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Heart of the Comet

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,517 ratings  ·  85 reviews
An odyssey of discovery, from a shattered society through the solar system with a handful of men and women who ride a cold, hurtling ball of ice to the shaky promise of a distant, unknowable future.
Mass Market Paperback, 479 pages
Published February 1st 1987 by Bantam Spectra (first published March 1986)
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Eric I agree it is an outstanding SF novel. I read Asimov and Clarke in the 80s and this is more sophistiacted and convincing within its premises! A great …moreI agree it is an outstanding SF novel. I read Asimov and Clarke in the 80s and this is more sophistiacted and convincing within its premises! A great balance between hard science, plot and relationships(less)

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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,517 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Sep 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I put off reading this book for a very long time, for mathematical reasons. David Brin is one of my absolute favorite writers; let's say my opinion of him is a 9 out of 10 (and nobody gets a 10). Gregory Benford was an unknown quantity, but probability told me that I wouldn't like his writing as much as Brin's. Even if I rated Benford as an 8, the average of that would be 8.5, lower than my expectations for a Brin book. Are you following me so far?

For the first 100 pages of this book, I had no i
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very decent hard SF read. People colonize Haley's Comet. There are factions and intrigue. Wackiness ensues.
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
How hard is it to marry good science and good fiction? Hard enough judging by the regular sc-fi novels coming out like dandelion seeds. Perhaps you have to go all the way back to 1985 to get at the goods. At least that's what one scientist suggested when I saw his list of best sci-fi books on a blog recently. From the other suggestions by other scientists it was pretty easy to conclude they don't read a lot of any kind of fiction; Dune featured a lot. Jules Verne, H.G. Welles, etc. etc. Sounds l ...more
Julie Ricks
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Phenomenal. Written in 1986, this "hard science" science fiction book still stands up. Assumptions about Halley's comet, written before it's 1986 appearance in this book, are accurate. There is a lot of math, science, computers, vectors, logarithms, biology ad nauseaum. If you like this, with two astrophysicist authors you get the real deal. If you don't, it's still cool because it's so amazing and true!

This is probably one of the best plotted books I've ever read. As it occurs over 2
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, 2012
So you have a plan - Find a comet, ride it through an orbit, during which you change its orbit, aim it at a dead world, harvest it for its resources and make life on a new world. Well you know from the beginning that this is just going to go so horribly wrong.

Over all a brilliant science fiction book, and though published back in 1986 the science hasn't dated.
Caia Cameron
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'll keep this short because all of the reviews I read before opening this book pretty much sum it up. This book truly is the hardcore science fiction book that I was craving. It was an exciting ride. I would recommend this book to anyone
Mihai Dincă
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the top 10 hard SF novels I've read so far.
Paul Weiss
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Grand, sweeping ideas exquisitely detailed on a grand, sweeping canvas!

Never let it be said that Gregory Benford or David Brin were thinking small or holding anything back when they wrote this masterpiece which I am pleased to add to my all-time favourites list.

Heart of the Comet is a brilliant variation on the standard sci-fi multi-generation starship theme that blends hard science with the softer sci-fi themes of human psychology in a blender that is no less than our entire solar system. As to
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An immersive story one I highly recommend.
Benjamin Atkinson
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hard sci-fi, near future, all time greats
Shelves: hard-sf, literature
Caveat- this is not for beginners. Fantastic, I loved Gregory Benford's Permutation City as well as David Brin's assorted novels, so I dived in. Both authors are brilliant men with real scientific backgrounds backing up their prophetic prose. The book's structure is told through multiple points of view keeping the pace lively and the narrative fresh. The greatest aspect, however, is the amount of real science packed into such a well-paced and entertaining read. I have read many reviews listing t ...more
Alex Hammel
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jer Wilcoxen
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
After 76 pages, I had to put it down. 76 pages of not telling us why and how a group of people are on Halley's comet to mine it for water; 76 pages of telling us that half of the people hate "Orthos" (non-gene modified people) and the other half hate "Percells" (gene modified people). The set up was just too heavy handed, lacking subtlety, and didn't induce any interest or care for the characters in me. Didn't need to waste any more time with a racial "us vs them" story I can read in any newspap ...more
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a solid science fiction, exactly what I would expect from Benford and Brin. Taking place over a hundred years or so, a crew of hundreds of experts in various fields embark on a lifetime mission to inhabit and change the trajectory of the comet Halley. Using hibernation technology and alternating shifts we follow the evolution of the society of people on the comet as they deal with the unforeseen challenges of disease and adaptation in the cold of outer space. Through this story the auth ...more
Dick Cameron
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Written in 1986 the last time Halley's comet came whizzing by, this sci-fi ride is quite brilliant. Scientifically well researched but of course purely speculative about the nature and origin of Halleybop. A delightful array of characters pepper this tale of occupying and attempting to tame the great comet. The turn of events, of which there are many, were unexpected and engrossing from the start. Just when I thought I knew where it was going it took a turn to a conclusion only far out scientist ...more
Chris Ellis
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book begins with the coolest of premises, and just never slows down. It was awesome.

Certainly not a sugar coated "here we go out into space" story. There are major obstacles to overcome, from both the environment and the prejudices of the voyagers, changing attitudes towards the mission from Earth, and just the overall harshness of the situation taking a mental toll on all.

The technology of "Sleep Slotting" allows the narrative to jump forward as the principal storytellers are put on ice, s
Patrick Mézard
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It was one of the first hard-SF novel I read, maybe twenty years ago. The Rosetta mission made me think about it again. Looking for it, I reread Benford "In the Ocean of Night" and "Across a Sea of Stars" (still interesting but so badly written), then eventually hit the "Heart of the Comet". It did not age, it is an awesome novel and I appreciated it now better than before. It has something different. Less "mechanical" than KS Robinson or Baxter books. And while it assumes a lot of non-obvious d ...more
Cindy Bravo
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this book especially transporting to read during the Christmas season, where I could escape to Halley's Comet and the people who were colonizing it. The book covers almost one-hundred years and is filled with interesting science that makes what happens in the story, adaption to Halley life and Halley's new use believable. By the end of the story you see evolution in process and are sorry to lose such good friends.
Trynia Merin
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
First book I read by this author and instantly loved it. Anyone who is interested in space colonization and hard SF would enjoy it. Benford did a bang up job creating a space mission to Comet Halley, and encorporated many ideas into his novel that make it an interesting read. Including biocomputers, cryogenic hibernation for long voyages, and extrapolating Earth's culture in the future.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that really got me into to the "hard" side of SF; a preference which continues to this day. Although our current knowledge of Halley's comet has outdated the version of the comet in this novel, it is none-the-less a great hard SF adventure, with some interesting politics and philosophy thrown in as well.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A book written in the style of Asimov, with a glimpse of Pohl's Gateway, some elements that reminded me of the movie Gravity (but written 30 years before) and a hint from Alien. So, if you like the aforementioned you will like this too. Don't get me wrong it is very original, with good fiction grounded on science. It aged well and still makes an enjoyable read!
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Simply one of the best sci-fi book I have read in a good while! I just could not put it down. The premise, characters and plot are a culmination of science, talent and imagination that is believable. To think that I just now discovered it so long after it's publication...definitely to re-read!
Paul Trembling
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With two top SF writers collaborating, you'd expect something good - and this doesn't disappoint. The scenario is fascinating, the science intriguing, the characters are deep and the background authentic. Etc. In other words, top quality writing.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
This book has everything you'd ever want in a sci-fi novel! Space travel, robots, aliens, advanced genetics, tough survivors, adventure! Not to mention the great characters like Jewish geneticist underdog hero Saul and clever queen of the machines programmer Virginia.
Jul 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great work of sci-fi, an interesting idea explored and thought out with hard science and great characters.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
If you’re even remotely interested in space exploration, you’re probably aware of one simple fact: NASA is incredibly picky when it comes to who they send into space. It’s not just about ability and intelligence, either. You can be Einstein and they might turn you down if you don’t meet the right psychological profile. You see, NASA understands that, if you put people together in close quarters for weeks, months, or even years, then you need to be very sure that those people will get along. The ...more
Rob Caswell
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
First, a bit of backstory. When this book was announced ahead of its 1986 publication, I was very excited due to both the plot description and authors. But once I finally had it in my grubby lil’ hands, I had trouble getting through it for some reason. It’s not a short book, so maybe things just weren’t unfolding at a pace I wanted/expected?

In any case, fast forward thirty-three years and something about this book called me back for a another run at it. Maybe it was my just being tired of the ge
Nathan Miller
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Comets have fascinated us since we first saw them streaking across the heavens. We wondered what they were and what they might do to us. In the last century, several space probes have given amounts of information about these dirty snowballs that keep zipping about the solar system. But we've barely scratched the surface! This novel does a lot of deep digging.

What begins as an ambitious plan to hijack Halley's Comet and steer it into the inner solar system quickly begin
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An oldie, 1986, by David Brin and Gregory Benford. Haven't read anything by the latter, but have come to know the former as a great and formidable hard-sf-author. This one has been on my shelf for some time - no, not 34 years :-) - but it is a true find. Reading it I felt that same thrill again I had when I first picked up an sf novel. The ingredients: Halley's comet (had just appeared in the sky again in 1986), alien life forms inside, initially lethal for humans; mission to bring it closer to ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul W
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
In February 1986 Halley’s comet passed by Earth on its recurring circa 75 year journey through the solar system. This was the catalyst for the collaboration of Brin and Benford for this ‘hard’ SF novel written under “astronomical deadlines”.
He that leaveth nothing to chance
will do few things ill,
but he will do very few things.
The story starts with an expedition rendezvousing with Halley’s next perihelion passage in mid-2061 with an ambitious objective of altering the comet’s trajectory to enabl
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David Brin is a scientist, speaker, and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Existence, his latest novel, offers an unusual scenario for first contact. His ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends

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