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3.6 out of 5 stars
Destination: Void: Prequel to the Pandora Sequence
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 November 2002
It is close to 35 years since I read "Destination: Void" at university. But it is still among the best ten books I have ever read - and I have read many thousands since then. In fact, it played a large part in my decision to enter the fledgling computer industry back in 1970. It must be admitted, though, that the book is deliberately aimed at a rather limited audience. In a world of commercialism run wild, I find this rather refreshing.
Herbert does not complicate matters wilfully, but on the other hand he makes no concessions whatsoever to his readers' ignorance. He assumes that they are interested both in technology and in the problems of existence, consciousness and religion. There should be plenty of people like that out there, right? Maybe they are all too busy doing useful work to read SF novels!
The upside is that Herbert is a real expert, and even allowing for the 30 years that have elapsed (a huge chasm in terms of technical progress) this book is vastly superior to the schlock that passes for SF today. The Tin Egg has the authentic feel of an experimental interstellar spaceship, whereas starship Enterprise is basically a flying playpen.
As for the science, it isn't too clear just where the facts leave off and the fiction sets in - and that is good, too. Suffice it to say that we still aren't any closer to cracking artificial intelligence yet, let alone artificial consciousness. (See Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" for another approach to the latter). So Herbert's speculations have hardly dated at all.
Personally, I rate "Destination: Void" as Herbert's best book, ahead of Dune, The Dragon in the Sea (Under Pressure), Dune Messiah, and The Dosadi Experiment. A matter of taste, I guess.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 September 2006
Discover how Ship who is God was created and how Raja Flattery failed. Some of the computer jargon has not stood the test of time but this in no way detracts from the story and the interaction between the characters and their situation.

Had Herbert not created Dune, we would now be raving on about Ship, Pandora and Avata...
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Having read "The Jesus Incident" and "The Lazarus Effect" (both charity-shop buys from my teenage years) I was excited to learn that there were more stories in this series. "Destination Void" is the story of the troubled birth of the artificial intelligence which became the godlike Ship of the later stories.

In isolation I would have found this book extremely difficult to get through. The first half of the story, setting the scene and introducing the minimal cast of characters (all of whom have different secret agendas) was readable. I felt connected to their dilemmas and was interested to see how they would overcome the problems that their sabotaged ship was causing. As the story progressed however, it became more and more mired down in outdated technobabble, and the "revelations" of the various crew members as they figured things out were presented in such massive paragraphs about the functionings of artificial synapses, and the definitions of consciousness and life, that any excitement and momentum was lost.

So . . . three stars for me - the premise of the story was interesting, and I am a huge fan of this kind of moral-dilemma science fiction. I also was intrigued to understand the beginnings of the series which I'd first read so long ago. I wouldn't recommend this book in isolation at all though - if you've read some of the other books in the series first you'll have a much better chance of understanding the story and caring about the consequences of the characters' actions.
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on 9 July 2014
This is an exploration of what define consciousness. A small crew of clones has been sent into space and been given the challenge to create a conscious entity.

Most of the book is taken up with philosophical dialogue between the various characters. While the dialogue is interesting from a philosophical point of view, it's fairly stilted. The characters are one-dimensional and not very believable and there is virtually no character development. Perhaps this because the characters are clones who have been conditioned to behave in prescribed ways. (In fairness, many of them are aware of and try to overcome this conditioning, but without success).

In the end, the characters are little more than a way of exploring different viewpoints about what constitutes consciousness.

While I certainly found the discussions interesting, I wouldn't say that I actually enjoyed the book.
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on 22 January 2013
Herbert deals with some interesting concepts to do with the elusive possibility of 'machine intelligence' - now commonly called AI. The problem here is that, as with any text dealing with computer technology, the material has become outdated. I agree with other reviewers that the text is far too wordy. There is enough material here for a good short story such as Phillip K Dick would have written - as it stands it is too long.
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on 6 July 2014
A great book about creation of artificial intelligence, more philosophy than technology and though the technology is definitely of the era it was written, it does not detract from the flow. It was hard work in places, but that's more of a compliment than a complaint - I like having to work at a book. The themes and ideas still have validity and I loved the writing, highly recommended.
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on 21 February 2015
Hard reading, extremely dull, dialogue that could have been written by George Lucas. Yes really that bad in places. Yet even with the cardboard characters, stilted dialog and weird science it is worth the effort. Though the book isnot necessary it adds something.
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on 12 February 2015
I guess the description of technology in this story is now a long way from reality and has suffered from the passage of time. However, the concept of the story is interesting; although, I found the story dragged a bit in places.
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on 19 September 2014
I was recommended this book and it is a fantastic thought provoking read. As others have said, it is primarily just narrative between the characters, but excellent narrative.
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on 11 March 2015
There was just too much technical ramblings I lost track a few times. The trilogy is so much better.
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