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In the South Pacific, 1,000 feet beneath the surface, a spaceship rests on the ocean floor--a spaceship at least 300 years old

Rushed to the scene are four scientists: an astrophysicist, a biologist, a mathematician and a psychologist. Together they descend into the depths of the sea to investigate this astonishing find, to search for answers.

Has it come from an alien culture? From a different universe? From the future? What happened to the crew and what is the giant silver sphere of alien construction that they find inside the ship?

The riddle seems unsolvable. The someone or something begins to transmit messages onto their computer screen: messages that grow increasingly hostile, hinting at a terrifying power that threatens to destroy their underwater habitat and their very lives...

SPHERE is Michael Crichton at the top of his form. An astounding combination of action, suspense and science that probes the darkest corners of the mind where man's deadliest enemy lurks.
--back cover

385 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Michael Crichton

269 books16.4k followers
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael Douglas and Jeffery Hudson. His novel A Case of Need won the Edgar Award in 1969. Popular throughout the world, he has sold more than 200 million books. His novels have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and thirteen have been made into films.

Michael Crichton died of lymphoma in 2008. He was 66 years old.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,065 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
793 reviews3,599 followers
June 7, 2020
Very much yada yada, humanities vs natural sciences and a wasted plot idea with far too less action and twists.

I still remember how boredom and disappointment grew, after the first few chapters showed the setting and some suspense was built up and then it got lengthy and neither the psychological inner character plot nor the other big mystery plot made much fun or sense, especially because the logic of motivations and thinking capacities and abilities of the protagonists were… average.

Some seem to see some kind of deeper philosophical meaning in this one, especially towards the end with something one could call a subtle plot twist, but to me, it was a too constructed, not well designed novel. It tried to be mindfu**ing, but the realization was poor.

Possibly, in its time, when there were not much of similar techno- and science-thriller works with Sci-Fi elements for a broader audience, it could have been seen as not so bad because of a lack of alternatives, but especially compared with what today's genre writers produce on a yearly basis and very high level, it sucks. I especially have to laugh about the „psychological thriller“ argument that was used to sell it, because Crichton's characterization and dialogues are so terrible in this one.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,125 reviews3,551 followers
January 9, 2015
Back in 1993, after reading Jurassic Park (see review of that book HERE), I was like in Crichton-mode actived! ;)

So, my next novel had to be by Michael Crichton!

I went to the bookstore and this one was the first book that I checked and after reading the premise, I found it promising. ;)

So, I bought it and started to read it.


Since the beginning I was in shock amalgamated with happiness since the style and mood of the novel was astonishing good. (Of course, by then I hadn't read yet The Andromeda Strain, so the idea of gathering a group of expert scientist to deal with something alien was something new for me :P )

I don't know if happens to you, that sometimes if you are reading a novel that it hasn't being made into a film yet (I read the novel like 5 years before to be poorly adapted to a movie) sometimes I imagined some actor or actress to "play" the role of the character in my mind, an amusing thing was by then, in 1993, Sharon Stone was in hype due films like "Basic Instinct" and "Sliver", so when I imagined some actress to fill my image of Dr. Beth Halperin, I thought in Sharon Stone that she eventually got the role!

Honest to God! True story!

Curiously, 5 years later, Sharon Stone wasn't in hype anymore so, knowing that she was casted in the role that I pictured in my mind was amusing but odd at the same time.

I didn't picture Dustin Hoffman for the role of Dr. Goodman, no offense to Mr. Hoffman, which is an actor that I admired a lot, but I thought in Sean Connery for that character.

Anyway, the film was a big dissapointment for me since it was very poor adaptation to such excellent book, so if you ever watched the film and you didn't like it, don't worry, that's normal, but please , if that's the reason that you haven't read this novel yet, please go and read it! (Of course, if you have the luck of not having watched the film, please, PLEASE, don't watch it!)

I can assure you that the novel is way, way, WAY , better in infinite ways than that mediocre film.

I already mentioned the style and mood of the book, I just want to take the topic again to mention that it was a thrilling experience, since you feel that the story is taken very seriously from the scientific angle.

All the journey and process of exploring the alien ship is brilliant, you feel that you are there, down in the bottom in the ocean with them, walking with them.

There is a major spoiler in this book, that I won't comment here, don't worry, but please avoid at all costs to know that spoiler if you choose to read the book, since it's that kind of spoilers that if you already knew it before of reading the book, simply you will ruin all the fun of actually reading the book and making the investigation along with the scientist group.

If you like sci-fi book and/or techno-thriller novels, this is a GREAT option.

Highly recommended.
9 reviews12 followers
July 11, 2007
First, an overlong apologist's review of Michael Crichton. Then, a very short review of Sphere.

(Life update: I am procrastinating).

In my opinion, you can only truly rate a Michael Crichton book by a) the depth and originality of the concept and b) the lucidity of the monologue/essay that will always occur, usually as a rant from some broken visionary genius or another, approx. 4/5 of the way through the book.

Rating Michael Crichton on his prose, either its subtlety or execution, is sort of pointless... there's no doubt that this man is a shitty prose writer, short on synonyms and prone to spend most of his energy on frenetic descriptions of action. He's basically writing scripts... which is why the man gets the Dan Brown money, but no respect from the smarties.

So in the man's defense: Michael Crichton is not really a writer, he's an idea man, and that's what attracted me to him in the first place, way back at age eleven. He's the first person I know of since maybe Jules Verne or H.G. Wells to do high quality sci-fi thought experiments, almost always focused on some aspect of humanity's inexorable "progress." In his better books, these are made far more interesting by the aforementioned monologue/essay. This is a hat trick I've never seen another writer (skilled or not) employ so effectively; these speeches almost always provide a (genuinely!) surprising counterpoint, and reframes the "innovations" Crichton describes in terms of different core needs. So suddenly the Timeline is not about BS quantum physics, it is about the rising social need for authenticity. Lost World is not about cashing in on the notion of cloning again; its about successful species as extinction-level events. These speeches are usually so tightly written in comparison to the rest of the text that I've started to think that Michael Crichton starts with them, and build a plot out/afterwards.

Sphere is, in my opinion, Michael Crichton's most interesting book on two levels. First, the plot: a truly great parable on the endgame of technology, and the long-sought-after dream of Alladin's magic lamp. I don't want to go too deep, but I'll say that it is, in my humble hypothesis, the uncredited inspiration for the excellent show Lost. While the plot is a highlight, I personally keep this book high on my list of favorites, after all these years, because of the Essay, which breaks with/plays off Crichton's typical form: instead of a broken monologue with a human genius, it takes the form of an italicized, nearly stream of consciousness Socratic dialogue with... something. Again, the writing is problematic (Crichton manages to use the word "foam" 23 times or so in two paragraphs) but, even after all these years, the content still stirs me: the subject is consciousness and the power and meaning of the question mark... again I'll let him do the rest. You can (and should) disagree with his analysis, you can shrug aside his monosyllables, but if something in his notion of What Makes Humanity? doesn't stir you, then you are missing out. You have finally and irrevocably left the seventh grade, that painful age of wondering, in favor of a well-fortified adulthood... and as nice as that sounds, you probably left something essential behind.

Hmmm... I may have gotten a little presumptive towards the end there. I'm sure some very smart people have very good reasons for scoffing at Michael Crichton. Allright, let me adjust my position: if you read Sphere, and have thoughts, positive or negative, about the Essay, please write me. If you know of other works, academic or flippant or otherwise, on the same topic, forward 'em. It happens to be one of my favorite things to discuss.

Four stars: One demit for bad writing, the fact that I haven't read the book in seven years, the undercooked movie, and my general cowardice (I would seem SO much smarter if I reserved five stars for Gravity's Rainbow...).
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.5k followers
November 27, 2020
Sphere, Michael Crichton

Sphere is a 1987 novel by Michael Crichton. It was adapted into the film Sphere in 1998.

The story follows Norman Johnson, a psychologist engaged by the United States Navy, who joins a team of scientists assembled to examine a spacecraft of unknown origin, discovered on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The novel begins as a science fiction story, but quickly transforms into a psychological thriller, developing into an exploration of the nature of the human imagination. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ماه اکتبر سال 2004میلادی

عنوان: ک‍ره‌ (جسم کروی)؛ نویسنده: م‍ای‍ک‍ل‌ ک‍رایت‍ون‌؛ م‍ت‍رج‍م‌: ع‍ل‍ی‌ ف‍ام‍ی‍ان‌؛ ت‍ه‍ران، نشر ن‍ق‍طه‌‏‫، 1382؛ در 531ص؛ شابک 9645548659؛ موضوع داستانهای علمی تخ��لی از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

رمان «کره»، همچون بیشتر آثار «کرایتون»، پرداختی پر از تنش، و هیجان، به همراه دارد؛ یافتن یک وسیله ی ناشناس، در ژرفای اقیانوس، پای یک روانشناس را، به جریانی دشوار باز میکند؛ او که زمانی گزارشی محرمانه، برای برخورد با بیگانگان، برای دولت تهیه کرده، پایش به ماجرا کشیده میشود؛ تلاشی برای حل معمای این شیء عجیب، آنها را به جریانی خطرناک و عجیب میکشاند؛ آن شیء عجیب، در اعماق اقیانوس آرام، یک کشتی ناشناخته، و بسیار بزرگ است؛ دانشمندان به سرعت خود را به آنجا می‌رسانند، تا آن را بررسی کنند؛ اما آنچه را می‌بینند نمی‌توانند باور نمایند، آن کشتی یک سفینه‌ است با ابعادی خارق العاده، که حتی بر اثر سقوط نیز آسیب ندیده است، و عجیب‌تر اینکه سیصد سال از عمر آن سفینه می‌گذرد، ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 06/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Ron.
386 reviews88 followers
September 6, 2021
Crichton takes the reader down down down beneath the surface of the ocean to where an ancient ship, of a kind, has been found lying on the sea floor. Now I've not read much Crichton in my past, outside of the Jurassic Park novels, but there are at least two things I have learned about his work. He communicates the story by means of an intelligent and learned, yet personable (and that's key), main character. In this case, it's a psychologist Norman Johnson. What would be the need for a psychologist in an underwater exploration 1200 feet down? Just let him show you. Then he starts in with the rapid fire of scientific ideas, and the mystery of the current situation. With Jurassic Park, it was gene-splicing DNA to bring back the dinosaurs, and I remember wondering if that was even possible. Later, I heard some scientists say that it probably was. I didn't really care if it was or not. I just ate that shit up. Now, in Sphere, I found myself doing the same (by the way, Sphere was written before Jurassic Park). Most technology is likely very provable here, others ideas are simply “out there”, as they should be. Science and ideology would be lost without a story, so that's the third thing I know about a Crichton book. He moves it along by use of suspense. Not always perfectly believable, but I could not help but anticipate each coming chapter, continually guessing the answer to every puzzle presented. Can anyone not do the same?

Buddy read with my friend, Josen.
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,412 followers
August 6, 2014

I had some idea what to expect when I picked up the late Michael Crichton's sci-fi thriller Sphere because I'd seen the movie years ago -- a movie I love by the way despite a lot of lambasting from the critics and grumbling from the book's fans. Sure it isn't perfect (with its moments of cheese and flubs); nevertheless, the exciting, chilling core of Crichton's story is evident and for me the film still stands as a great example of escapist cinema, that mesmerizing addictive blend of science fiction and horror.

But I'm probably more forgiving than most. One of my favorite movie genres is space horror. There's something about the claustrophobic squeeze of the 'group in peril' scenario as it hurtles through the freezing, oxygenless void of space where no one can hear you scream. Or the imperiled stranded on an uninhabited, hostile planet where the very environment wants to kill you -- Alien, Aliens, Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Event Horizon, and Pitch Black just to name a few.

Sphere is not set in space, but it might as well be. It takes the reader deep into the darkest part of the ocean where unfathomable pressure forces threaten to crush and demolish, where the only breathable oxygen is what you bring with you, where the landscape is as alien and inhospitable as anything found in outer space.

A thriller should thrill. It should keep you turning the pages long into the night, white-knuckled and on the edge of your seat. Horror should unsettle and disturb you, compelling you to look over your shoulder and under the bed for that unnamed threat. Science fiction should challenge your concept of reality, bending your mind to what's possible, to what could actually be. In Sphere Crichton is firing on all cylinders as a storyteller, accomplishing all three of these seemingly without any effort at all.

It's such a treat to see an author in this much control of his narrative. I read this compulsively, voraciously, rarely coming up for air. I can only imagine the inexorable tension I would have experienced had I not seen the movie and therefore knew most of what to expect. Even so, the whole experience remained thrilling and deliciously unnerving. The pacing is pitch perfect, each devastating reveal coming at the exact right moment. Who or what "Jerry" is becomes a maddening puzzle, his voice and demeanor as terrifying and memorable as HAL 9000.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
484 reviews808 followers
July 24, 2016
Bullet points seem appropriate when it comes to Sphere, the 1987 science fiction thriller by Michael Crichton. One of the qualities about Crichton's work that I love is the unabashed clarity of his concepts and the dependable navigation of his novels. Crichton doesn't seem like he's lost or should stop to ask for directions. Other writers--those with loftier creative ambitions, perhaps--tend to circle around ideas (like mankind's first contact with extraterrestrials) as if they've never been in this neighborhood before. Crichton doesn't take the scenic route. He accelerates directly to FINISH, usually provoking quite a literary rush. Usually.

* Norman Johnson, a 53-year-old psychologist, is raced across the Pacific Ocean in a Navy helicopter. Skipped from Honolulu to Guam to Pago Pago to wherever he is, Norman is on the FAA's list of crash-site teams and has responded to three airline disasters in the last decade. The Navy has told him that there's been an airplane crash, but information en route has been murky. Out of the blue appear more than a dozen ships: eight Navy destroyers, two Remote Vehicle Support ships, a Mission Support and Supply ship and a couple of Oceanic Survey and Research Vessels, including the John Hawes, which Norman is dropped off on.

* Norman is taken to the project commander, Captain Harold Barnes. Informed that there were no survivors, Norman is at a loss as to why he was summoned, his specialty being the treatment of psychological trauma suffered by airline crash survivors. Barnes notifies Norman that there is no aircraft. It's a spacecraft. And estimations are that the crash occurred three hundred years ago. Norman is here because of a report the National Security Council paid him to write for the Carter administration, recommending contingency plans in the event of extraterrestrial contact. Norman's paper, which he considered a joke at the time, was titled "Recommendations for the Human Contact Team to Interact with Unknown Life Forms (ULF)." Norman is taken to meet his recommendations:

* Ted Fielding is a 40-year-old astrophysicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pompous but cheerful, he's a science communicator who's appeared on television and is a major advocate of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. He can't wait to get down to the spacecraft, which is settled "only" a thousand feet beneath the surface. Ted compensates for his perceived lack of accomplishment in his field by hoping this event will be his legacy.

* Beth Halpern is a 36-year-old zoologist/ biochemist at the University of Chicago. She's a serious weightlifter and runner. Her recent work has been studying cephalopods. Her thesis is that if not for their three year life span, octopi might be the dominant intelligence on earth. Beth reveals to Norman that Barnes is ex-Navy and as a member of the Defense Science Board, advises the Joint Chiefs of Staff on weapons acquisitions.

* Harry Adams is a 30-year-old mathematician at Princeton, the youngest but most vital member of the team. His job is to communicate with the ULF. A prodigy in the field of probability, he has a chip on his shoulder, but is almost always right. He theorizes that the spacecraft is . And after the team is briefed by Barnes, Harry confronts the commander for lying to them about divers still searching for the spacecraft door; Harry deduces they've already found it.

* Barnes briefs the team that a Navy vessel laying a fiber-optics cable from Honolulu to Sydney hit a snag midway between American Samoa and Fiji. The cable was severed by an obstruction. Sophisticated side-scanning sonar found the obstruction to be a 280 foot tall fin attached to a cylindrical object half a mile long. A segment of the fin cut by a remote vehicle and analyzed strongly suggests that the object could not have originated on this planet. After two weeks of study, geologists confirmed that the coral around the spacecraft is at least three hundred years old, maybe older. If the crew is still alive, the ULF team is to make contact with it.

* In the morning, Norman is piloted down to the ocean floor with Ted, who's already working out what they should say to the ULF. They dock at a Navy habitat consisting of five interconnected cylinders where divers have been at work cutting a tunnel to the door. Beth and Harry have been joined by Captain Barnes and the Navy staff who support the contact team: Tina Chan handles electronics. Jane Edmunds is the unit archivist. Alice Fletcher is a chief petty officer and support chief. Rose Levy is the cook. Their genders are not accidental. Barnes explains that Navy studies have shown women to be superior to men for submerged operations.

* In a key passage of the novel, the contact team stops before entering the spacecraft to debate each other on the topic of ceremony.

Edmunds: "Tape is running."

Ted: "I'd like to say a few words."

Harry: "Jesus, Ted. Can't you ever let up?"

Ted: "I think it's appropriate."

Harry: "Go ahead, make your speech."

Ted: "Hello. This is Ted Fielding, here at the door of the unknown spacecraft which has been discovered--"

Barnes: "Wait a minute, Ted. 'Here at the door of the unknown spacecraft' sounds like 'here at the tomb of the unknown solider.'"

Ted: "You don't like it?"

Barnes: "Well, I think it has the wrong associations."

Ted: "I thought you would like it."

"Cant we just get on with it, please?"

Ted: "Never mind."

Harry: "What, are you going to pout now?"

Ted: "Never mind. We'll do without any commentary on this historic moment."

Harry: "Okay, fine. Let's get it open."

Ted: "I think everybody knows how I feel. I feel that we should have some brief remarks for posterity."

Harry: "Well,
make your goddamn remarks!"

Ted: "Listen, you son of a bitch. I've had about enough of your superior, know-it-all attitude--"

Barnes: "Stop tape please."

Edmunds: "Tape is stopped, sir."

Barnes: "Let's everyone settle down."

Harry: "I consider all this ceremony utterly irrelevant."

Ted: "Well, it's not irrelevant. It's appropriate."

Barnes: "All right, I'll do it. Roll the tape."

Edmunds: "Tape is rolling."

Barnes: "This is Captain Barnes. We are now about to open the hatch cover. Present with me on this historic occasion are Ted Fielding, Norman Johnson, Beth Halpern, and Harry Adams."

Harry: "Why am I last?"

* This passage is a snapshot of the novel. The dialogue: not that great. I find it contrived that the team would have a discussion like this while fitted with deep sea diving gear one thousand feet below the surface on the threshold of an alien spacecraft. They should be so terrified that snappy banter is beyond them. However, based on the egos involved, there is a certain honesty to this exchange. In terms of character, Sphere may be the best Michael Crichton has done. The behavior of the team feels consistent with their fields and backgrounds. I thought it was cool to watch scientists spitball their Neil Armstrong speech.

That's enough bullet points. Now for what I loved (+) and didn't love (-).

+ Crichton takes care assembling a contemporary team of civilian and military professionals to make contact with an alien. How would that contingency plan come together? Who would you choose to talk to an ULF? I found this a damn interesting. I'd want a computer hacker to watch the alien and detect whether it was violating any security protocols, i.e. acting shady. Maybe also a musician or comedian to help lighten the mood. It occurs to me I'm now trying to rewrite Crichton but this is actually a good thing. I was invested in the outcome of his story.

+ Lots of intrigue at the front. Crichton introduces an anomaly and compelled me keep reading until his whatsit was explained. What is the alien spacecraft? Who's inside it? Where did it come from? What does it want? All in all, the resolution of these questions were not what I expected, but satisfying. His brainstorm to position the spacecraft on the ocean floor was a very good one. If the situation wasn't terrifying enough, putting the craft in the deep brings another level of unease and dread, as well as opportunity to write about physiology, oceanography and marine biology.

+ "Jerry," the ULF, and is both fascinating and intimidating.

- One of my least favorite characteristics in any book or movie are characters who demonstrate poor job performance. I know that's true to life; I just don't want to read about it. Several of the team members, namely Ted, propose arguments steeped in ignorance that I felt would be, at best, unprofessional for any garden variety scientist, out of character at worst. Ted's knee jerk reaction to anything unexplained is that it has to be alien. He manufactures a conclusion waiting for data. I don't know jack shit about science but even I caught on that this was a fallacy of logic and inherently dangerous to the team.

- Crichton's dialogue is written with that amateur writer's template where characters incessantly refer to each other by name. If I had to take a shot of tequila every time someone said, "Norman" I'd have pickled my liver by page 100. Norman even comments at one point that Beth referring to him by his name is getting on his nerves and indicative of the deterioration of her mind, so maybe this was deliberate on Crichton's part. It drove me batty.

- The Navy personnel aren't well developed at all. Their carry zero currency.

+/- I guess that I should feel disappointed by a story that but I think that Crichton navigates the first contact obstacle course extremely well. In my opinion, most stories involving extraterrestrials take a belly flop into ridiculousness once an alien starts walking around and talking. There are a couple of notable examples. I kind of like Crichton's take on this and how he didn't try to explain everything.

* Sphere bends human psychology and alien possibility together in ways that thrilled me. It is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, but this came first, so perhaps Crichton was using himself as an influence. The bottom line for me is that it's a fantastic yarn. Sphere was adapted into a big movie in 1998 starring Dustin Hoffman as Norman, Sharon Stone as Beth, Samuel L. Jackson as Harry, Liev Schreiber as Ted and Peter Coyote as Barnes. Watching this cast act is great fun, but when they aren't working off each other, or "Jerry," and stunts have to take over, the suspense flags.
Profile Image for ash | spaceyreads.
346 reviews204 followers
September 25, 2016
2.5 stars. Was debating whether to give it a 2.5 or a 3, with the number changing throughout the book. Man, this was... Lukewarm? Lackluster? Disappointing, definitely.

What I liked
• Interesting premise that held my attention up until the middle of the book, where improbable things start happening and Crichton failed to make them feel real
• Slightly dry, witty style of writing, but again, made the dialogue really unrealistic

What I didn't like
• Terribly written characters. Crichton really overdid it on Beth, a woman scientist who has inferiority and self-esteem issues and talk a lot about how men is constantly being sexist towards her. Crichton has managed to make her into a whiny, insecure, overcompensating person on the issue of her gender. Surely a more complex personality can be used as a plot point/portrayal of imperfect woman/whatever he was trying to achieve?! than a caricature of a feminist which obviously is basically the author's negative impression of them
• Pop psychology. The whole Norman trying to analyze his colleagues, but failing, because his observations are written by someone who plainly didn't have knowledge of the field. If there's anything a psychology student hate more than the type of 'psychology' you see on Facebook.....
• Unrealistic portrayal of emotions, situations, personalities
• The premise isn't unforgettable, regrettably. It's quite underwhelming.
Profile Image for Dave Edmunds.
261 reviews52 followers
July 18, 2021

"The fears unleashed by contact with a new life form are not understood. The most likely consequence of contact is absolute terror."

I've been getting into my Michael Crichton books lately as part of a chronological read-along with Mike Kearns, from Mikesbookreviews channel on YouTube.  While they've all been entertaining reads, Sphere is without doubt the pick of the bunch so far. I'm not joking, it's so bloody good. 4.5 stars out of 5 and so close to full marks.

Sphere doesn't mess about.  It's a full on Sci fi horror.  As you know by now, that's so far up my street it's in the front room of my house, sitting on the sofa. It comes with being a huge fan of movies like Terminator, Event Horizon and of course Aliens. This book hits all the right buttons if you're into those type of movies.

So what's this one about?  Underwater adventure is the name of the game when a hand-picked team of scientists go down to the bottom of the Pacific to explore, what looks like, an alien craft.  It's what's on board that gives the story it's title, as our team discover a mysterious, spherical object that holds all kinds of secrets. I won't say anymore about it as I don't want to give the game away.

"You say you have inside you the power of good and the power of evil, the angel and the devil, but in truth you have just one thing inside you - the ability to imagine."

Say one thing about about Crichton's writing...what it lacks in prose and use of literary techniques, it makes up for that in how accessible it makes science fiction.  His books always teach you something but never make it difficult. It's extremely well paced and flows fantastically. Crichton systematically ramps up the tension all the way to a full-on, climactic finish.

"And I think the answer is that we are, in reality, terribly frail animals. And we don't like to be reminded of how frail we are—how delicate the balances are inside our own bodies, how short our stay on Earth, and how easily it is ended."

One of the main selling points of Sphere is its atmosphere. The reader feels trapped at the bottom of the ocean with the characters and Crichton sets up the environment perfectly. It's tense, claustrophobic and you literally feel like you're struggling for air down there as Crichton gives you all the facts without info dumping on your ass.  He's certainly one of the best authors at doing this. Or was one of the best :(

I'm going to say something that I don't normally say with Crichton and that is the characters in this one are really good and enjoyable. He focuses on Norman Johnson as the protagonist in this one, who's a psychologist and is able to provide a real psychological insight into each character. There's a lot of development for the three main characters and its a very engaging journey.  Their inner psyche has an important impact on the story and Crichton fully explores each.

So all in all an absolutely bitchin, kick ass sci fi horror that leaves you gasping for breath. Certainly one I'd read again and raising the bar for Mr Crichton. I know everybody knows him for Jurassic Park but they really need to check this bad boy out to. A definite recommendation. Check it out. Peace!
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,889 reviews428 followers
June 7, 2022
'Sphere' by Michael Crichton is a superior read in science fiction entertainment! The moments of ROTF are many, primarily because of the intentionally funny dialogue which I adored. (In my checkered history of trying to make a living, I worked as a secretary for a Department Head at a Medical Center/Science facility at a famous University. Science investigators ARE remarkably territorial, argumentative and viciously competitive.) I also was fascinated by the protocols the author mentions that have been created for determining if Earth is dealing with extraterrestrial life if some sort of contact from space seemingly has occurred.

The plot of ‘Sphere’:

Fifty-three year old Dr. Norman Johnson, psychologist, has been selected as a member of a special American Navy exploration team of civilians. There has been extraterrestrial contact!

Well, maybe. Anyway, a peculiar metallic fin has been discovered deep in the ocean buried in a coral bed which is at least 300 years old. The Navy has already conducted tests, the results of which has led them to invite certain scientists to research and perform further tests. Dr. Johnson wrote the paper "Contact with Possible Extraterrestrial Life' for the National Security Council, which is what the USA government is working from in response to the discovery of the fin. Along with developing contingency plans if some sort of space alien ever showed up, Norman provided a list of scientists he felt would work well together in figuring out how to communicate with something which might have completely different cultural reference points than humans from Earth.

The civilian team:

Theodore 'Ted' Fielding, astrophysicist/planetary geologist and benighted alien enthusiast
Elizabeth Halpern, zoologist/biochemist, cautious and smart
Harold Adams, mathematician/logician, coldly logical
Norman Johnson, psychologist, professional communicator and smoother of group catfights

and along for the ride are various lovable technical experts from the Navy who run the huge underwater habitat of connected cylinders built next to the fin over a thousand feet below the ocean's surface.

The plan after their submarine trip down to the pressurized habitat is to examine and explore the mysterious fin's exterior for seventy-two hours. No one expected the huge hurricane which drives off the Navy ships supporting the habitat - or sudden appearance of the door in the fin...

The dialogue in 'Sphere' reminded me a LOT of the dialogue from another great entertainment:


'The Thing from Another World', made in 1951, and still my favorite science fiction monster movie.

However, the danger which resides within the fin is much more enigmatic and sneakily awful than the alien vegetable in the movie. The book maintains a solid footing in speculative sci-fi from beginning to end, and although the dialogue reminded me of 'The Thing...' movie, the mystery behind the fin reminded me of Solaris

Wow, is there a lot on the Internet about determining if space aliens are really from space! I decided to stick to the most famous respectable information site, also mentioned in Crichton's 1987 book - SETI:



And, about the Drake Equation mentioned in 'Sphere':


and the Fermi Paradox, or otherwise the "where is everybody? question:


or, the thinking about how 'they' might be found is through tracking down hints the space aliens are looking at us already:


or, actually, clues that they have already arrived:

Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews930 followers
February 28, 2017
Well... that was very strange.

This book is a combination of psychological thriller and science fiction. It follows a group of scientists as they investigate what is thought to be an alien vessel that crashed on the ocean floor.

Crichton's musings have a tendency to be deeply speculative of the human condition, but without using language that alienates the audience. I can follow his line of thinking easily without getting lost.

This novel's plot takes a sharp left turn off the path I expected it to take, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just gave me an odd feeling. I wasn't sure how to anticipate what was coming. Shit got real weird real quick.

The conclusion of this novel was genuinely shocking. There were moments here and there where I felt authentic fear. I had the urge to keep looking over my shoulder even though the events taking place in the book didn't relate at all to what I was doing in real life.

But something was keeping me from investing in the characters. I just couldn't relate to any of them on a personal level, and I didn't much care who survived to the end of the book.

It's a well written piece of sci-fi, and definitely a novel that fans of the genre can enjoy. It doesn't compare to Crichton's Jurassic Park, but still a fun ride.
Profile Image for Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader).
388 reviews1,234 followers
June 6, 2018
“You look so unhappy right now.” That is a quote from my boyfriend about my face while reading this. I fell asleep while reading this. In the middle of the day. It also took me almost three months to read. Safe to say, I did not enjoy it. I absolutely love/loved Jurassic Park (who doesn’t) so I was really excited to dive into my second Michael Crichton book. Boy was it a let down.

I’m not going to lie, the writing was really good, the science was fun and the characters were likable but boy was the plot L A M E. I thought this was going to be some upside down, interdimensional travel, alien attack story but it was far from it. It dragged on forever and when the action finally started it was really unimpressive. REALLY unimpressive. I didn’t feel the same suspense I got from Jurassic Park, but then again it’s Jurassic Park so..

I did like that this book was focused on Psychology and that it explored the shadow self, but I thought I was going to be on the edge of my seat. Which I was not. I was half asleep. That being said, what I really love about Michael Crichton’s books is that he makes science really fun and explains it in a way that someone who isn’t scientifically inclined, AKA me, can understand and really enjoy it. I could also laugh at science-y jokes like I knew what was going one which made me feel smart and cool.

So even though this one was a bust I’ll still check it his other books. Jurassic Park awakened my intrigue for Sci Fy and I’m sure he has another spine tingling gem out there.
Profile Image for Carrot :3 (on a hiatus).
254 reviews73 followers
December 26, 2022
4.5 stars.

Damn, this was a trippy novel. I watched the movie when I was little but it turns out that I don’t remember much.

This was very fast paced and I never really got bored as it always kept me on edge with new revelations throughout. I gotta say, this novel was written way ahead of its time- 35 years ahead of time to be exact. I’d probably believe it if someone said this was released in the last five years because it still felt super modern.

I liked how this was narrated in the pov of a psychologist with psychoanalysis being a major part of the narration. I loved all the speculations and the science/psychology in the book.

0.5 stars less because of the prose. I don’t know how to say this but Michael Crichton is good at writing monologues on scientific theories yet sometimes the conversations between the characters or the interactions felt off.

This is the kind of book where I’ll think about the scientific speculations mentioned for a long time to come.

Great concept, great execution- best read when you have an itch for techno mystery thrillers.

Check out my instagram!
Profile Image for Margaret Taylor.
Author 5 books13 followers
March 22, 2017
A black man, a white man, and a white woman all get the power to warp reality to their will. The black man and the white woman can't handle the power and nearly get the group killed. The white man saves the day by being more emotionally stable than them.


I don't think Michael Crichton meant Sphere to come out sounding that way, but his characters are so paper-thin there's nothing left of them but their stereotypes.

Norman Johnson, professor of psychology, gets called in by the Navy to investigate a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean. The downed plane turns out to be a spacecraft. Because of Norman's previous work on group dynamics, the Navy has given him the job of keeping the crew from freaking out in the face of alien life. Norman and a team of scientists he hand-selected go to a deep-sea habitat to investigate the wreck.

Some of what happens next is spoileriffic. Suffice to say that whoever comes into contact with a certain sphere gets reality-warper powers. It involves time travel.

For the first few chapters, I found Crichton's prose refreshingly sparse. After a while it gets wooden. Check this out:

Norman suddenly felt overwhelmed. He sat on his bunk, holding the notebook in his hands. Finally he looked at a couple of pages, filled with Ted's large, enthusiastic scrawl. A photograph fell onto his lap. He turned it over. It was a photo of a red Corvette. And the feelings just overwhelmed him. Norman didn't know if he was crying for Ted, or crying for himself, because it was clear to him that one by one, they were all dying down here. He was very sad, and very afraid.

Crichton doesn't explore the implications of the magic sphere in nearly as much depth as he could have. Why aren't characters inundated with pink elephants when they desperately try not to think about them? Why can't characters imagine their way out of problems? The only thing the power seems to do is throw monsters at the habitat.

The plot runs on the characters' terrible decisions. When the Navy learn that a typhoon is bearing down on the site of the wreck, which isn't going anywhere, they hasten to send the characters to the underwater habitat just in time to trap them down there. When jellyfish of an unknown species swarm the habitat, one of the Navy officers decides it's time to go for a swim. Somebody rigged the habitat with a deadman's switch that takes away their only means of escape unless they press a button. On the outside of the habitat.

That's not even what bugs me the most about this book – it's the three main characters, Harry Adams, Beth Halperin, and Norman.

Harry isn't that bad. He's actually competent, and when his powers get the best of him, it's because of normal human fears. And it's gratifying to see him survive.

I like women villains. I know real women can be any one of sex-obsessed, power hungry, manipulative, hysterical (Crichton literally uses this word), incompetent, and bitter. But why is Beth all of these things? And she never misses a chance to mention she's a woman?

Crichton's description of her is disturbing:

Beth, with her lack of self-esteem, her deep core of self-hate, had gone inside the sphere, and now she was acting with the power of the sphere, but without stability to her thoughts. Beth saw herself as a victim who struggled against her fate, always unsuccessfully. Beth was victimized by men, victimized by the establishment, victimized by research, victimized by reality. In every case she failed to see how she had done it to herself.

I don't know what message Crichton is trying to convey here, but I think he had a bone to pick with somebody.

Norman's a schlub. The problems with the mission are largely his fault – it was his job to pick a team of scientists who would be unlikely to crack under stress. He picks a team of scientists with low stress tolerance who all hate each other. When consequences follow, he doesn't feel remorse. He just rescues Harry and the hysterical Beth because he can handle the sphere-power better than them.

I think the problem here is that Crichton was trying to write a book about emotions … and he sucks at it. It's telling that he equated emotions with space aliens in this book. He tried to get into his characters' heads and instead knocked things over. I was rooting for the giant squid.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michael.
4 reviews4 followers
January 28, 2008
Read this when I was in high school, and was one of the few times I've been up nearly all night reading, saying to myself every hour, "I need to go to sleep," but then couldn't put it down. The movie adaptation was atrocious, so don't judge this story based on the film (I always pictured Ted Knight in the role of Ted, not Liev Schreiber [though Mr Schreiber is a talented actor]). The story has a very tense, claustrophobic feel, and rightly so, as the characters are trapped at the bottom of the ocean.

One of my all-time favorite quotes about learning vs. experience: "Do you want to understand how to ride a bicycle, or do you want to get on and start riding?"

A very fun read.
Profile Image for Murf the Surf.
24 reviews50 followers
September 23, 2016
Do you all remember how great the Andromeda Strain was and how us baby boomers were hooked therefore on Crichton's future endeavors, however unscientific and implausible his writings became? Being a science, SciFi, and computer geek, I ate up any dish he served. I believe many of you were not that impressed today with his writing, and have missed a lot because of the movies instead. I truly enjoyed this book and could easily see how a movie would be made someday in the future. Since this review was done post mortem, let's just agree that he had a big future and influence on furthering Hollywood's endeavors with the SciFi genre. Peace, Murf
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,964 reviews668 followers
February 2, 2020
Five civilian experts were selected to join a small Navy crew to the south Pacific. They were to explore a spacecraft at a thousand feet depth that had crashed over three hundred years ago.

This was such a fun sci-fi thriller. It gives you claustrophobia induced experience of being in an underwater habitat - a damp, confined space. It also has the psycho factor, Normaaaaan. It gives me the creeps. The ending, though, was not what I had expected.
Profile Image for Vickie.
189 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2022
Another fantastic read by Crichton! Kept me turning the pages and loved the setting, atmosphere, and sense of dread. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,079 reviews2,939 followers
May 29, 2021
3.5 Stars
As I would expect from Crichton, this novel was filled with compelling scientific ideas wrapped into a page turning mystery. I liked the mystery more than the actual reveal. I just personally didn't want the story to go in that direction. Regardless I still enjoyed the novel and look forward to reading through more of his work.
Profile Image for Ova - Excuse My Reading.
474 reviews365 followers
July 3, 2018
Oh I liked this book!
The psychological thriller combined with sci-fi: an excellent mix!

Can't wait to watch the movie adaption now.

A spacecraft is found underwater...There is a sphere inside it. A group of scientists are sent to investigate but of course, strange things start to happen. Tense and gripping.
Profile Image for Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣.
651 reviews401 followers
November 6, 2016
Well, I had no idea there was a Sphere book. I only saw the movie and thought that was it. Not to mention that the book is written by the same author as Jurassic Park.

A group of American scientists are rushed to a huge vessel that has been discovered resting on the ocean floor in the middle of the South Pacific. What they find defines their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently, undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old...

Both the book and the movie have the same ending. But the journey to get to that ending is quite different at times. So if you only watched the film, or you only read the book, I think you should give the other version a try. I liked them both.


The nature of the sphere itself remains a mystery, and I'm pleased and disappointed with that at the same time. I'm pleased because not everything has to explained, and disappointed because I really wanted to know whether it was an alien being or just a machine.
Profile Image for Richard.
984 reviews357 followers
July 29, 2016
I'm reading Nick Cutter's upcoming horror novel The Deep right now and it's reminded me of how much I enjoyed Sphere, Michael Crichton's best novel. It was my favorite book when I was a kid. I remember what a page-turner it was and how much the tension kept ratcheting up until it was unbearable. I remember the plot being extremely clever as well, and how much of it was dependent on less of the sci-fi aspects and more on the characters themselves. I read it so much when I was younger, the book fell apart. But I'd love to read this again to see if it holds up!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
June 21, 2013
One of the first books I ever read, and will always hold a big place in my heart. There's always room for .
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
642 reviews78 followers
April 18, 2020
This was an exciting and very fast-paced read, and for the most part I enjoyed it. It was my first time reading anything by Crichton, although I had watched the Jurassic Park movies several years back.

The story opens with our main character, a psychologist named Norman, being flown to a remote location in the Pacific Ocean where he expects to encounter a plane crash with survivors that need counseling. Instead, he finds that he’s going to be part of a team of scientists who will be going more than 1000 feet down to the ocean floor to investigate a large, mysterious object that is believed to be an alien spaceship.

The story unfolds in a very movie-like way, or at least it kept reminding me of the horror movies I enjoyed in my youth, around the same time this book was published in 1987. Not so much because it was scary, although there were some creepy and tension-filled moments, but because of the story-telling techniques. The main characters all have very distinct and rather cookie-cutter personalities, and they naturally clash with each other in their cramped and isolated environment. There are various twists as the plot unfolds, some of which I found obvious and some of which I didn’t. There’s a sense of tension almost from the beginning that slowly mounts and mounts, and naturally

As I mentioned, I don’t think this is really a scary story, but there was definitely tension for me as I read it. Part of it was the underwater environment which for some reason tends to creep me out, more so than stories set in space where the atmosphere-related dangers are similar. There was also often a “noooo, don’t do that!” feeling when characters did things that weren’t always necessarily stupid, although sometimes they were, but that I was sure would lead to a bad end.

The story had some gender and racial stereotypes that made me uncomfortable at times, in part because I wasn’t sure what the author was trying to say, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to raise awareness of how the stereotypes and prejudice that people can be inundated with may harm (generic comments, but might be kind of spoilerish if one were planning to read the book soon) .

So it wasn’t without its issues. There were some eye-rolling moments, and I wasn’t too crazy about the end, but I think mostly I just enjoyed being so absorbed by the book while I was reading it.
Profile Image for W.
1,185 reviews4 followers
December 8, 2020
Michael Crichton's books can be hit or miss affairs,this one was definitely a miss.

An alien vessel crashes on the ocean floor.It is a three hundred year old spaceship. How many times has a similar idea about aliens and space ships been used in science fiction and in movies,I've lost count.

A team of scientists is assembled and put in harm's way to investigate. Crichton's characters seem pretty one dimensional to me.It is hard to distinguish one from the other.

One by one the scientists start popping off. After that,it is supposed to be a psychological thriller.But I really couldn't care much. However,the story did have a claustrophobic feel to it.

Disappointing and underwhelming.
Profile Image for Clare.
73 reviews7 followers
April 21, 2018

Characters: 4/5
Although it was sizable cast, each character had such a distinctive and memorable personality. The book to some extent was about how these different personalities would react in a crisis situation, and overall, I think Crichton did a good job fleshing that out.

Plot: 4/5
The plot was well-paced, and had enough mystery and intrigue to keep it compelling. It certainly had some twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, and it was fun to see that unfold.

Writing style: 3.5/5
As interesting as the characters and plot were, there wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about the writing itself. I don’t know how much of it is due to Crichton’s style or to the nature of the sci-fi genre, but the writing was simple and straightforward. None of that flowery, descriptive language that I’m used to reading in fantasy books. On the plus side, it did make for an easier and faster read.

Entertainment: 4/5
Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first when a friend insisted I read this book. I don’t usually do sci-fi, let alone a mysterious alien spaceship in the middle of the ocean. But for my first Michael Crichton novel, I was pretty satisfied overall. It was different from what I usually read but certainly a welcome change of pace.
Profile Image for Chris Dietzel.
Author 27 books401 followers
November 8, 2018
The first half of 'Sphere' is probably the greatest thing Crichton ever wrote. The amount of plot twists, each superbly executed, is excellent. However, the second half of the book falls apart as it becomes a different type of story than the first half. Still a very good read and one of Crichton's top five best books, but I just found myself wishing the story could have unfolded at the same high level from the first page to the last.
Profile Image for Matt The British Reader.
146 reviews36 followers
October 8, 2022
“Do you want to understand how to swim, or do you want to jump in and start swimming? Only people who are afraid of the water want to understand it. Other people jump in and get wet."

I've recently started reading (and re-reading) a lot of Michael Crichton's books. He wrote Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain and many other classics. All I can say is “wow.” Sphere might be one of my favorite fiction books of all time. It's suspenseful, fast-paced, and impossible to put down!

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a huge spaceship is discovered resting on the ocean floor. And, most startling, it appears to be at least 300 years old. A group of explorers are given a mission to discover what it is, and why it's down there. But one disaster leads to another. And very quickly, things spiral out of control...

I loved this book. Will definitely buy the paperback version at some point for my future library.

Five stars.
Profile Image for Christøpher is Globetrotting.
91 reviews14 followers
March 29, 2023
If you're like me, you appreciate modern techno-thrillers such as Project Hail Mary because they're cleverly designed theoretical science books that masquerade as taught action thrillers. In the case of Sphere by Michael Crichton (the master of the genre), it warms my heart that we can have a book with real human emotion in one chapter and spend the next chapter waxing poetic on astrophysics and oceanography. Sure, the book satisfies the inner thrill seeker, but to me, the most exciting bits have to do with tangents on psychology, space, medicine, and the nerdy first contact bits. If you enjoy mission-based, high-science thrillers, this might be for you.

// A team of scientists is summoned to investigate the remains of a ship in the murky depths of the ocean. Everything goes awry when they find a sphere. What is it, and more importantly, how do they communicate with it? //

You’re probably thinking, "Oh no, another run-of-the-mill, deep sea exploration novel with corny dialogue and a ho-hum ending." This is not that, by a long shot. What we do have is a team consisting of an astrophysicist, a marine biologist, a zoologist, a mathematician, and a psychologist. As you can imagine, the team is at odds with each other over how to proceed with the discoveries they make in the deep blue sea. It gets kind of hairy because the habitat that they reside in is only set up for them to survive for a few days, and when communication gets cut off to the surface, it becomes a fight for survival.

** In my eyes, Sphere does three things especially well. **

1. It creates a setting that is on the cusp of reality and stages it with a believable cast of characters. They may not be right for the job, but they use their unique skills and training to make the best of the situation.

2. The team often makes decisions based on logic rather than emotion. It is not at all robotic, though; some people might not be themselves, while others might act a certain way because they have skin in the game.

3. The impact of their decisions is not inherently clear. As far as you know, nobody is trying to save the world or prevent some sort of disaster. This is a fact-finding mission where the stakes are subtle, giving the story a chance to breathe.

// You always have an option. There is always something you can do. You are never without choice. //

I will not delve into spoilers, but I had a grand time trying to figure out what was going on in the murky depths. Once the sphere is brought to the forefront and you have an understanding of what is going on, other strange occurrences start to happen. The habitat is seemingly changing its layout, others seem to be losing their wits, and some crew are even becoming much more beautiful as time rolls on. Weird!

// "Myths had once represented the common knowledge of humanity, and they served as a kind of map of consciousness." //

I thoroughly enjoyed the ending. It has one of those winks to the reader that makes you smirk at its cleverness. It’s definitely a 5-star rating for me, and like I said before, if you like Blake Crouch and Andy Weir books, this will definitely be up your alley. Just like Jurassic Park and Congo, this is sci-fi at its best.

──∗ ⋅◈⋅ ∗── Extra 📝’s ──∗ ⋅◈⋅ ∗──

●○ BIG fan of people-on-a-mission plots. The serious or the cheesy variety.
●○ I wrote, "My fave Crichton book at the end." - Not sure if this is a knee-jerk reaction or not, but I'll have to read it again in the future to nail that statement down.
●○ Brains over brawn.
●○ It is not as dense as Andromeda Strain. It moves along at a pretty high clip.
●○ Insanely great ending.
●○ “It is not length of life, but depth of life.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

──∗ ⋅◈⋅ ∗── 🎵 Music queues 🎵 ──∗ ⋅◈⋅ ∗──

●○ Starset – Otherworldly.
●○ Peter Frampton – Show Me the Way.
●○ Fjord – Blue.
●○ Iron Maiden – The Prisoner.

──∗ ⋅◈⋅ ∗── 5 ★'s ──∗ ⋅◈⋅ ∗──
Profile Image for Victor.
2 reviews
February 20, 2008
Words cannot express the contempt I harbor for this book.
My hatred for it knows no boundries. There are few pieces of literature that I cannot come to appreciate in some way, even fewer that compel me to demand the time back that I spent reading it so that I may do something more productive like piss on the third rail.

It was rather suprising, considering Michael Crichton has published some excellent work. I guess he pulled this one out of his ass while drunk/high/stoned/oncrack/bordering on suicide.
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