In the Ocean of Night : Galactic Center

  • by Gregory Benford
  • Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield
  • Series: Galactic Center
  • 12 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It is 2019. NASA astronaut Nigel Walmsley is sent on a mission to intercept a rogue asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Ordered to destroy it, he instead discovers that it is actually the shell of a derelict space probe - a wreck with just enough power to emit a single electronic signal.
In 2034, a reply is heard. Searching for the source of this signal, which comes from outside the solar system, Nigel discovers the existence of a sentient ship. When the new vessel begins to communicate directly with him, the astronaut learns of the horrors that await humanity. For the ship was created by an alien race that has spent billions and billions of years searching for intelligent life… to annihilate it.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Like some Space with your Soaps?

What would have made In the Ocean of Night better?

Less hype in the publishers summary and more truth.


What was most disappointing about Gregory Benford’s story?

The premise sounds rather intriguing and is why I purchased this with my monthly credit however, the actual content feels more suited to day time soaps than it does to Science Fiction.
The main protagonist is somewhat interesting but the author spends so much time delving into the day to day life of Nigel that the main thrust of the story is lost in the minute of a menage à trois, instead of concentrating on the real story which is the intelligent ship that is approaching Earth.
After 4 hours of persevering through Nigel's domestic situation and having no emotional connection to him at all I gave up in frustration. I'm all for setting the scene and developing a world that the reader is going to inhabit for sometime (read Jack Vance Lyonesse I and then fell in love with Lyonesse II & III) but this just didn't do it for me. I prefer some soap with my sci-fi, not the other way around.


What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Mr Caulfield did a fantastic job with the characters and a wonderful job of flipping between Nigel's soft English tones and the harsher American of the other characters. Not much more he could have done.


What character would you cut from In the Ocean of Night?

I'm not sure it's case of excising character but rather concentrating on the main story and enhancing/developing that further and involving more people around that story rather than Nigel's. I just couldn't connect with him and we are meant to.


Any additional comments?

I'm sorry but if this is what is in store for the rest of the series then I will be staying far far away from anything by this author. Others may find him enjoyable but I certainly did not.

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- Bradley "Let the Wookiee win."

Very Different from "Hunger for the Infinite"

After listening to the novella by Gregory Benford, "Hunger for the Infinite," I was intrigued and ready for more of the same universe. This novel is very different. It is very slow moving and for much of the first half focuses strictly on main character Nigel and his "triad" relationship with Alexandria and Shirley. I was hoping for a little more science fiction, but patiently listened through Nigel's ups and downs with his lady loves. The lingering back story seems to be Nigel's struggle to over come politics within NASA and finally discover something real and true about the universe.

I was waiting for the "science fiction" part to dominate the "dramatic" part, and it doesn't really happen until the end of the first half. The creepy robots of Benford's novella have not shown up yet in Nigel's world, but he begins to get a sense of their presence. The entire novel is a build up to the idea that robotic life dominates the universe and that organic life is rare. My favorite character in the novel is actually the "snark", an automated craft that has been sent by these as of yet unseen robotic forces, to sniff out organic life. The snark does not know why it exists but only behaves as it has been programmed to behave. In its discussions with Nigel, there are some of the most interesting passages of the book. The snark drifts eternally through the "ocean of night" and finds its only fulfillment through learning about organic life forms.

I was disappointed that this novel was so different from "Hunger for the Infinite," but I enjoyed it anyway. Its slow and thoughtful, with no real gripping action or suspense, but contains some captivating musings about mankind and our relationship to the universe. I will continue with the series to see where it leads.
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- Michale "Looking for complex, believable characters, an engaging storyline, and good narration! Fan of sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, and horror."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-01-2012
  • Publisher: Audible Studios