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Cradle

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In 1994, the Marines test a new missile. After launch it mysteriously disappears. If it reaches civilian areas they'll be in big trouble. Carol Dawson, a journalist, is alerted by an unusual sight of whales in the Miami area & decides to write about it. Armed with equipment provided by her friend, Dr. Dale Michaels from the Miami Oceanographic Institute, she goes to invest In 1994, the Marines test a new missile. After launch it mysteriously disappears. If it reaches civilian areas they'll be in big trouble. Carol Dawson, a journalist, is alerted by an unusual sight of whales in the Miami area & decides to write about it. Armed with equipment provided by her friend, Dr. Dale Michaels from the Miami Oceanographic Institute, she goes to investigate the rumors of a missing missile that could be behind the mysterious whale behavior. She hires the services of Nick Williams & Jefferson Troy, boat owners, so she can get to the Mexican Gulf to investigate. They find an unknown artifact. They have doubts about its nature, hoping it's part of a lost treasure. Old friends of Williams & Troy notice their discovery & want to steal it. In the story's background, the authors describe a submarine snake civilization on a planet called Canthor, & how they struggled to stay alive despite threats to their ecosystem. It's revealed that the artifact is actually a cradle that contains seeds with altered superhumans extracted from Earth millions of years ago & altered so they could live with other species--including the submarine snakes--on Earth. The spaceship that carries the cradle is manned by robots/cyborgs & has hidden itself on the ocean floor to make repairs. Dawson, Williams & Troy are asked to gather materials so the ship can be repaired & return to its mission. The ship...


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In 1994, the Marines test a new missile. After launch it mysteriously disappears. If it reaches civilian areas they'll be in big trouble. Carol Dawson, a journalist, is alerted by an unusual sight of whales in the Miami area & decides to write about it. Armed with equipment provided by her friend, Dr. Dale Michaels from the Miami Oceanographic Institute, she goes to invest In 1994, the Marines test a new missile. After launch it mysteriously disappears. If it reaches civilian areas they'll be in big trouble. Carol Dawson, a journalist, is alerted by an unusual sight of whales in the Miami area & decides to write about it. Armed with equipment provided by her friend, Dr. Dale Michaels from the Miami Oceanographic Institute, she goes to investigate the rumors of a missing missile that could be behind the mysterious whale behavior. She hires the services of Nick Williams & Jefferson Troy, boat owners, so she can get to the Mexican Gulf to investigate. They find an unknown artifact. They have doubts about its nature, hoping it's part of a lost treasure. Old friends of Williams & Troy notice their discovery & want to steal it. In the story's background, the authors describe a submarine snake civilization on a planet called Canthor, & how they struggled to stay alive despite threats to their ecosystem. It's revealed that the artifact is actually a cradle that contains seeds with altered superhumans extracted from Earth millions of years ago & altered so they could live with other species--including the submarine snakes--on Earth. The spaceship that carries the cradle is manned by robots/cyborgs & has hidden itself on the ocean floor to make repairs. Dawson, Williams & Troy are asked to gather materials so the ship can be repaired & return to its mission. The ship...

30 review for Cradle

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brett Jobling

    Even 25 years after it was first released, this is a turd that is still steaming. It took me four months to read this drivel (i read about 6 other decent novels in that time). I've read Arthur C Clarke before and i'm a fan - but this atrocity was completely bereft of the vision/prophecy and fascinating SCIENCE that he brings to Sci Fi. So i can only blame Gentry Lee who is credited as 'co-authoring'. Surely ACC only leant his name to boost sales? The plot is inane, the characters ridiculous, the Even 25 years after it was first released, this is a turd that is still steaming. It took me four months to read this drivel (i read about 6 other decent novels in that time). I've read Arthur C Clarke before and i'm a fan - but this atrocity was completely bereft of the vision/prophecy and fascinating SCIENCE that he brings to Sci Fi. So i can only blame Gentry Lee who is credited as 'co-authoring'. Surely ACC only leant his name to boost sales? The plot is inane, the characters ridiculous, the writing juvenile, and the sex scenes (oh dear, the sex scenes) sounded like they were written by someone who was trying to imagine what it might be like to have sex. I accuse you, Gentry Lee, of writing this entire crock of excreter. How plead you Mr Lee? One star - out of 100.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (needs a break from reviewing)

    Read for the 2017 POPSUGAR Challenge prompt 'A Book with Multiple Authors' 6/3 - I think this may be up there with the worst books I've ever read. Most of the books I give one star to are because of their atrocious editing, off the top of my head I can't remember reading a book where the plot played such a big part in drawing the one star. The original premise sounded quite interesting - advanced aliens, and treasure hunters find their space ship on the ocean floor - but then someone went and ruin Read for the 2017 POPSUGAR Challenge prompt 'A Book with Multiple Authors' 6/3 - I think this may be up there with the worst books I've ever read. Most of the books I give one star to are because of their atrocious editing, off the top of my head I can't remember reading a book where the plot played such a big part in drawing the one star. The original premise sounded quite interesting - advanced aliens, and treasure hunters find their space ship on the ocean floor - but then someone went and ruined it and produced this pile of crap. Most other reviewers are blaming Lee (I hope it's not Clarke as I bought his 2001: A Space Odyssey series and I don't think I could read four entire books written like this), but as I haven't read anything from either of them I'm taking their word for it. The characters were ridiculously overwritten - a treasure hunter with an unnecessary back story of a love affair with a married older woman who broke his heart when he was young; an army man with an unnecessary back story about his pre-marital sexual escapades which somehow lead into his desire to bed his underage co-star in the community theatre production of Tennessee William's The Night of the Iguana (he plays Shannon to her Charlotte); a black man who was an embarrassing caricature of a black man from the south (constantly using the exclamation "Oooeee!" and never calling Carol by her given name, only 'Angel'); and a reporter who has the most annoying internal dialogue since Ana. There were a couple of totally dreadful sex scenes, one was so awkward I haven't felt so uncomfortable reading a sex scene since I finally finished Lolita last year while the other was a weird mix of awkward and clinical. The final nail in the coffin for this one was the aliens! They have to be the most inept 'advanced alien lifeforms' ever. They crash land their space ship in the ocean and when some humans (the main characters) finally happen across them by accident they request "An English dictionary and grammar, plus the same thing for four other major languages; an encyclopaedia of plant and animal life; a compact world history; a statistical tract defining the current political and economic status of the world; a comparative study of the world's major existing religions; complete issues covering the last two years of at least three significant daily newspapers; summary journals of science and technology, including surveys of weapons systems both deployed and under deployment; an encyclopaedia of the arts, preferably including video and sound where appropriate; forty seven pounds of lead; and fifty eight pounds of gold." That is the most illogical list of demands!! I'm assuming they want the gold and lead for some kind of 'repairs' to their ship (Troy was pretty vague with explanations using the excuse that despite the 'communications bracelet' they gave him he had trouble deciphering what they were saying), but why bother with all information about human language, history, and technology only to leave without using their new found knowledge to their advantage. If they weren't going to use it why did they want it? The type of information they wanted originally made me think they were going to use it to wage war against us, but in the end they just attempted to leave a 'seed packet' (why wouldn't an advanced civilisation like theirs realise what would happen if a foreign, more advanced species was introduced to the environment?) and then disappear back home with very little explanation. There were no redeeming features to this story. I would recommend it to no one, although I still can't bring myself to destroy it so I will be passing it on to some poor person (I'm sorry anonymous receiver of this book, it might be a dreadful book but it is still a book and I can't kill it) via my local Brotherhood of St. Laurence.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Felix Dance

    This book was totally unbelievable. I don't know what it is with Clarke in the 80s, but he just went psycho with his characters during this period (hard not to blame Lee really - alouthgh they were good in the Rama series). The first two thirds of this overlong novel goes into meaningless detail about the backgrounds of the various characters involved, and they're so formulaic - their personalities are derived from formulae whose only input are 'moving' emotional scenes from their past. It's as This book was totally unbelievable. I don't know what it is with Clarke in the 80s, but he just went psycho with his characters during this period (hard not to blame Lee really - alouthgh they were good in the Rama series). The first two thirds of this overlong novel goes into meaningless detail about the backgrounds of the various characters involved, and they're so formulaic - their personalities are derived from formulae whose only input are 'moving' emotional scenes from their past. It's as though the authors heard that sci-fis need 'character development' so they lifted a few chapters from a Mills and Boon novel. At least in the late 90s sci-fi authors began to realise that science and real people could actually coexist. Here a navy missile goes missing in the Gulf of Mexico and three treasure hunters, while looking for it, discover a ridiculously stupid alien spaceship under the waves. This one was read over the Ganges in Varanasi, but it did not engage me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This is a scifi novel from an author that I normally love. Unfortunately, this book was disappointing. The main plot, involving contact with aliens, was passable but boring. The side plots were ridiculous and unnecessary: adult video games, swinger treasure hunters, and so on. The characters were either two-dimensional or cartoonish. Also, the book seemed to serve as a vehicle for heavy-handed social commentary.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Devon

    Is this even science fiction? The aliens aren't necessary...swap them out for some ordinary motivating force and the story would be largely unaffected. And when Clarke focuses on the "sci-fi" part of his story, he bores me with unimportant minutia about the design of the alien ship. I can't believe I read the whole thing. Run away! Is this even science fiction? The aliens aren't necessary...swap them out for some ordinary motivating force and the story would be largely unaffected. And when Clarke focuses on the "sci-fi" part of his story, he bores me with unimportant minutia about the design of the alien ship. I can't believe I read the whole thing. Run away!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Gallup

    Considering his fame and the number of books he authored, it's surprising that I've had little exposure to Clarke. Like everybody in my generation I saw the film version of 2001 numerous times, and there was another novel of his (the title of which I cannot recall) that was in three parts. The first two parts fascinated me but the last was an utter let-down, seemingly written by someone else. [ Update: Just figured out that other book was by Asimov. ] Anyway, I decided it was time to sample his w Considering his fame and the number of books he authored, it's surprising that I've had little exposure to Clarke. Like everybody in my generation I saw the film version of 2001 numerous times, and there was another novel of his (the title of which I cannot recall) that was in three parts. The first two parts fascinated me but the last was an utter let-down, seemingly written by someone else. [ Update: Just figured out that other book was by Asimov. ] Anyway, I decided it was time to sample his writing again. Unfortunately, I should've chosen something other than Cradle. I believe my only reason for finishing it was that I'd picked up several other books recently only to put them down, having found them a waste of time. I don't like not following a book through to the conclusion, so muscled on in this case. Here's what I liked: the early questions about telemetry and software concerning a Navy missile that went off course, and the notion of interfacing with aliens who treat planets such as Earth as something to be cultivated in a benevolent way. The parts I liked could have been distilled into 50 pages. The rest was given over to development of characters who do not belong in respectable literature. The only character with any appeal is Troy, the witty first mate of the charter vessel, and even he has unnaturally wooden dialog and reacts to events in ways I could not accept. I think now that I shouldn't have spent the time on this one, either.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Easily one of the worst books I've read in years. Maybe if I read this when it first came out in 1989 and I was 13, I would have found the gratuitous sex scenes titillating. As it was, I found them distracting from what little "plot" there was. The entire book was laced with racism and misogyny. Sure one of the main characters is a woman and one is black, but the authors can't seem to go 5 pages without waving a little flag saying "Hey, we have a main character who is a woman, and one who is bla Easily one of the worst books I've read in years. Maybe if I read this when it first came out in 1989 and I was 13, I would have found the gratuitous sex scenes titillating. As it was, I found them distracting from what little "plot" there was. The entire book was laced with racism and misogyny. Sure one of the main characters is a woman and one is black, but the authors can't seem to go 5 pages without waving a little flag saying "Hey, we have a main character who is a woman, and one who is black!" To be fair, part of the problem is that the book is horribly dated. Characters drink 12 beers then jump in their car to drive to meetings and...that's it. Apparently in the 80s, drinking and driving was perfectly acceptable and did not incur consequences. In setting the story only 5 years in the future (so in 1994, based on the book's publishing date), we can see just how short Clarke falls on his futurism. People have floppy disks piled high on their desk (sort of accurate for the time) and talk to each other on their picture phones (not at all accurate for the time). At least there are no flying cars. My bet is the authors were hoping the book would be picked as a low-budget movie. It reads more like a script for a C-movie than a serious science-fiction novel.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Horrible book from beginning to end. Full of unnecessary sexual innuendo, shallow characters, poorly developed science fiction. Not a single admirable protagonist in the bunch, even though they were meant to be. One character spent 60 pages of the book in pedophilic fantasies, which played no role in the story whatsoever except to tantalize the reader with verbal pornography. It's clear that Arthur C. Clarke supplied some of the basic plot premises, and Gentry Lee did most of the writing. Horrible book from beginning to end. Full of unnecessary sexual innuendo, shallow characters, poorly developed science fiction. Not a single admirable protagonist in the bunch, even though they were meant to be. One character spent 60 pages of the book in pedophilic fantasies, which played no role in the story whatsoever except to tantalize the reader with verbal pornography. It's clear that Arthur C. Clarke supplied some of the basic plot premises, and Gentry Lee did most of the writing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Irina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I picked this book with a lot of enthusiasm as a die hard fan of Arthur C Clarke, however all the enthusiasm died soon. The first 200 or so pages read like a thriller at best or a very bland romance at worst. When it finally picks up the pace and you can see some scifi shining through it is too late and all the motivation to read it is out on the window, flying into the distance. The few scattered scifi pages before the big break through of the alien rendezvous with humans feel like an Arthur C I picked this book with a lot of enthusiasm as a die hard fan of Arthur C Clarke, however all the enthusiasm died soon. The first 200 or so pages read like a thriller at best or a very bland romance at worst. When it finally picks up the pace and you can see some scifi shining through it is too late and all the motivation to read it is out on the window, flying into the distance. The few scattered scifi pages before the big break through of the alien rendezvous with humans feel like an Arthur C Clarke read, but the rendezvous itself reads like a cheap story (an intelligent carpet like robot, really, how random is that?). Not to mention the many useless details on the characters' lives, or sex lives (am I the only one disturbed by commander Winters first killing a kid, then injuring one, then having perverted thoughts about that teen girl??)...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Cradle is a first and unsatisfying collaboration by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee. It is an uninspiring treatment of a well-worn Sci-fi topic: first contact via an underwater oceanic alien hideout. Cradle also introduces readers to the rougher, more promiscuous writing style of Gentry Lee. Clarke has plenty of sexuality in his novels, but he usually spares readers the juicy details. I would have enjoyed this novel more if Clarke and Lee had taken the story completely to the ocean. The too-brie Cradle is a first and unsatisfying collaboration by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee. It is an uninspiring treatment of a well-worn Sci-fi topic: first contact via an underwater oceanic alien hideout. Cradle also introduces readers to the rougher, more promiscuous writing style of Gentry Lee. Clarke has plenty of sexuality in his novels, but he usually spares readers the juicy details. I would have enjoyed this novel more if Clarke and Lee had taken the story completely to the ocean. The too-brief passages describing alien oceans on far off worlds are wonderful. Instead, a great deal of time is spent on land, with the authors attempting character-driven plot. Inasmuch as Lee was a fledging novelist, this was a weak choice. Whole chapters feel like a bad made-for-TV movie about treasure-hunting. Still, I have a positive spin to offer. I'm a big fan of Clarke and Lee’s Rama trilogy, which all sources agree is mostly Lee’s writing. My guess is he learned a thing or two on this mediocre outing, paving the way for a better-constructed saga based on Clarke’s masterwork Rendezvous With Rama . Many Clarke fans will disagree with my sentiments; however, I think Lee (who shows a love of great literature in his writing) is worth the time of day.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I was expecting more, having read the 2001 series, so was very disappointed. Not a very well-written book, reads more like an author's first book than one from an experienced team. The plot was very contrived with convenient coincidences moving the plot along. There was a surprising amount of sexual suggestions in the book, this was completely unnecessary and slowed the book down. There were a number of details and plot lines in the book that were unnecessary, serving only to slow down the pace I was expecting more, having read the 2001 series, so was very disappointed. Not a very well-written book, reads more like an author's first book than one from an experienced team. The plot was very contrived with convenient coincidences moving the plot along. There was a surprising amount of sexual suggestions in the book, this was completely unnecessary and slowed the book down. There were a number of details and plot lines in the book that were unnecessary, serving only to slow down the pace of the book or to set up some near-superhuman task the character would achieve later. The "futuristic" technologies described in the book including Kindle-like reading tablet and Skype video conferencing were interesting but not enough to save the book. The whole "aliens" theme was disappointing and derivative of the Foundations series.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paintbrush

    I was greatly disappointed with this book. I almost can't believe that Arthur Clarke had anything to do with it! The writing was trite and the majority of the book's subject matter was a cross between a bad romance and a simple adventure story. I was greatly disappointed with this book. I almost can't believe that Arthur Clarke had anything to do with it! The writing was trite and the majority of the book's subject matter was a cross between a bad romance and a simple adventure story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Vasicek

    I disliked this book. The whole thing about the sex problems of the commander were not needed and in poor taste. Did nothing for the book. I felt the book was generally not well done, disjointed, poorly written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    contains the worst sex scene ever written

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bumpy

    Possibly the most boring book I've ever read. Possibly the most boring book I've ever read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim Swike

    I read two thirds of the book before something interesting happened, and the ending screams sequel. I would pass. Maybe you will fell differently. Enjoy!

  17. 5 out of 5

    KayW4

    My goodness, the obsession with women's bodies! It totally gets in the way of what could've been an enjoyable, light sci-fi read. But the authors are so invested in reminding the reader that each female character is a Lady with Lady Parts that I sort of almost wished there had been no female characters at all - at least then the authors could've got on with telling their alien artifact story. The funniest part is how whenever two female characters are in a scene together they immediately get pit My goodness, the obsession with women's bodies! It totally gets in the way of what could've been an enjoyable, light sci-fi read. But the authors are so invested in reminding the reader that each female character is a Lady with Lady Parts that I sort of almost wished there had been no female characters at all - at least then the authors could've got on with telling their alien artifact story. The funniest part is how whenever two female characters are in a scene together they immediately get pitted against each other in rivalry over something to do with their looks (oh my god Carol is nearly thirty, how is she still even alive). It really reads like it's written by a fairly young male person who has had, shall we say, extremely limited exposure to adult social and intimate interactions. Add to that the equally egregious inability to see non-white people as, you know, people (I mean the black character continually whistles "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" like for real), and what you end up with is a story so badly told that it'd be funny if it weren't so boring. I guess all I'm trying to say is that this book is a great example of how incredibly detrimental these prejudices are to the sheer "fun" quotient of a book of this kind. It shouldn't try to be Virginia Woolf, but it should try to tell an entertaining and maybe even thought-provoking science fiction story. But the authors' weird hang-ups get in the way at pretty much at all times. I've quite enjoyed some Clarke collaborations in the past (I didn't hate his book with Stephen Baxter, and the one with Frederick Pohl was ok too) - but this one is just shockingly bad.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Starri Steindórsson

    absolute crap, gave up

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hawks

    http://www.saltmanz.com/blog/2006/11/... Yesterday (11/02/06) during lunch, I finished my most recent book: Cradle, by Arthur C. Clarke and Genry Lee. This is same team that wrote the last 3/4 of the Rama series (following Clarke's standalone classic, Rendevous With Rama). Those were good books. Cradle, which was written a couple of years before the Rama sequels, is not. Not that it's a terribly bad book. I was entertained for almost all of the 408 pages. But I'd never read it again. The book is ba http://www.saltmanz.com/blog/2006/11/... Yesterday (11/02/06) during lunch, I finished my most recent book: Cradle, by Arthur C. Clarke and Genry Lee. This is same team that wrote the last 3/4 of the Rama series (following Clarke's standalone classic, Rendevous With Rama). Those were good books. Cradle, which was written a couple of years before the Rama sequels, is not. Not that it's a terribly bad book. I was entertained for almost all of the 408 pages. But I'd never read it again. The book is basically a character study on the 3 protagonists, with the odd chapter of sci-fi alien stuff thrown in every hundred pages or so. Contrary to most reviews I've read, I actually found the characters engaging, and the sci-fi bits to be clunky and confusing. What little plot there is involves Carol (a reporter) hunting down a lost Navy missile somewhere off the Florida Keys. To do this, she charters a boat run by Nick and Troy. They go diving and find something odd, butt heads with some rival treasure hunters, and try to avoid the Navy. It's not as exciting as it sounds. Every main character has had one emotionally-traumatic experience in their past, and the authors take a chapter or two out of the story to replay this. Most maddening is the Navy Commander: his personal life and problems are dwelt on perhaps more so than any of the protagonists, and yet he has almost zero impact on the story. At first, the dialogue felt forced an unnatural, but either it got better, or I just grew accustomed to it. The aliens' side of the story is told in 3 or so single-chapter chunks, spaced out regularly throughout the book. But they're confusing, written in terms that manage to sound advanced yet wholly generic at the same time, and go on far too long for the scant information they provide. Eventually, near the end of the book, there's interaction between the aliens and the main characters, but you can already tell that there's not enough book left for anything to really happen. And it doesn't. The book even manages to end abruptly, after dragging on and on, plot-wise. No resolution or denouement; just the climax, and then "The End". Heck, my copy ends on the back of the last page, which means I hit the last sentence in the book, and then: back cover. Rather jarring, to tell the truth. Like I mentioned earlier, though, the characters were decent. Even if they were annoying or artificial-feeling to begin with, I got wrapped up in their adventures and cared about what happened to them, even if their stories didn't actually go anywhere. I won't likely ever read this again, and I can't in good conscience recommend it. I'll give it 1.5 out of 5 stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I always assumed that Shaun Hutson's Slugs would be the worst book I ever read. People being chased and caught by ferocious, man-eating slugs was sufficient to break my usually robust suspension of disbelief.However, Cradle was bad in a whole different way. I don't mind character development in science fiction, but the clumsy attempts at it in this novel are just embarrassing to read. A typical chapter could be paraphrased by: Steve turned away from the courgette-shaped alien. Suddenly he was fif I always assumed that Shaun Hutson's Slugs would be the worst book I ever read. People being chased and caught by ferocious, man-eating slugs was sufficient to break my usually robust suspension of disbelief.However, Cradle was bad in a whole different way. I don't mind character development in science fiction, but the clumsy attempts at it in this novel are just embarrassing to read. A typical chapter could be paraphrased by: Steve turned away from the courgette-shaped alien. Suddenly he was fifteen years old again, vividly reliving a traumatic experience; probably one involving a courgette. Sex was probably involved too. When the memory ran out of narrative flow he realised he was sad. 'I'm so sad,' he thought, sadly. Then he kicked a puppy lest anyone saw through his tough-guy exterior and realised he just wanted to dance.The author(s) feel obliged to point out the deep, psychological reasons behind each barb the two main characters exchange, until fifteen pages from the end when these two admit to each other what terribly hackneyed characters they are and hook up. Despite hating themselves and one another. Worse, most of the 368 pages in the book are made up of this stuff, the actual science fiction is crammed into three brief 'interlude' chapters and some barely developed scenes toward the end. After discovering an alien spacecraft during one of these rare late scenes the protagonists are remarkably nonchalant, occasionally remarking that the whole thing feels like a science-fiction book. At this point I couldn't help but imagine the two authors nudging me and winking, proclaiming "Because it is a science-fiction book, geddit? Geddit?!" Ah, forget it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mario

    Not even mediocre at best. It's a book written by two people, and it shows. The bulk of the book is a boring, typical Crichton-like thriller/adventure story. Woven between -- sometimes in nearly incomprehensible separate chapters, sometimes as jarring asides -- is the actual sci-fi content. Unfortunately, the earth-based sci-fi was written for the future of twenty years ago and it has not aged particularly well, but it may have been better contemporaneously. The alien-based sci-fi is overly deta Not even mediocre at best. It's a book written by two people, and it shows. The bulk of the book is a boring, typical Crichton-like thriller/adventure story. Woven between -- sometimes in nearly incomprehensible separate chapters, sometimes as jarring asides -- is the actual sci-fi content. Unfortunately, the earth-based sci-fi was written for the future of twenty years ago and it has not aged particularly well, but it may have been better contemporaneously. The alien-based sci-fi is overly detailed for the limited explanations the reader actually receives. Clark took the "you couldn't understand the tech, so I won't come up with an explanation" route, but he still takes an awfully long time to tell you nothing. What's worse is that those chapters are written from the alien perspective (they still use nano- and milli- prefixes though, somehow), so they are even harder to understand than should be necessary. They make references to millicycles, for instance, which is clearly some length of time but you are not given enough information to decipher how long it is until almost the end of the book (14 years, by the way). There was an idea behind what the aliens were up to, but it remains philosophically unexplored. There was never any real resolution to any of the earth-based plot lines, but I wouldn't have enjoyed reading any more anyway.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Whiskey

    Carol Dawson, Miami Herald reporter, is the main character. Forceful and independent, she conceals her sexual relationship with Dr. Dale Michaels of the Miami Oceanographic Institute. She frequently reacts to sexist attitudes or comments of Nick Williams, owner of the boat she charters in order to scan the seafloor for a missing Navy missile. She relates more warmly to Troy Jefferson, a young black electronics whiz and computer programmer. Eventually, she allows herself more open exchanges with Carol Dawson, Miami Herald reporter, is the main character. Forceful and independent, she conceals her sexual relationship with Dr. Dale Michaels of the Miami Oceanographic Institute. She frequently reacts to sexist attitudes or comments of Nick Williams, owner of the boat she charters in order to scan the seafloor for a missing Navy missile. She relates more warmly to Troy Jefferson, a young black electronics whiz and computer programmer. Eventually, she allows herself more open exchanges with Nick Williams, but she always harbors a fear of becoming emotionally close to a man — a fear she traces to her parents' divorce and her father's departure when she was very young. The memory of that loss limits her willingness to commit herself to another person in a mature relationship. Nick Williams has the boat and the diving skills necessary for helping Carol Dawson, but Williams frequently objects to Dawson's control of their relationships, both in the business aspects and the personal aspects. The scanning equipment Carol Dawson has borrowed for the search is unfamiliar to both of them, yet they quibble over its installation and use. Hurt by a past love affair with a wealthy wife of a fur dealer (who was usually gone for long periods), Nick Williams is defensive, even chauvinistic towards women. Ten years before, Monique had led him into exotic ecstasies until he realized he was simply a current toy whom another socialite offered to pick up when Monique's husband returned to the Florida estate. It is Nick Williams who compromises some of the results of Dawson's undersea search because he has drunk too much and embroils himself in a brief tussle with a pair of naval intelligence officers at a night club. Yet, it is Nick Williams, too, who has the foresight to return to the alien ship the gold trident that cradles the seeds for improved species of earth creatures — including an improved strain of humans. He argues that the human race as it is should be allowed to continue to learn from its challenges and grow to its potential rather than to be put into a secondary status by an improved super race. Troy Jefferson is the bright, self-educated electronics and programming genius nearly crushed by the early violent death of his older brother. He interacts well with Nick Williams and Carol Dawson personally, and his knowledge of electronics and diving are important to the development of the plot. He is the one kept longest in the submerged space ship by the aliens and is the one told what information and materials the aliens need. Thus, he plays a vital role in advancing the plot. The video game he is programming, besides being X-rated, is ethnically sensitive, giving different responses to a player depending on the player's race. Jefferson is the target of racist comments by Ramirez, one of the Navy lieutenants investigating Carol Dawson's activity. However, since he and his girlfriend are the only significant blacks in a story involving mostly white characters, Jefferson serves only to "raise the consciousness" of a reader. He does not seriously struggle with racism as an obstacle himself, nor does his race cause any significant change in the attitudes or actions of the other characters. Troy Jefferson's girlfriend Angie Leatherwood is a successful pop singer. Her career has taken off, so she has fame and money that Troy himself has not yet achieved, although his video game has potential. The pair are in love but are separated by career interests, so the relationship is subdued. Captain Homer Ashford and his bodybuilder assistant, Greta, serve as modest villains for the story. Formerly partners with Nick Williams and others in a venture that discovered a sunken treasure ship, Ashford and Greta managed to steal and hide a major portion of the gold. They suspect Carol Dawson may have found another trove and interfere with her efforts both subtly and violently. Williams and Jefferson, however, find the gold Ashford has hidden and spirit away enough of it to meet the needs of the aliens. The evils which Ashford and Greta embody, thus, are sufficient to provide some conflict in the plot but are not significant enough to draw important retribution. Other antagonists to Carol Dawson, Nick Williams, and Troy Jefferson are Navy Commander Vernon Winters and his bumbling lieutenants, Todd and Ramirez. While Winters is in charge of the investigation of the loss of the Panther missile, his character serves more to explore struggles with a conservative and pietistic view of God. Winters is one of the pilots who bombed Muammar Qaddafi's compound in Libya in the 1980s, and he carries crippling guilt over the death of Qaddafi's little daughter. He also undergoes a midlife crisis and guilt over his attraction to Tiffani Thomas, an appealing teenager who plays his love interest in the closing scene of a local theater production. Todd and Ramirez directly interfere with Carol Dawson's search, suspecting that she and the others are cooperating with the Russians in an effort to find the lost missile. The two young officers enact a stereotypical crudeness in their interrogations and pursuits, but ultimately learn nothing from their exposure to the aliens. However, Commander Winters, once he sees and recognizes the scope of the alien technology, resolves his guilts and conflicts in a doxology. The marvels of the universe shown to him he takes as God speaking to him once more after a prolonged silence. In Winters's characterization, Clarke allows scientific discovery and even contact with aliens to be interpretable from a literalistic religious perspective.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scythan

    Nothing much interesting happened in this book. I liked the premise: an alien civilization is preparing to drop a "seed" of some sort on Earth, using the planet as a preserve for certain species, one of which is a superior strain of Human. However, this book reads more like a biography, with every major character thinking a whole lot about their past without it impacting the story line much, if at all. I was bored, and would have stopped reading if it weren't for the fact that I was waiting for Nothing much interesting happened in this book. I liked the premise: an alien civilization is preparing to drop a "seed" of some sort on Earth, using the planet as a preserve for certain species, one of which is a superior strain of Human. However, this book reads more like a biography, with every major character thinking a whole lot about their past without it impacting the story line much, if at all. I was bored, and would have stopped reading if it weren't for the fact that I was waiting for a good or surprising ending, which didn't happen either.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Kingston

    Easily the worst Arthur C Clarke novel. The characters are unbelievable and the plot is ridiculous - alien beings who can travel galactic distances but require an Encyclopaedia and some Gold in order to leave Earth. This would have made a good kids book were it not for the pointless (and trust me, I'm not prudish at all) sexual content. Easily the worst Arthur C Clarke novel. The characters are unbelievable and the plot is ridiculous - alien beings who can travel galactic distances but require an Encyclopaedia and some Gold in order to leave Earth. This would have made a good kids book were it not for the pointless (and trust me, I'm not prudish at all) sexual content.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Blech. I expected a lot more. I finished because I have this affliction where I feel the need to finish books. The writing is very school boy-ish. Way too much time spent on women's bodies and how attractive or unattractive they were and the 43 year old man hooking up with a 17 year old? Gross. I wanted a sci fi adventure but I got the first draft of a B movie screenplay. Blech. I expected a lot more. I finished because I have this affliction where I feel the need to finish books. The writing is very school boy-ish. Way too much time spent on women's bodies and how attractive or unattractive they were and the 43 year old man hooking up with a 17 year old? Gross. I wanted a sci fi adventure but I got the first draft of a B movie screenplay.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James

    Clarke cannot write women. I could not finish the first chapter. It killed me. Also, he seemed to spend all his time trying to predict the future of technology, with lengthy descriptions of every advance he wanted to predict.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Isabel (kittiwake)

    Unfortunately, while this book has an interesting premise, the characterisation is pathetic. The way people in this book talk and think is totally unbelievable. I gave up on it well before the 100 page point.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Noah Fiedel

    One dimensional, stereotypical characters. Pretty underwhelming plot. Trudged through to the end as it was an easy enough read, but no deep thoughts / insights / technology / sci-fi. Just a dull story about an alien visitor.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Orsi

    I give this book 3,5 stars. I liked it, it wasn't that bad. I understand why the majority of the reviews are so negative. It's not the typical Arthur C. Clarke book with a lot of sci-fi description it's a more relaxed and easy reading I give this book 3,5 stars. I liked it, it wasn't that bad. I understand why the majority of the reviews are so negative. It's not the typical Arthur C. Clarke book with a lot of sci-fi description it's a more relaxed and easy reading

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    The very worst part of this book was where a couple of the main characters show off their side-project of producing a pornographic full-motion-video computer game.

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