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In the Ocean of Night: Galactic Center, Book 1 | [Gregory Benford]

In the Ocean of Night: Galactic Center, Book 1

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….
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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.

©1972, 1973, 1974, 1977 Abbenford Associates (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (169 )
5 star
 (36)
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 (51)
3 star
 (43)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.3 (151 )
5 star
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Story
3.7 (149 )
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  •  
    Michale Baltimore, MD, United States 07-19-12
    Michale Baltimore, MD, United States 07-19-12 Member Since 2009

    I prefer intelligent, complex stories with deeply developed characters. I'm not a fan of most popular novels; my taste is more eccentric.

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    "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.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sanford 05-19-13
    Sanford 05-19-13
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    "Colossal waste of time"
    What disappointed you about In the Ocean of Night?

    Its reliance on some kind of odd religion. It was like being back in the 60's with people in white robes passing out tracts.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Gregory Benford again?

    No


    What does Maxwell Caulfield bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He is an excellent reader. He draws you into the story


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

    All of them


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your money or time. I finally was unable to finish it and removed it.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael New Orleans, LA 07-02-12
    Michael New Orleans, LA 07-02-12 Member Since 2006
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    "A Grand Opening For An Epic Series"
    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
  •  
    Bradley Australia 05-15-12
    Bradley Australia 05-15-12

    Let the Wookiee win.

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    "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.

    26 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 03-11-14
    Michael G. Kurilla ROCKVILLE, MD, United States 03-11-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Slow start to a longer story arc"

    Benford's In the Ocean of Night is the 1st installment of a 6 part series originally published in the 1970's. The significance is that the theme deals with alien contact and machine intelligence so the story has a primitive quality today that comes naturally from inherent limitations of its perspective of that time. The story centers around an astronaut who discovers an alien artifact believed to be an errant comet about to strike Earth. He next identifies another alien artifact as it enters our solar system a few years later and makes contact with the onboard AI. Finally, he is brought in to investigate what appears to be an alien artifact buried on the moon after an apparent thermonuclear device that may be another alien artifact on Earth detonates. Against this background, there is a religious movement with unclear motives that comes to dominate politics.

    While quite popular in its day, probably due to its unique take on alien first contact, the tale suffers from underdeveloped characters. While the main character seems mostly adrift, supporting characters get extremely short shrift that makes their motivations and reactions quite uninterpretable. The fascination with BigFoot may have also been unique to the time period when the book was written which does not gel well today. By the end, it just wasn't clear what the author was trying to relate and the conclusion was far from satisfying. As an intro to a longer story arc, this is a disappointing appetizer.

    The narration is good with a solid range of voices and good pacing with a tone suitable for the overall tenor of the tale.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Yakima, WA, United States 02-13-13
    Joe Yakima, WA, United States 02-13-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Good concept, but rather dull, well read."
    What disappointed you about In the Ocean of Night?

    It was much more of a philosophical treatise than a sci-fi story. Even the action scenes were kind of banal. If you like philosophy and societal analysis, it's not bad.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Either Empire by Larson, or The Twelve by Cronin.


    What aspect of Maxwell Caulfield’s performance would you have changed?

    A touch more emotion in the reading would help a bit, but overall, I think he did well with what he had to read.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from In the Ocean of Night?

    Some of the sex, which added little to the theme, and much of the non-alien interactive scenes. We all know the frustrations of bureacracy in our lives, shorter mention of it would suffice.


    Any additional comments?

    Given the age of the book, he did a good job with astronomics and possible habitats. It was ironic that he raised the question of how NASA could take something as exciting as the space program and make it dull, when he did the same.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Javier 12-16-12
    Javier 12-16-12 Member Since 2006
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    "BORING!!"
    What disappointed you about In the Ocean of Night?

    It gets into too much detail about the personal/sexual life of the protagonist, and too little about the aliens.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Gregory Benford again?

    Maybe, but I'm doubtful.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N Oakleigh South, Australia 08-18-13
    N Oakleigh South, Australia 08-18-13 Member Since 2011
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    "2nd rate sci fi"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Make the story interesting, not a plodding story , make it interesting and unpredictable, with interesting convincing sex scenes.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Any book but one by Gregory Benford.


    Any additional comments?

    An uninteresting plodding story, ordinary and predictable, with boring unconvincing sex scenes.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julius Butcher 09-02-14 Member Since 2011
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    "I wish I liked it"

    When I purchased this title I made a mistake: I didn't check the date of the first publication. The audio book was published in 2012. Into one third of the story I started to suspect that the original book is older than my daughter, and later my suspicion was confirmed by mention of microfilms used in 2034. I should have known better to check the reviews more thoroughly before buying it. In the Ocean of Night was born in 1972. Almost as old as me. It's not that I'm against old books, but I pick them only if I want to be nostalgic. Otherwise I prefer books of this century.

    The story, however, started well, right into hard science fiction, astronauts discovering an alien artificial asteroid. Just what I wanted. But then the author made me jump fifteen years, to arrive into the daily life of the astronaut who made the first contact. The family setup was interesting, I must say, a blossoming triangle of a man and two woman, enjoying the threesome love-life. Besides that, a family drama unfolded in front of me, with the sadness of one of the partners having cancer. Oh, as a subplot, some slow development happened concerning an alien automated spaceship called Snark passing by. But not much.

    The story seemed to speed up when the Snark started to communicate through a medical implant, and resurrected the said partner. I thought "yes, real science-fiction, finally". It didn't last long, though. The alien spaceship left the Solar system running from a missile. Why, of course the US government had to shoot at it, it's standard Hollywood procedure.

    Then there was the wreck of another alien spaceship on the moon, which almost caused the death of the character who stumbled in its shield by chance. Space accident. Fight for life. Good stuff. But then jump again, and now I was discovering the alien ship's computer. Oh, the ship lowered its shield sometime in between, but I never learned how and why. Anyway, there was the promise of hard sci-fi again. But what I really got was description of dull images downloaded from the alien computer. Boring. I wondered why the scientists didn't go exploring the ship. Yes, they told me that it was dangerous, and they had plenty of time, it wasn't going anywhere. Serious? It was an alien ship, for god's sake!

    And then came Mr Itchino (I hope I spell it right after hearing), who went to play being a hermit in the woods on the hillside. But only after that I had to listen to all the wonders of singing birds and landscapes he was amazed of. Did I mention boring? After an agonizingly long time he finally learned about the secret of the mountain: Bigfoot existed. No kidding. Mr Grave saw them, they shot at him with their laser gun.

    By this time I listened to the audiobook at x1.25 speed to get over it quicker. I still had my hope that there will be an amazing ending. False hopes.

    Mr Walmsley suddenly was sucked into the alien computer, and the aliens told him everything he wanted to know, and he told me some of it. While chopping wood on the hill. For Mr Itchino. In an elevated mental state. All of these spiced with a high literature writing style, which was odd, because it didn't match the previous part of the book.

    I almost forgot to mention the religious sect of the New Sons. I'm still wondering what was the author's purpose with them.

    I found the cover copy misleading. In the Ocean of Night promised me so much, but definitely failed to deliver. John Scalzi would be able to write this story in thirty pages, and still find the room for a little sarcastic humour of his.

    Some reviewers say that the next books in the series are better. I wouldn't know. I won't buy them. I go to listen to an Alastair Reynolds book instead.

    The narrator did an excellent job, certainly I would listen to books he reads.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffery Bel Air, MD, United States 04-25-14
    Jeffery Bel Air, MD, United States 04-25-14 Member Since 2007
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    "A bit slow paced for my taste."
    What did you like best about In the Ocean of Night? What did you like least?

    Good: Very interesting ideas, it seems well through through. I had to listen in bits.

    Bad: Very slow paced and many times over analytical. I got bored at times, but the book had my rapt attention at other times. If I find a time where none of my other series have a new book out or I'm looking for something slower paced, I might buy the next book.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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