Half Life

  • by Hal Clement
  • Narrated by Nick Sullivan
  • 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Seventy-five years from now, the human race on Earth is in trouble - perhaps even facing extinction - because of the rapid evolution of diseases. A crew of young men and women travel to the moons of Saturn to investigate the biochemistry of the pre-life conditions there in the slim hope of discovering something that might save Earth. Nearly half of them have died on the way when the book opens, for they all have incurable diseases, doing most of their exploration with virtual-reality machinery. They race to find answers across the surface of an alien landscape with death close behind... and gaining. Half Life is pure hard SF adventure, and Clement is the best. Half Life is his first novel in this decade and very much upholds his own high standard - this is one of the hard SF novels of the 1990s.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Science Fiction for the Purist

Half Life is science fiction, it is a sub-type called ‘hard science fiction.’ This type of science fiction has many facts and plot points rooted in real physics. This has the effect of the story sounding very technical at many points and Half-Life is no exception. There is a grunch of chemistry in this novel. The general thrust of this novel is: humans are dying and a small group of researcher are investigating the possibility of life on one of the moons of Saturn, Titan, in the hopes of discovering some helpful knowledge for people back on Earth.

The plot unwinds very, very slowly. It is only within the last hour of an 8 ½ read when the tension starts to build. Even the occasional death leaves you unmoved. The plot and its resolution is weak with listless characters that are near impossible to connect with. A story’s ending resolution should be able to judged positive or negative from the main characters viewpoint – this ending was mixed. There was no main character and no obstacle character in this work per se. If you think hard, you can scratch a couple of messages the author is trying to convey, but he misses the mark in my opinion.

The narration by Nick Sullivan also fell way short of my expectations. There was not a great deal of inflection or emotion infused into the reading. Even his voice choice he chose for the computer, Status, sounded more like one of those bad computer text-to-speech synthesizers. There was not a great deal of differentiation between the male and female voices. His narration just didn’t get the job done.

This novel will definitely not appeal to today’s Star War, Avenger, Spider Man, Underworld crowd. It is more esoteric and is an acquired taste of the super hard-science crowd. I no doubt think that if you are on the look-out for a fact heavy chemistry sci fi who-done-it, then Half Life will be for you. For me, it didn’t turn my crank.
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- G. House Sr. "I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction."

Really heavy hard science

What made the experience of listening to Half Life the most enjoyable?

I liked that it was so densely scientific. I liked be stretched to understand what was going on in regards to the science of Titon.

What did you like best about this story?

That the book gave a glimpse into what the future could hold in our own solar system. How traveling and living in space could be like. I also liked looking over the shoulders of the scientist characters in the book.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Another listener mentions that the reader doesn't make a huge difference between male and female characters and that did cause some slight problems, but the author's writing made the characters clear enough.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No extreme reaction, just deep enjoyment. I wanted hard science and I was not disappointed.

Any additional comments?

My only fault with the book is I don't know who I could recommend it to. It is so densely scientific that it doesn't make for a light read and I don't know anyone who could really enjoy it as much as I did. :)

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- Teresa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-24-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios