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Sphere Mass Market Paperback – July 12, 1988

4.3 out of 5 stars 970 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton is possibly the best science teacher for the masses since H.G. Wells, and Sphere, his thriller about a mysterious spherical spaceship at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, is classic Crichton. A group of not-very-complex characters (portrayed in the film by Sharon Stone, Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Queen Latifah) assemble to solve a cleverly designed roller coaster of a mystery while attempting (with mixed success) to avoid sudden death and expounding (much more successfully) on the latest, coolest scientific ideas, including the existence of black holes. Somehow, Crichton manages to convey the complicated stuff in utterly simplistic prose, making him, as his old pal Steven Spielberg puts it, "the high priest of high concept." Yet there is more to Crichton than science and big-ticket show biz. He is also, as any reader of his startling memoir Travels knows, a bit of a mystic--he is entirely open to notions spouted by spoon-bending psychics that most science writers would scorn. Sphere is not only a gratifying sci-fi suspense tale; it also reflects Crichton's keen interest in the unexplained powers of the human mind. When something passes through a black hole in Crichton's fiction, a lesson is learned. The book also contains another profound lesson: when you're staring down a giant squid with an eyeball the size of a dinner plate, don't blink first.

From School Library Journal

YA As in Crichton's Andromeda Strain (Knopf, 1969), the focus of this science adventure tale is humankind's encounter with an alien life form. Within a space ship lying on the sea bottom is a mysterious sphere that promises each of the main characters some personal reward: military might, professional prestige, power, understanding. Trapped underwater with the sphere, the humans confront eerie and increasingly dangerous threats after communication with the alien object has been achieved. The story is exciting and loaded with scientific and psychological speculations that add interest at no cost to the action, including an intriguing sequence in which human and computer attempt to decode the alien communication. As the story races to an end, suspicions of evil-doing fall as many ways as in a detective novel. Young adults should find this book both accessible and satisfying. Mike Parson, Houston Public Library
Copyright 1987 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: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (July 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345353145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345353146
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (970 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Derek Armstrong on August 11, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Intriguing as always, exciting from the first page, strong for the first 2/3rds and less "editorializing" than usual, but it's just not as good as his higher concept novels. But it's still very enjoyable all the way through, and as always makes you think. It feels a little dated now, but I re-read it last week and enjoyed it just as much as the first time. Sphere should definitely be a part of any Crichton fan's library. Skip the movie, though. Here, the science is less "convincing" than in Jurrassic Park (which is mostly convincing, but stretched) and Prey (which is better writing and fun, but not convincing). But that doesn't matter, because Crichton can write an adventure like few others (as long as character isn't important--character's here take backseat to concept and science). Pace, as always is good. More a rollicking adventure than "something to think about" (typical of later novels) and quite enjoyable on that level. It's the kind of novel you'll tear through in a weekend at most. And that's a good thing.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was recently surprised to find this novel on one of my shelves; I saw the movie adaptation of the novel recently but did not remember owning the actual book. The movie was full of promise but ultimately disappointing, so I was pretty curious to see how good a read the actual novel was. Sphere is my first Michael Crichton novel, and I have to say I was quite impressed with Crichton's prowess. There are some logical flaws and inconsistencies in the plot, but Crichton is an incredibly gifted storyteller; I eagerly breezed through this novel in short order. While it is heavy on dialogue, the story touches on a number of aspects of the human personality while mixing in some profound if problematic science fiction in the process. This is a fast-paced thriller that definitely registers impressively on the suspense meter, particularly during the climactic late chapters. While the ending is something of a letdown, the story leading up to it is gripping and fascinating, and important clues and plot points are presented with much more subtlety and effectiveness than what you will find in the movie adaptation.
The novel is built around an incredible discovery; in the middle of the South Pacific, lying all but buried on the bottom of the ocean, rests a spacecraft of unknown origin. Psychologist Norman Johnson, the author of a secret government paper on Recommendations for the Human Contact Team to Interact with Unknown Life Forms (a less than serious paper he wrote primarily for the money) is called to the site, where he is informed that he will be part of a team of scientists sent to study the mysterious craft. Alongside him are an irascible Navy project commander, a brilliant, young astrophysicist/planetary geologist, a complicated female zoologist/biochemist, and a noted mathematician/logician.
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2 Comments 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
You've got to give it to Michael Crichton: he writes one heck of a page-turner. Open one of his books with the idea that you'll just read a chapter or two before bedtime and you'll suddenly be bleary-eyed at three in the morning. And although this particular title, which is somewhat less well known than such Crichton novels as THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and JURASSIC PARK, it still packs a bestseller wallop.

The premise is classic Crichton. In his younger days, psychologist Norman Johnson was approached by the United States government to write a report on the psychological impact of an encounter with extra-terrestrials--and now, on the basis of his rather flippant recommendations, he finds himself en route to a possible UFO crash sight on the floor of the Pacific ocean. Once established with his colleges in an underwater habitat, the government team encounters a mysterious space craft that contains a still-more mysterious sphere, and those who come into contact with it undergo an unexpected change.

The writing is crisp and clean, the hard science is handled quite skillfully, and Crichton plays out his story at a breathless pace: yes, a page-turner if ever there was one. Still, it is worth noting that SPHERE displays Crichton's weaknesses as clearly as it does his strengths. Strictly speaking, Crichton hasn't had an original concept in some thirty years, and just as he rehashed his screenplay for WESTWORLD into the novel JURASSIC PARK, so does he rehash THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN into SPHERE. The novel also contains both the foundational sexism and ambiguous conclusion so typical of Crichton's work.

Ultimately, SPHERE is popcorn: we've all had it before and you can't make a truly satisfying meal of it. But it is tremendously enjoyable all the same, and where is SPHERE is concerned... well, you'll eat every kernel in the bowl.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book this summer and I think it is his best to this day. A team of scientists set out to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to examine a spaceship that crashed to the bottom three hundred years ago. There is the calm and wise Norman Johnson, the attractive and determined Beth Halperin, the brilliant and befuddling Harry Adams, and the smart yet annoying Ted Fielding, all under the command of Harold Barnes, a Captain in the U.S. Navy. They quickly gain access and discover the ship operational, and they discover a metallic sphere. But when they are cut off in a storm, they must discover the power of the sphere and confront its great powers. lest everyone get killed. I was genuinely sad when it ended. This book is Crichton's best and it is the best I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books. If you are looking for a white-knuckle ride to terror on the bottom of the ocean, this book is your ticket, and this review is your boarding call. Buy it today, because I guarantee you, you will want to re-read this one. Even if you aren't a fan of Crichton, pick this book up today and start reading. You won't be sorry.
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