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Damocles Paperback – 28 May 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: 47North; paperback / softback edition (28 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161109965X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611099652
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,070,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

S.G. Redling parlayed her degree in English from Georgetown University into various careers including waitress, monument tour guide, sheepskin packer, and radio host. She has leapt from a plane and a moving train, gotten lost in Istanbul and locked in the dining car of a midnight train through the Carpathians. She currently lives in Huntington, West Virginia, and is also the author of the thriller Flowertown.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 May 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There's precious little pure SF being written these days, so when I understood that Damocles wasn't supernatural fantasy or war games in space, I grabbed it. Within the first 100 pages it felt like a return to old times, as it revisits many of the first contact themes so brilliantly realised by Niven and Pournelle (Footfall) or CJ Cherryh (Foreigner: 10th Anniversary Edition (Foreigner Universe Books)). In fact, one of the characters in Damocles is named Pell, and I can't help wondering if that's a tip of the hat to CJ...

There's a lot to like about Damocles, but most of the good start is stacked up at the start. There's a credible scenario for humans seeking interstellar contact, and a practical spacecraft which sounds up to the job with plenty of nifty concepts like its living walls and power crystal (which is just as bit as cranky as the dilithium crystals of the original Enterprise...). Sadly, we don't get to spend too much time in space before the crew have arrived at one of their target planets, which is populated by people-a-bit-like-us, only wider and slower, who happen to be at a similar stage of evolution with an internet, graphic comics and underachieving, lovestruck geeks.
Then the pace slows down quite a bit as we meander through the gradual process of establishing communication, learning language, tripping up over cultural differences and forming meaningful relationships across the biggest barrier imaginable.
The story is told from two perspectives, one character from each species, sometimes replaying scenes from each angle.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER on 4 July 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Damocles starts very strongly and captures the reader's attention from the first few pages. A group of six people from Earth have been sent on a mission to discover planets with inhabitants who share some common ancestry with humans. Eventually they arrive at Didet, where they quickly establish some rapport with the local populace, the Dideto who are clearly fascinated with the `Urfers' (Earthers).

There are some very interesting aspects to this story. It is alternatively told from the perspective of Meg, the linguistics expert from the mission and Loul, one of the Dideto who has a particular interest in aliens and correctly forecast their arrival to apparent derision. These two establish quite a close relationship and Loul relates his feelings on meeting this strange alien with her elongated limbs and face and large, watery eyes. It is quite a departure for humans are viewed as and described as the, possibly hostile and certainly weird aliens.

However, following the powerful first couple of chapters, the story does move at a very sedate pace for quite a while as the two races, who have no common language, work by trial and error to establish some sort of method of communicating. It does seem rather surprising that Earth, apparently now so advanced, has not worked out a more efficient protocol for establishing language. The main interest is in the charm of the interaction between Meg and Loul, who clearly have a lot of empathetic response to each other, without being able to verbally express it. Later the story does gather a little pace with the result that the final segment is probably more interesting than what preceded it.

All in all a story which involves the reader, but which, perhaps, does not live up to its initial promise. However, it is an interesting scenario and a worthwhile read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Schneehase VINE VOICE on 23 May 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Damocles was a 4th century BCE poor man in ancient Syracuse who thought that the life of the king Dionysius was wonderful, luxurious etc. So Dionysius offered to swap places and Damocles was quite happy until he noticed a very sharp sword hanging only by a thread above the king's throne. Dionysius told him that this was what a king's life was really like and Damocles eagerly swapped back again and returned to his poor, but safe, life.
The Sword of Damocles has come to mean that we don't really know what someone else's life is like and we can't judge from external signs - we would have to step into that person's shoes to really know. And probably also that it's not actually that great at the top of the heap.
So to the novel that Redling has named 'Damocles'. I can see why - the two main characters' relationship survives on the edge of a very sharp sword; one incautious move and devastation could result. Also, each culture has little to no idea (but lots of imaginative assumptions) about the other and being given a small chance to experience each other's cultures does lead to some sort of a rapport and understanding.
The novel is set at some point in the future when humans from Earth have been 'terraforming' and inhabiting planets and have the technology for deep space travel. 'Damocles' is the name of a deep space craft with a crew of 6 (3 of each) all of whom are specialists in something to do with either the craft or with what happens when they encounter alien life; eg scientific research and communication.
The 'Damocles' has been sent to find a far distant planet which may hold the ancestors of the human race. The narration is cleverly divided between 2 omniscient narrators following the experiences of 2 characters; Meg and Loul.
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