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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Heart of the Comet
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on 23 February 2002
David Brin, although one of the best proponents of 'hard SF', does have a tendency to make his books a little slow. The Uplift sequence ranges between very good indeed (startide rising) and very overlong (all the jijo books). Heart of the comet is a lot better than all of these. It seems that Benford has found a way to moderate Brin's style such that it is gripping the whole way through. This is a brilliant example of the closed environment SF book, and you really engage with both the main and subsidiary characters. Also, an interesting reversal of the normal SF genetic engineering vision, here they are an underclass rather than a priveleged elite.
Definitely worth reading for all fans of Brin or hard SF in general.
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on 17 April 2012
This book is one of my favourites and I have read it a number of times. I love the characters, the world and I found the book to be deeply atmospheric.

The book follows an expedition to a comet that turns out to be much much more. While the world starts out not too futuristic, it evolves into something far, far weirder. The final world described rivals even Larry Niven at his best and weirdest.

It is excellent, atmospheric, weird with a good does of action. It's mystical in a certain way I cant describe, and the ending is excellent.

While I love this book, I will warn people that because it is hard 'Sci-Fi' it may not be for every ones taste. This book is a masterpiece, but it may not be easy reading. I have given this book to a few of my friends and none of them have ever successfully got into it. This

If you like hard sci-fi, and you have read a lot of serious sci-fi, this is recommended. But beware that this is not all that it seems, and some people may find it hard going, especially if you are after easy reading.

In Summary, this book is highly recommended.
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on 3 April 2003
Ah, this was such a satisfying novel. It follows three primary characters over a century as they are part of the effort to study Halley's comet. They discover a primitive life-form which attatches itself to the humans in a symbiotic relationship and eventually causes them to be an imagined threat to Earth.
The theme of genetically enhanced humans (Percells) and the rivalry between them and the normal humans is explored. Some consider this an overworked theme, but the authors here approach it from a logical perspective.
This is a good read and quite recommended for science-fiction readers.
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on 10 February 2014
A masterpiece of a novel with some excellent hard science (as you would expect from two luminaries in the field) and far-reaching concepts. I would rate it five stars, but the Kindle version has obviously been scanned in and not proof-read so there are A LOT of typos.
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on 30 November 1999
If you like David Brin or Gregory Benford's work then you will love this, even if you don't then you will still find this to be an epic book. I don't really have a criteria for what I find to be a good book, but some of the best book's I've read have always left me thinking for a long time after I've finished them. I personally think this is up there with Arhur C. Clarkes The City and the Stars, Dan Simmons Hyperion cantos, Iain M. Banks Culture novels and Stephen Baxter's Xeelee sequence.
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on 12 January 2011
The 'hard science' of a trip to Halley's Comet reads quite well (although how the 'fast trip' crew manage to 'loose' 1/3rd of their 'slow boat' support team is beyond belief - maybe they forgot to install any sort of radio beacon on the slow boats - or perhaps they have no radar on their own craft). It's not too obvious how long everyone has been awake for (they seem to have traveled for some years in frozen sleep) however on arrival at the Comet it's obvious that the crews mental processes have become seriously inhibited, especially when we learn they have activated potentially lethal kit before testing vital safety devices (which, of course, are some sort of 'throw-back' design that can 'fail' and fry the operator 'just like that'). However what really lets it down are the attitudes expressed by some of the characters. We have the classic 1920's Communist (spouting 'us the workers' and 'them the aristocrats' slogans whilst trying to 'recruit' 'the workers' for an obvious 'revolution' against 'the authorities'), the 1960's 'anti-establishment' figure who wants to 'get back to nature' (obviously this is a form of insanity, given how far they are from Earth) and the less said about the Religious Fanatic / Racial Bigot and (of course) the Wannabee Dictator the better .. this unbelievably explosive mix of moronic 'death waiting to happen' has been permitted to join a serious scientific mission into space !
Within a few chapters we learn of 'green goo' dripping out of the air conditioning .. and NO ONE turns a hair - plainly the entire crew is suffering from some sort of hazard blindness. When one of the team 'comes down with a cold' and again everyone takes this in their stride, including the medical 'expert', I conclude they are all in the process of loosing their mental faculties. Of course, when the Captain dies of his 'cold' and the 'wannabee Dictator' makes a bid for power, everyone focuses on the 'law of succession' and the ensuing power-struggle, with only a token attempt being made to contain and isolate the (by now obviously lethal) virus. By this stage I have started to have serious doubts about the mental age of the entire crew, squabbling like children as their habitat is falling apart around them and the plague starts to take hold. The final straw is when 'worms' start to burrow through the skin of the spacecraft = and whilst this is obviously some sort of 'kamikaze' comet based life-form (burrowing into the space craft no doubt being as terminal to them as humans throwing themselves unprotected onto the surface into Venus) again no-one seems at all surprised or worried. With the story starting to read like something from the 1930's (I'm starting to wonder when 'Flash Gorden' will make his appearance and save the day), I am unable to face any more of this abject nonsense and throw the book into the recycle bin ...
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