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Centauri Dawn: 1 (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Dec 2000

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671040774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671040772
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.6 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 606,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Feb 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I expected this book to be another boring novelization, but I was very surprised to find myself engaged in a thematically rich story about human nature on a distant world.
The author has taken a risk by centering most of the book around one key battle, but the battle is made somewhat powerful and intriguing by the many lives it affects and the way it comes about. I also found the battle sequences to be quite compelling and the final conclusion surprising.
Fans of the game will like this book, I think. The author takes risks with his characters, and the world they inhabit is far from stagnant, unliek some of the star wars and star trek style books.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Dec 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an admirable endevour to create a book based on an epic game such as Alpha Centauri, sounded to me like the makings of a great book, however I was sincerely disappointed. The book is obviously aimed at those fans of the game who want to read an atmospheric account of what happens in the game. Instead of introducing new and interesting angles and facets to this great game, the book produces no more than a blow by blow account of what happens in the game with a few basic superficial subplots thrown in.
It starts of great with a good description of making a new home on a foreign world, from the perspective of two of the "factions" and quickly declines, once the battles begin, to single dialogues of people saying run up this hill and down this hill. The constant shift from faction to faction has a tendency to confuse the reader, especially during the long arduos battles. The battle scenes which take up most of the book, are poorely written and too long. There is little description, and relies too heavily on dialogue to carry the thin plot line. This would have been suitable for a movie script however it doesn't work when it is put down onto paper.
Bearing in mind the rich universe that is Alpha Centauri, I think that more time could have been devoted to discovering more about the world and the other people on it. There were several facets which were sadly left unexplored, which hopefully they will investigate in future books.
Overall as a alpha centauri game veteren I would rate this book as average to poor recreation of what happened in the game. I felt cheated as most of the book (nearly half) is devoted to a single battle, the cause of which is held together by very weak plotlines.
This book would probably be useful for diverting an addicted gamer away from playing alpha centauri however my advice to a young adult looking for an interesting book to read,is that they should probably pass this one over.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
not especially well written, but manages to be interesting 8 Jan 2001
By J. K. Kelley - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When you write a book based on a standout computer game environment, special skills are required: you have to write the book for non-game-veterans as well as players. In this regard, Ely doesn't really succeed here, but he's got enough storytelling talent to carry the day. He could have made it a first-rank SF book doing true justice to the game, but we don't get that.
What's good is the character development, the growing suspense as tensions between factions increase, and the degree to which Ely took advantage of the rich environment Brian Reynolds created in the computer game. What's not so good, and heavily impacts the suspension of disbelief, is the lack of detail as to the development of the factions. It is too easy to assume that they just sprang up out of pods that scattered from the mothership, and that's too sanitary a conclusion. There was tremendously fertile ground here for storytelling about how the factions went from 'the bunch of castaways who happened to land with Deirdre Skye' to 'the Gaians', and Ely bypassed it--pity. How'd they end up factionalizing as they did, beyond the on-ship bickering prior to the start point of the book? Where'd they get their faction names? How about a map to put this into spatial perspective? No luck.
A decent SF book mainly of interest to fans of the computer game, but one that radiates missed potential.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Best Book Based on a Video Game Ever 29 Aug 2001
By Joseph - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
And winning the narrow catagory of "Best Book Based on a Video Game" is . . . Centauri Dawn!

If you enjoy playing Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, this book will expand the game a little bit for you, and develops some of the neat story-elements in the game. If you don't play SMAC, you might still enjoy the books, and then you can have the added bonus of buying the games and reliving some of the story elements.
For those not familiar with the game, it (and the book) take place on a habitable planet on Alpha Centauri. An interstellar colony ship arrives, only to learn that the developing war on Earth has apparently cut off all contact with Earth. Seven archetypical leaders (a scientist, a merchant, an environmentalist, etc.) start factions on the new planet, and risk repeating Earth's destruction.

If you enjoy this book, then I have two more recommendations for you. First, try Red Mars, Blue Mars, and Green Mars, by Kim Staley Robinson. Those books explore very similar themes, from a little bit more of a "hard sf" perspective. Second, if you haven't read it yet, try the Iliad, by Homer. Most of the second half of Centauri Dawn is a retelling of the story of Achilles, Patrokolus, and Hector, and it's fun to trace the two stories together.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A tribute to Sid Meier's game 16 Dec 2000
By Kellen - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought Centauri Dawn yesterday, and I enjoyed it a lot! I stayed up until I was done reading it. I have to admit, every time I played the Alpha Centauri game, I wondered how it would look like for "real", and this book, I think, has brought that image into my mind like I always expected it would be. Although it might be a tad more easy to understand things that occur in the book if you have played the game, it's still an excellent book! I recommend buying it!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great book! 15 Mar 2001
By "plgoh" - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an really interesting and great for teens and adults, especially those who played the game.
The story begins at the landing on the sanctuary planet, called Alpha Centauri. It shows how the different fractions survive with limited resources and wars between each other! It reflects on the nature of humans (e.g. the way we react to a problem, hard-headed, regret etc.)
Actually, this book is best for beginners in Sci-Fi reading. I can't wait for the 2nd book!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So that's what happens when I push 'enter' 23 Sep 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought the Alpha Centauri PC game way back in the late 90s. The addiction that fueled more late nights than I care to admit echoes well after that last turn and I've played it at least once a year since. While I appreciate the great lengths the game went through to personalize the experience, the voiceovers can only carry you so far. On this latest playthrough - over 12 years after the game was released - I thought it would be fun to take the next step. Centauri Dawn does a pretty good job getting that done.

A little background for anyone unfamiliar with the game. Humanity, teetering on the edge of apocalypse, sends out a colonization mission to the Alpha Centauri system. The mission launches under the United Nations banner, but as the ship arrives at the new world, the colonists fragment along ideological lines. Each faction grabs a landing pod, makes planetfall and establishes their own base.

Centauri Dawn follows the United Nations Peacekeepers as they try to reunite humanity under the original charter. While they have some success with the a few of the factions, the remnants of the ship's security forces, the Spartans, have different plans.

In the opening act, you get a good feel for Pravin Lal and Corazon Santiago, leaders of the UN Peacekeepers and Spartans, respectively. You see his idealism and her militarism as they deal with the difficulties of life on the new world. The limited resources, dangerous native life and brutal decisions pay homage to some of the game's conventions; from a player's perspective, one can plausibly imagine these scenes playing out as you decide to build up your base instead of creating a military unit.

While Lal, Santiago and the other faction leaders are stars in the game, the book makes Lal's son, Jahn, the protagonist. After an early skirmish with the Believers faction, he is made commander of the Peacekeeper forces and is put to the test after diplomatic relations with the Spartans go south.

It's this conflict with the Spartans, particularly their assault on the Peacekeeper's primary base, that takes up a good third of the book (and most of what happens before just sets up the conflict.) The action moves along at a good clip as the tide swings back and forth. Ground is gained and lost, characters win and lose and die. As a player you can't help but pity the Peacekeepers who should have beefed up their military forces with the Spartans on their border.

I won't spoil the ending, but it impacted me enough to change my policy toward the Spartans in my current game. They once shared their continent with the University -one of my more profitable trading partners- but have long since pushed them out to sea. I gave the University a couple of bases just to keep them going (and to keep trading with them.) Out of the kindness of my own, capitalistic heart (I'm playing as the Morganites), I decided to hold back my overwhelming military from them in favor of peaceful trading. After Centauri Dawn, I feel like unleashing some righteous revenge.
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