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Grand Central Arena

(Grand Central Arena #1)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  611 ratings  ·  60 reviews
It was supposed to be a simple test flight, one that pilot Ariane Austin was on only as a last-ditch backup; intelligent, superhumanly fast automation would handle the test activation and flight of humanity's first faster-than-light vessel. But when the Sandrisson Drive activated, every automated system crashed, the nuclear reactor itself shut down, and only the reflexes a ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 671 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Baen (first published 2010)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  611 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sky jockeys and sensawunda junkies
Recommended to Alan by: rec.arts.sf.written
With Grand Central Arena, Ryk E. Spoor hits precisely the target he was aiming at. This paperback's lurid cover promises, and its sprawling 671 pages deliver, pulp science fiction: larger-than-life characters, jaw-dropping settings and super-science spectacle, both evocative of and explicitly dedicated to E.E. "Doc" Smith, the early sf giant and creator of the Skylark of Space.

And it's a page-turner. Spoor knows how to start a story— in medias res , that is—and keep it moving. From the single-se
reread August 2013 as the earc of 2nd book Spheres of Influence was released; original thoughts below in the full FBC rv

update 2013 - on this reread I enjoyed the book even more than on the original read and now i am definitely classifying as a top 25 as it wore the 3 years and hundreds of read books much better than many other books that i may have rated better on first read; excellent stuff, old/new space opera and great characters

hope this series will go on for a while as it has scope and spa
Coyora Dokusho
I just finished reading... THE BRILLIANCE

stayed up till four

clapped my hands in glee after the end

fist pumped in victory whenever I took a break

it was that good

I want the next one... but if I start reading I won't sleep at all... but I wants it... but I have stuff to do!!! ARGH Why are you so good book?!? Whyyyyyyyyyyyy? ;_;
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is so close to a five. Great book.

‘Grand Central Arena‘ by Ryk E. Spoor is exactly the sort of book I expect from Baen. Substantial, sweeping, sprawling, however you want to describe it. BIG! Big ideas, bold characters, mind-bending science and really cool aliens all packed inside a bright and colourful cover. Set in a future on the cusp of FTL travel, this novel takes an intrepid band of adventurers and thrusts them into the unknown. I love these sorts of books and this is exactly the rea
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Big silly fun space opera. Yes, this was reading for when I had absolutely no processing power to spare for something else, but it gave me exactly what I was looking for - did what it says on the tin. Lots of action, lots of aliens, "science" mysteries, new-world rules to learn, arena challenges, problems-solved-by-clever-application-of-speculative-technologies, characters in over their heads and emerging victorious anyway, and so on. Basically, a modern take on throwback pulp, but why would you ...more
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
This is not Doc Smith fanfic. No, it's fanfic of every SF work published in the 70s and 80s. (The author happens to be a Doc Smith fan, but that's irrelevant, except for the character named Marc DuQuesne. There's an explanation. The explanation is that the author is a Doc Smith fan.)

So humanity invents FTL, and the first starship lands smack in the middle of _Eon_ crossed with the Well World crossed with any given RPG milieu handbook. Then follows 600 pages of discovering the environment, the al
Jeffrey Grant
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn’t review this back during my first read-through, but it had been a while since I read this so I forgot a lot of the details. After this second read-through I find myself agreeing with my initial four-star impression.

The book takes place in a far future human civilization where the solar system is largely colonized, semi-sentient AIs are ubiquitous, and some humans are pushing the envelope and starting to play around with consciousness transfers. Enter the first experiment into FTL travel
Don Priest
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it
A decent first-contact story, though not a patch on titles like "Footfall" or "The Mote in God's Eye". The characters are interesting, and the setting is fun (not least because it justified the suspension of normal physics, allowing all sorts of tricks to play out). My only real complaint would be the inclusion of a bio-engineered superhuman. It can hardly feel fully like a story about how great and surprising humans are when one of the primary representatives for mankind is, by his own admissio ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
Not sure I'm going to bother finishing this. Not very far in but it doesn't seem like the kind of science fiction I like. I like the sort where the author has deep thoughts and insights about humanity and society and chooses science fiction as a template to showcase how they work. This seems to be the kind where the characters and plot exist mostly to showcase the wow-holycrap-cool technology the author thought up. Which has little pizzazz for me as I do not understand or care about any non-biol ...more
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
An interesting concept with very vivid and imaginative world building. While the arena was fascinating, I had a hard time getting through the book in parts due to the limited amount of action. I found it a little slow going in parts and had to struggle to keep going. The characters were interesting but I had a hard time imagining them as real people. The two main male protagonists seemed older than their ages and their wooing of the main character seemed awkward. I did like the main character an ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Experimental starship takes human crew to a sort of pocket universe that has been set up for inscrutable reasons to trap thousands of would-be starfaring races and have them socialize and, sometimes, fight duels. Part RINGWORLD, part STAR WARS, and the prose reminded me of early Frank Herbert---books like WHIPPING STAR and UNDER PRESSURE. Cast is stocked with characters who have alien forms but understandable motives and psychologies. Very good fight scenes, but a little too much interior mullin ...more
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Pilot Ariane Austin joins the crew of the first manned ship to attempt to break the lightspeed barrier. The first "jump" takes them to a large enclosed space containing a model of the solar system.

The characters are bland and too quickly introduced. They are all great at their jobs except for the one who is blatantly foreshadowed to have a hidden agenda. The technobabble is grating.

I really tried but I couldn't finish this one.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly good, begs for a sequel. A bit too melodramatic in my mind, and the first part is a bit intimidatingly 'trans human gadgetry' focused. But that rapidly clears up and the adventure, fighting, and mystery works well.
Ken Rhines
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good ol' space opera, competent good guys overcoming overwhelming odds to emerge victorious. I'm usually ambivalent on the fight and battle scenes, but Spoor had my heart racing. Just what the doctor ordered!
Aug 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, sf-2010
This alien megastructure / alien diplomacy space adventure feels like a minor classic of 60s SF (comparing favorably with Laumer, White, Schmitz, etc.), though it includes more current AI/nanotech motifs as well. It's short on depth and long on exposition, but that aside, it's a blast.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've been reading Ryk Spoor since Digital Knight, and I thought GCA was his best book yet. As a big fan of the late "Doc" Smith, I loved the shout-out in DuQuesne, who was the character that really stole the show for me.

If you like old-school space opera give this one a shot. It's fun.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had my doubts going in, but this turned out to be a fun read. It hearkens back to an older style of SF...pulpy, fast-moving, and fun. Plus, I have to admit a certain bias...any book that includes even a version of Marc C. DuQuesne has already gone a ways toward winning me over.
Apr 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A grand sci-fi adventure in the spirit of the 'golden age' of sci fi to which it pays homage. I especially encourage any fans of E.E. 'Doc' Smith to give it a try. A very fun read with plenty of thrills and spills. I'm a big fan of Ryk Spoor's novels, and this latest was no exception.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
A pulpy, fun read. Really wish more of the bigger questions were answered, though. Was also hoping that humanity had evolved to be 'lucky', like Teela Brown in the Ringworld series.
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great read. Classic space opera style.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
boring beginning, AWSOME follow up
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: space-adventure
I haven't enjoyed a space adventure like this in a while.
Geoff Schaeffer
Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good old-school sci-fi. I'd read another set in this universe.
Dan'l Danehy-oakes
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was read under less than ideal conditions: most of it on airplanes travelling from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, and from there to San Francisco; the rest was read at home, while slightly less exhausted.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the heck out of it. It's a hoot and a half.

Spoor wears his influences on his sleeve, naming a character Marc C. DuQuesne (and giving him an even stronger link than the name to the source character). This is old-fashioned space opera, except without any actual space battl
L. Rambit
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- Where I first heard of it: Sursum Ursa's Review
- Where I (legally) downloaded it (for free): Baen Books

"My survival is not my body, Amas-Garao. My survival is my freedom. I do what I will, because I will it."
Golly, this one took me a long, long time to finish. I've been working on it in fits and starts since last year.
When I first tried to read this, it barely held my attention. That's at least partially my bad: in a world where you can speed youtube videos and audiobooks up, my attention
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Man, what a romp! This book is perfect for bedtime reading after grueling hours at work.

A small, diverse crew embarks on a flight in an FTL ship and finds itself fast approaching a wall upon reentry into 'normal' space. Fortunately the pilot is an experienced and highly skilled racer whose abilities are marshaled to avert collision.

The crew finds itself within a construct of the solar system, which is connected to constructs of all other star systems of all other alien races to have achieved FT
Charles  van Buren
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exciting action after a slow start, June 30, 2017

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This review is from: Grand Central Arena (Kindle Edition)

Grand Central Arena is a fast paced, action novel which begins slowly as Mr. Spoor goes into some detail as to how the FTL drive works, the backgrounds of the characters and the building of the world into which the characters are inserted. That world is much like a fantasy game in which various species compete for advancement via challenges. There is speculatio
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: y2018
The author says that E.E. "Doc" Smith was a strong influence, and it shows throughout. But not in a bad way. I had some reservations when one of the most obvious references appeared, but it was redeemed thoroughly when we found out his origin.

Well worth reading for any fan of grand ideas and references to "Golden Age" Sci Fi.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

So nice to read a full length, complete book for a change. And one that is actually a new twist on a space opera. New science, or at least old science with a new take. Even better when compared to the new ebooks that aren't really stand alone, but half, or less, of a whole story. Thanks Ryk. I'll be reading more of your books.
John Davies
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I might come back to this book once I've got through my to be read list, but at the moment, it's not a high priority to finish this book. I just couldn't get into the characters, or the plot. There was just too much going on and i couldn't take it in.
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Grand Central Arena (3 books)
  • Spheres of Influence (Grand Central Arena #2)
  • Challenges of the Deeps (Grand Central Arena #3)
“It’s the old elephant hunter joke, where a guy asserts he’s the local elephant hunter, you respond that there aren’t any elephants around there, and he, of course, says ‘Yeah, see how good I am?” 2 likes
“My survival is not my body, Amas-Garao. My survival is my freedom. I do what I will, because I will it.” 0 likes
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