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Editorial Reviews

"Crichton keeps us guessing at every turn in his best work since The Andromeda Strain." (i>Los Angeles Times )

Publisher's Summary

A classic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton, Sphere is a bravura demonstration of what he does better than anyone: riveting storytelling that combines frighteningly plausible, cutting-edge science and technology with pulse-pounding action and serious chills. The gripping story of a group of American scientists sent to the ocean floor to investigate an alien ship, only to confront a terrifying discovery that defies imagination, Sphere is Crichton prime - truly masterful fiction from the ingenious mind that brought us Prey, State of Fear, and Jurassic Park.

Sphere was made into a film directed by Barry Levinson, which starred Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson.

©1987 CrichtonSun LLC. (P)2015 Brilliance Audio

Critic Reviews

"Ingenious and beguiling." ( Time)
" Sphere be Crichton's best novel, but even if it ranked only second or third, it would be a must for suspense fans." (i>Miami Herald)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,133
  • 4 Stars
    1,651
  • 3 Stars
    700
  • 2 Stars
    149
  • 1 Stars
    41

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,674
  • 4 Stars
    1,192
  • 3 Stars
    353
  • 2 Stars
    62
  • 1 Stars
    26

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,880
  • 4 Stars
    1,422
  • 3 Stars
    751
  • 2 Stars
    185
  • 1 Stars
    64
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sphere

Any additional comments?

Written by Michael Crichton way back in the mid 1980s, this unabridged audiobook edition was released in 2015 and is narrated by Scott Brick - about thirteen hours of listening.

If you’re looking for a written duplication of the movie, this is not gonna work for you! Although trite, I’ll say "The book is better."… and Hollywood’s twist completely messes with the story.

In a plot similar to Crichton’s Andromeda Strain, written in 1969, a diverse group of scientific people are brought together to what they all believe to be a plane crash in the mid-Pacific. A biologist, mathematician, astrophysicist, etc., in addition to Norman - the group psychologist and the lead character of Sphere, are tasked with determining what happened - and they are soon to understand, determining what exactly rests 1000 feet below the surface, since it is not an airplane. Crichton even repeats the physical examinations required to handle the sea habitats of Sphere as apposed to the bio-habitat of the Andromeda Strain. Albeit completely different stories, these initial fundamentals are virtually identical.

Sphere is a decent SciFi, written with the somewhat pedestrian style of Crichton. Not earth shattering prose, just good storytelling that will hold your attention. If you like SciFi or if you like Michael Crichton, you’ll enjoy. Author of such mega-hits as Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton died in 2008. His books are slowly moving into the SciFi classic category and are must reads for anyone interested in the genre. SciFi nerds will approve of considerable techno-babble detail and Crichton’s attempt at credibility.

Scott Brick does a terrific job, nice reading.

A fun listen.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH HARRY

NOT THE UNDERWATER HOLIDAY INN
Crichton, underwater habitat, space ship, STUPID ALIEN, black hole, time travel, giant squid, conspiracies, and a plethora of science talk, what more do you want? I am pretty sure you could not cram more Science Fiction goodness in one book and keep it so good. I loved the movie (with Dustin Hoffman), which is a little different and has great special effects and is very scary and I love the book. Very entertaining and like all Crichton books, you will learn something. This is a must read for anyone who wants to be considered well read in the Science Fiction Field. Scott Brick does a wonderful job.

66 of 77 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • waelse1
  • charlotte, nc USA
  • 03-01-16

Fun sci-fi page-turner

Very entertaining page-turner, it brings up interesting ideas about aliens, black holes, time travel. Mostly though it's about the characters and their struggles to deal with the menace and survive. Enjoyed it a lot.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Exciting even if you've seen the movie

What did you like best about this story?

I'm going to admit that I committed the ultimate sin and read the book because I enjoyed the movie rather than vice versa. Even though I knew the basic story I found the book suspenseful and exciting. The characters are better developed and more three dimensional in the book. Their motives were more understandable and their characters were more diverse.

Any additional comments?

Even though I will always enjoy the movie I feel like it did the book a disservice. The book gives more scientific explanation. The characters are more intelligent. Those touches made the whole world feel more believable. They were trapped for a reason. The manifestations all happened for a reason. The giant squid was a character in the book rather than a plot device. I loved it.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Every bit as underwhelming as the movie....

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Scott Brick was brilliant as always, but the story just didn't deliver. I saw the movie some 10 years ago, and thought it was a great idea that just didn't pan out. I figured it was a typical case of just being a bad adaptation of a highly touted novel. But no, the book just strings you along, making you think there would be this cool revelation about the sphere, only to give what feels like a cop out of an ending. I recommend pass on it.

53 of 66 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An exciting thriller at the bottom of the sea!

Norman Johnson is a psychologist specialized in how stress affects group dynamics. He is often called out by the FAA to help survivors of plane crashes and their families deal with the aftermath. So when he's escorted by the US Navy out to the South Pacific he assumes a plane has crashed into the ocean.

It turns out to be something far stranger.

Once upon a time, a younger Norman, desperate for grant money, wrote a report for the government about how to handle first contact with alien intelligence. He said abject terror would be the result when humans were confronted with the unknown. Now, he is about to put his hypothesis to the test. A thousand feet beneath the ocean, something has been found. A craft that has been down there for at least 300 years.

A team of scientists, recommended by Norman, and a group of navy personal are tasked with uncovering what is and, if anything is alive, how to communicate with it. Staying in cramped quarters, surrounded by the crushing depths of the sea where a small mistake could get them all killed, the pressures are incredible. Can Norman keep the group functional when the discover the Sphere lurking in the heart of the craft?

Crichton's Sphere is an interesting take on the first contact with aliens story. It's told from the psychologist point of view and it delves into many aspects of emotional reactions and Jungian's theory of the shadow self. Personalities conflict and clash. The unknown lurks around them, affecting them all as they struggle to understand just what they have discovered.

And that's before things start going weird. Cricton goes a great job setting up the mystery and how it affects the characters. The answers for the story are found if you read carefully. But that's not what the story is truly about. It's about how people handle stress and how they can rise to the occasion, or break beneath the strain. It's about what people can do when they're taken to their limits. The Sphere, the mystery of it, is merely the catalyst around which Crichton has penned this excellent character study.

One of my favorite Crichton novels, blending suspense, emotion, and wonder with a pervading miasma of dread hanging over everything.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars

Undersea life

Loved being propelled into life at 1000 feet under the sea. The mix of people on this navy experiment allow me to explore several scientific studies through the characters that were on the trip. Narration was excellent. Kept me fascinated through out the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite books ever!

What did you love best about Sphere?

Never a boring moment. Scott of course is impeccable. A change from the ordinary.

Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've listened to many of Scott Brick's reads. This is a ten for sure.

Any additional comments?

This is like a move. I hope to see one.
Off now to look for another Chricton book!

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

I made it about 5 hours in, just couldn't listen any more. Nothing happens, bunch of in fighting and boredom. Had to move on.

28 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent science-fiction

The story was incredible. It was extremely captivating. I loved it!. The performance was excellent as well. I did not give a full five stars simply because I reserve those very carefully. Other than that, I totally recommend this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 02-25-16

Buy Crichton a thesaurus!

Interesting story ruined by overuse of the word "said".
Sounds silly and might not be as noticeable when reading the book, but when someone is narrating it to you it becomes very noticeable and annoying. After every bit of dialogue the author uses "said" . Never "ted asked" or "Beth suggested" "Harry quipped " "Norman gasped" etc ... Just "Said"

During conversations between two or more people it is almost unbearable-
Ted said
Harry said
Beth said
Harry said
Ted said
Ted said
Harry said
Beth said
Ted said
Ted said
Ted said
Ted said
TED SAID!!! Wouldn't be as bad if the guys name wasn't Ted!

I started calling the book "what Ted said" out of frustration. Honestly how this was overlooked by the editors is beyond me.
It's my first Crichton book and it will be my last I think. I was expecting better from someone as lauded as him but I found the below GCSE English level of the overuse of "said" to be very poor and unimaginative, if the narrator hadn't done a decent job of putting some life into the characters words then you wouldn't get a feel of how the characters were talking at all.

As mentioned, the book has a very interesting plot, let down by some strange choices to make the scientists come across as smart one minute and quite dumb the next ( scientist studying marine life , knows a lot about snakes but didn't know who Medusa was ) and the unimaginative, emotionless and lazy use of "said"

Ted said
Ted said
Ted said......

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • JC
  • 02-12-17

Very Poor Performance

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A great story, by a great author, unfortunately completely ruined by a very boring monotonus reader performance.

How could the performance have been better?

By being read by someone completely different

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • D. Ross
  • 08-08-16

Sphere

A story with interesting potential, well read but spoiled by the over use of "said" as remarked you other reviewers

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Eva O'Donnell
  • 09-24-16

Nope.

Nothing anybody does makes any sense. There are long, pointless, circular conversations, but unfortunately Crichton doesn't know any verb to indicate speech other than 'said.'
There's no real tension, no real insight into characters' motivations, and no satisfactory explanation for their irrational actions.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr S Jordan
  • 08-07-18

Wonderfuuly Written & Performed!

In short, I found this story to be wonderfully written and performed brilliantly by Scott Brick!
The story is so fascinating with some quite unexpected twists too. I do wish that some aspects of the story was explored more, like the spacecraft for example. Overall, despite the story being a tense and exciting journey, I found the ending so disappointingly lacklustre that its slightly tainted the entire story for me.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • KM
  • 07-19-18

Stereotype characters and bored narrator

This book should have been exciting. However, it was marred by some seriously stereotyped characters (black man and women both with chips on their shoulders etc). The narration was generally monotone and sounded like he was sad or bored throughout. Which meant that, by the time the climax was reached, I didn’t care about the myriad of plot holes, I was just happy it was ending.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • phone
  • 02-03-18

bad narration

Very slow and annoying narration. Could not listen to this without getting really frustrated and also sleepy!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • In car listener
  • 05-06-17

It's a bit silly, in a serious sort of way.

Would you consider the audio edition of Sphere to be better than the print version?

No. It's about on a par, but not better. The novel relies on a lot of numbers being represented on the page, especially with regard to Jerry, and this is hard to put across in spoken word. Brick is a good reader, and his laconic style fits the book well.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was a bit Deus Ex Machina, wrapping up everything rather neatly, but it was also the only ending that would make sense. I've read the book, so it wasn't a surprise, but it would be if you didn't know what was about to happen.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Rather the other way round - scenes with Ted were excruciating. Obviously intended to be so, but he's portrayed as such an irritating and annoying personality it's a wonder he wasn't bundled out the airlock at the first opportunity.

The beginning is much better - setting the scene and the exploration of the chip.

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

It made me wonder what I'd do if I had the power. I doubt I'd be any better at control than the characters in the book.

Any additional comments?

It's really quite a silly book. Even for science fiction, it's ridiculous in plot and scenario. Only Chrichton's skill at storytelling - and Brick's spoken word - make it worthwhile. I'll certainly listen to the first half again, but will probably lose interest for the latter part.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amy E.
  • 02-04-17

Wow

Amazing reminder of tales of the past. I love the novel and how much the author makes me laugh or jump. The narrative makes this great tale of adventure unputdownable. Wow

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Toadjuggler
  • 10-23-16

Poor story, challenge to finish.

Tedious and dull, not one I'll be revisiting The narrator does his best but still a bore.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Luke
  • 06-22-17

Thrilling, frightening and original.

I couldn't stop listening to it. This was an excellent story where I just needed to know what happened next.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Brett Douglas
  • 04-20-17

thrilling sci-fi adventure

I've listened to half a dozen Michael Crichton books and I thoroughly enjoyed Sphere. It not as technical as Airframe and doesn't have the intensity of Jurassic Park, it sits comfortably between the two.