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The Spheres of Heaven Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2002

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nebula and Hugo winner Sheffield (Convergent Series) takes a thoughtful stab at pacifism and its attendant possibilities in this engrossing sequel to The Mind Pool. In the past, Chan Dalton was forced to disband his motley crew of spacefarers when the Stellar Group, an alien pacifist outfit, banned the human race from space exploration because of its violent tendencies. Twenty years later, without frontiers or aims, human society is stagnating and crumbling. Called upon to track down stolen starships, Chan and his group are given the chance to pick up where they left off and visit uncharted regions of space. When Chan's gang reassembles, they receive instructions to refrain from violence of any sort--even in self-defense. But the first intelligent aliens they meet are warlike: the Malacostracans (a species resembling a cross between lobsters and spiders) are interested in conquest at any cost. When they capture several members of Chan's group, Chan faces an impossible question--should he resort to violence to free his crewmates, forsaking humankind's access to space forever? Is there any other way? In several places, coincidences pile up unconvincingly, and certain dangerous situations are wrapped up too easily. But Sheffield incorporates quantum physics (he is a mathematician and physicist), well-documented space travel and plenty of action into a smooth narrative. Readers of hard science fiction will find the story right up their alley.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Banned from interstellar travel for their aggressiveness, humans have one last chance to regain the stars, provided they can solve the mystery of the disappearance of a pair of alien ships lost somewhere in the unknown part of space known as the Geyser Swirl. This sequel to The Mind Pool continues Sheffield's far future history of humanity's attempts to explore the universe. His skill at blending hard science with fast-paced plotting and colorful characters makes this a first-rate sf adventure that belongs in most libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Baen; 1st edition (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067131856X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671318567
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By small review on June 26, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book because a friend told me to read it and I felt guilty saying no. As it was, it took me from August 2007 until January 2008 to finish the 532 page book. After September 2007 it was relegated to bathroom book status where I reluctantly read it when there was nothing else to do. I'm happy I finished the book (because it's now over).

The book wasn't bad, but I can't say it was good either. It was easy to read, so there's that. The human characters weren't overly annoying, but they were also barely there. Each character got anywhere from a paragraph to a chapter of description earlier on in the book, but these descriptions were apparently supposed to carry the characters through the whole book because they were barely developed beyond those early blurbs. I didn't think that worked too well, especially since the characters felt like cardboard caricatures as a result.

My friend was enamored with the weird aliens, but they just annoyed me. Three types of aliens are all against violence of any kind, but the fourth, new alien is all for violence. In fact, the fourth type of alien, a lobster type creature, are bent on taking over Earth and the human race. So while the humans are trying to protect themselves, the three allied aliens prattle on about how they must remain non-violent. Blah, blah, blah, they figure things out in a kind of inventive way and there you go.

If someone liked very base sci-fi, then this one might be enjoyable, but otherwise, I'd steer clear and not waste your time.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Imagine being forced to accept a mission to an unknown place, where 3 previous expeditions vanished without a trace and being told you could not use violence in any form, even in self defense. Hard to imagine isn't it.
Sheffield's book takes a little while to set up the story but slowly builds the tension and steps up the pace until finally you are so into the book you suddenly realize you've been reading for hours and didn't notice the time passing. The story involves humans and three other intelligent species and their effort to investigate what is called a "link" to another star system. Who and what they find their is so intriguing that you can't help but pause and consider what YOU would do were you in their shoes and faced with the same situation.
The ending was very obviously written to allow a sequel but also written so that the book can stand on its own. An excellent adventure tale with none of the violence and destruction common to many other sci-fi novels currently on the market. A wonderful change and very fun to read.
I'm going to look into more of Sheffield's books now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Huth on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sheffield has a bunch of interestingly flawed characters as usual, and by working together they manage to form a team that is quite capable. There is a lot of history among the characters, and the book is short, so the back story is mostly just hinted at. Not Sheffield's best, but a fun read, none the less. The science is credible, assuming it is actually possible to jump through hyperspace or whatever.

I get the feeling that this might be the middle book of a trilogy, but haven't been able to confirm or disprove that. We seem to get into the middle of already existing characters.

The alien consortium shuts down human access to the hyperspace links, isolating Sol's system and ruining the plans of several traders. But something strange has happened, and the non-violent aliens decide they need the humans to do some exploring. The strange, recently discovered link leads to the multiverse, and the discovery of another, very nasty alien race. {warning, spoiler follows} - By working together and playing a bit of poker with the new aliens, the lost explorers return to home, while the aliens are diverted to another part of the multiverse, where one of the old heroes awaits rescue. The end.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JH on December 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I first ordered Spheres of Heaven, not knowing it was a sequel, and subsequently ordered the first book, The Mind Pool. I was glad I did and was pleasantly re-introduced to science fiction after a long time away from this genre.
The Spheres of Heaven, continues (and evolves) with the adventures of Chan, and introduces a new character, the self effacing mechanical genius, Bony, who is ordered around by an incompetant and lazy captain whom you cannot wish enough bad things upon.
The book bounces back and forth between their two adventures in alternating chapters, forcing the reader at the end of each to want to race through the following chapter to pick up where they left off. This creates a self perpetuating "mad rush" of reading, making this book the quintesential "page turner"!
The supporting characters are well thought out and each is interesting enough to warrent their inclusion. So too, are the aliens. This writer even makes the computers and other technology interesting and vital characters in this book.
I'm back to reading sci-fi again, and I attribute this to the craftmanship apparent in Sheffeild's books.
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