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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.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to In the Ocean of Night the most enjoyable?
I have to confess that I've read Benford before, and his writing efforts are consistently very good reading/listening. In this case, I accidentally read Great Sky River first a number of years ago, and it is a strong hard tech scifi read that sweeps you along to its great conclusion. That being said, I walked into this audiobook listen with high expectations, and wasn't disappointed! It reads different, because it takes place prior to the third book, and is in a completely different environment. So, it was a great experience, and my expectations were well met. Thanks, Benford, for a solid scifi series I already knew was great before I started the very first book.
What was one of the most memorable moments of In the Ocean of Night?
I won't answer this question. I don't often give away parts of a good read. This is a great series, so I'll plead the fifth on this one.
What does Maxwell Caulfield bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
He's a good narrator, but I'll want to hear his performance on the rest of the series, and then I'll update this review. It's only fair to give him his proper due.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
An unending galactic war is about to begin, and it waits...for YOU.
Any additional comments?
Enjoyable. Well paced. Strong plot. Solid character development. Captivating story. Nuff said. Get the audiobook.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
If you accept the usual failings of near future fiction not being able to predict digital cameras, email, instant messaging, the internet and multi-function mobile phones and just accept this is a character and plot driven story, then it fills its role as an entertaining and gripping novel with something to say about humanity and its position in the universe. Benford is a scientist, so we get the usual tropes of scientist=good, administrator/government/religion=bad, but that doesn't detract from the overall essence of a good yarn told well. I'm looking forward to the next episode.