their interactions with those in power. In a sense, the SF is limited. It's near-future - actually something which might have happened by the year I read it. There is a not-yet-happened discovery. The discovery is fantastic in one sense, but in another sense it's just a way to watch cosmic evolution from afar. (That is, it's not new tech that will change lives as much as PCs & cell phones have.) So this isn't the book to read when y ...more
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ugh! What can I say? I was between books and desperate. I grabbed it off the library shelf just because I had liked Benford's Timescape book. This book is not that book in any shape or form. This is a one idea book, that idea being what would happen if you could create a universe in the lab. It's a great idea, the execution is not so good. Also, the main character is a black woman and while it might be possible for a white man to flesh out such a character, Benford is not that white man. There a ...more
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
a good honest story about life as a real scientist that made me think: maybe I ought to do that, but it occupies a dull zone where a far-fetched & awesome premise/assumption is reigned in by too much realism to ever to get to anything very fantastic or exciting.
l'il weird that the white dude wrote about a black woman: sorta sweet, like my engineer dad's own enthusiasm about women in the sciences, but also definitely, totally fetishizing. Forward did this in Rocheworld, too. I can't tell if t
I read this book because the librarian of one of the worlds largest collections of scifi and fantasy books said that it would be way better than anything by Orson Scott Card or Tad Williams. I guess it is in the eye of the beholder, but it took me a long time to get through it and I was not really impressed. Yes, the story is quite interesting and sounds quite probable to me (physics scifi), but it takes too long to develop for my taste. I still give it a three star rating as I like it very much ...more
The universe in a basketball: Why is our universe so eerily suitable for us? Does this prove the existence of a god(dess)? Or is this universe itself the work of a blind watchmaker? Perhaps there are many god(desse)s, each thinking themselves unique, but actually part of a process of natural selection in meta-time. Benford writes well, setting the excitement of physics at the edge in a real world of interesting characters. Atheists and believers alike will find their imagination stimulated.
Madison Bemis
I had high hopes for this book, but was disappointed. It did get more interesting as I got farther into it, but the beginning was dry. The plot seemed intriguing, but half of the time I was questioning why this white male author was writing from a black woman's point of view (which came off as over-the-top stereotypical). The physics was what kept me reading, but even that at times got to be too much.
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good writing, but too abstruse, so I can’t say I understood much of the science, but the characters and the story were interesting, at least. Alicia is a black woman physicist, who “creates” in the course of an experiment, a new universe, developing at a pace exponentially faster than our own -- giving her and her colleagues a glimpse of our own universe’s future.
Charles Harrison
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some seriously cool science in this one and a wonderful insight into the inner working of academia. An unusual take on science fiction, this read more as a thriller with science in it. Predictable in some places, silly in others all in all a good solid read with enough nerdyness to keep the scientists among us satisfied.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is a good storyline about an experiment that causes an accident. The accident results in a basketball sized black sphere that eventually looks in to a new forming universe. The results are very interesting as the debate over science vs God and creation causes many interesting twists in the storyline. I really enjoyed this very different book.
Kevin Keller
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Broad view of the creation and extinction of a universe. In this case, the universe (cosm) is created by a character in the book by mistake as part of an experiment and the efforts to understand what is created and put it into perspective make for a very interesting read.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Sometimes the characters is there only to move the plot or give an opportunity to clear up the science, but the main character is pretty well developed. She's got some interest outside her lab. The idea is interesting and the hard science is pretty good.
May 21, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Soft Physics
Gregory Benford has done much better (notably with Timescapes). I found his attempt to construct a believable African-American female academic physicist to be very disappointing. I also found the story to be too clever.
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I can't tell whether Benford wanted this book to be about the science or about science's relation to the rest of society.
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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
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