Sphere

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Overview

In the middle of the South Pacific, 1,000 feet below the surface, a huge spaceship is discovered resting on the ocean floor. It is a craft of phenomenal dimensions, it seems undamaged by its fall from the sky, and it appears to be at least three hundred years old. Rushed to the scene is a group of American scientists who investigate this astonishing discovery. What they find defies imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. Now a major motion picture directed by Barry Levinson and starring ...
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Overview

In the middle of the South Pacific, 1,000 feet below the surface, a huge spaceship is discovered resting on the ocean floor. It is a craft of phenomenal dimensions, it seems undamaged by its fall from the sky, and it appears to be at least three hundred years old. Rushed to the scene is a group of American scientists who investigate this astonishing discovery. What they find defies imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. Now a major motion picture directed by Barry Levinson and starring Sharon Stone, Dustin Hoffman, and Samuel L. Jackson.
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Editorial Reviews

Robin Mckinley
No one can ask more of a thriller, except maybe that it be a little longer....Part of the fun of ''Sphere'' is that it keeps you going even when you're pretty sure of what will happen next....The last 10 pages are exactly what they should be. Take this one with you for your next long plane ride. -- New York Times
Library Journal
Crichton has rolled the present, past, and future into one highly technical and confusing science fiction adventure. The present features, among others, a pompous astrophysicist, a female zoologist, a black mathematician, and a 53-year-old psychologist, who are summoned by the Navy to examine a plane crash in the South Pacific. The past is manifested in the stranded object resting on the sea bottom where it has been for some 300 years. When the four scientists, who carry their emotional minority baggage of sex, color, and age along with them, descend to the deep in their submersible, they discover the wreck to be no less than a spaceship from the future that fell through a black hole, defying time and space. Strange things begin to happen as one by one the cast of characters diminishes. Disappointing. Literary Guild dual main selection. Marion Hanscom, SUNY at Binghamton Lib.
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394561103
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/12/1987
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 385
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.69 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton has sold over 200 million books, which have been translated into thirty-eight languages; thirteen of his books have been made into films. Also known as a filmmaker and the creator of ER, he remains the only writer to have had the number one book, movie, and TV show simultaneously. At the time of his death in 2008, Crichton was well into the writing of Micro; Richard Preston was selected to complete the novel.

Richard Preston is the internationally bestselling author of eight books, including The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He lives with his wife and three children near Princeton, New Jersey.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 188 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(122)

4 Star

(43)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 188 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Couldn't put it down

    It has been awhile since I have read this book and I haven't seen the movie so hopefully my memory will serve me well in this review. I remember the inability to put this book down. I was so scared and needed to find out what happened next. The supense was killing me. It combined two of my fears (deep water & the unknowing) which in my mind is a killer combination. The book was so good that I don't even have a desire to see the movie. Besides, the mind can be even more terrifying.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012

    Much better than the movie!

    If you have seen the movie, try to forget how hollywood murdered this story and look at Sphere with fresh eyes. As with other Crichton novels, this one is a real page turner. The movie jumbled the story and changed the plot completely. Here, we get to see what the sphere is actually about and what the scientists run into down there. Very psychological and a thrill to read! Read in one sitting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2012

    One the best stories

    The movie does this zero justice! Buy it! Borrow it! What ever you have to do, but just read it you will love it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Worst book ever Worst book EVER!

    I'm not kidding. I've read some really bad book's before but this one took the cake and ate it too!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    Loved it!

    I would give this book a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Michael Crichton shows that he's not only capable of writing an

    Michael Crichton shows that he's not only capable of writing an astounding thriller but he's also capable of writing an astounding psycho-thriller.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    very good

    very good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Best book ive read

    This is the best book ive read and ive read a lot of books in my life time. I think that any one that hates this book is stupid. Im only on page # 215 and i cant put this book down at all. There are a few boring parts in the book yes but what book dosnt at least one boring part in it. My dad gave it to me to read yesterday and i had i really hard time doing anything. Not a least trying this book is crazy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2013

    Another great one

    Michael crichton is as great as lways I could barely put it down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    Poor

    Super corny dialogue, racist, sexist, no knowledge of psychology, no depth of character, silly squid, corny environment, not evocative, crichton phoned it in

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Fantastic Deep Sea & Alien Thriller

    I can never forgive Michael Crichton. It happens again and again. His pace is unrelenting, his logic nearly flawless. His stories are invariably intense and suspenseful. I can never regain the sleep I’ve lost when reading "just one more chapter" each night. Michael Crichton, I rue the day you got me hooked.

    "Sphere" is a terrific sci-fi thriller. Instead of space though, the story takes place deep within the Pacific Ocean, where a team of scientists, in support of a US Navy exercise, explore and try to understand what appears to be a spaceship.

    Like most of Crichton’s novels, “Sphere’s” characters are created to give voice to varying personality types and perspectives. Crichton populates his undersea thriller with representatives from multiple scientific disciplines. Norman Goodman is a psychologist and explores the deepest parts of the human (and alien) mind. Beth Halperin is a biologist and brings her perspectives of earth and space-bound biological beings. Ted Fielding is the obnoxious astrophysicist, and Harold Barnes is the Navy commander who provides a militaristic, and conspiratorial, perspective.

    Harry Adams is a savant mathematician with prodigious reasoning skills. The character seems to be an early sketch of the well-known Dr. Ian Malcolm from Crichton’s “Jurassic Park”. Adams serves as the big brain and foil to the narrow-sighted exuberance of the martial Barnes in “Sphere”, whereas Malcolm served the same role as counterpoint to John Hammond’s financially-fueled dinosaur fervor on "Jurassic Park".

    Goodman works through the causalities of events and actions and gives Crichton a mechanism and mouthpiece for the exploration of human nature and motivation. Crichton utilizes Norman's field of expertise to provide the psychological context to the story. And instead of delivering the themes through a disembodied narrator, Norman’s internal monologue and dialogue with the other characters provides the mental framework driving the psychological horror and intensity.

    Crichton uses his plot, as usual, to delve into numerous scientific theories and perspectives. The alien presence provides the platform for the discussion of extraterrestrial contact, space travel and time travel. The underwater setting provides Crichton with the physical background to delve into ocean biology, and the capabilities and possibilities of living for extended periods under water. Within all of the scientific disciplines, Crichton enables his characters to explore the most modern and extreme theories of science.

    Norman uses the isolation and extreme existence of underwater habitats to provide readers with a view of a full-scale, real-time Rorschach test. Everyone and everything is viewed, absorbed and translated uniquely. Everything impacts the personalities in a different way, which drives the story's human elements in unison with the well-paced action surrounding and impacting the characters.

    The book has moments of horror, but is fueled by suspense. The conclusion - literally the last 2 pages - is a little weak, but the ride to get there is fantastic and fast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    Boring.

    Nothing much happened here.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Beautifully Painted

    The characters are all so beautifully painted on the tapestry of fear and the mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2012

    I am a huge Crichton fan, but I was a bit disappointed by Sphere

    I am a huge Crichton fan, but I was a bit disappointed by Sphere. It lacked the science of his other works and became more science-fiction/fantasy than I would have liked. Anyway, Sphere certainly keeps you reading--the plot is riveting.

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  • Posted June 4, 2012

    A Must Read!

    Riveting, exciting and hard to put down. If you like like underwater excitement, murder and intreuge, then this is the book for you. I have yet to read a book by this author that wasn't excellent.

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  • Posted May 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Crichton Classic!

    The cover seduced me into purchasing it. I informed the sales clerk I read the novel twice before and listened to the audio book four times. She asked me why read it again. I said this is part of my triad of Crichton classics [the others are Jurassic Park and Congo]. The movie version of Sphere is meaningless drivle but the story is worth reading once more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I absolutely loved it

    It absolutely riveting. So far I have yet to have read a bad Crichton adventure, Sphere is no exception!

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  • Posted April 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Crichton delivers another thrilling and intriguing tale that is truly a page turner!

    I had just recently gotten hold of a copy of Sphere and at first I wasn't amazed by it. Once I got into it, however, I couldn't stop reading it. Sphere is a science fiction story about psychologist Norman Johnson and a group of scientists who are sent in an undersea habitat to research a 350 year old spacecraft of an unknown origin. Their seemingly tranquil expedition soon turns to disaster as strange occurrences start soon after their arrival. The story casts themes of ominous mystery, suspense, and some occasional humor and even romance.

    I was impressed by how the story is unique as it explores the many emotions the characters experience. Crichton really captures the life and personality of the characters in the novel. Crichton also does a great job is building up the suspense in the story, making you want to keep reading until you reach the very end. The novel's driving factor I think is the setting. Under the sea has so many possibilities to explore; and it brings many challenges and lots of beautiful scenery for the reader and characters to confront. The thing that really made me want to keep reading was the oddball story. I was always left guessing what was going to happen next and found that many of my strange conjectures were either spot on, or waaay off. The constant surprises Crichton packs in really puts Sphere in a category of it's own. However, I felt that sometimes the story moves a bit slow at times that it takes several pages to get down to business. Also frequent use of heavy use of scientific and mathematical lingo may confuse some readers. This may not be a con, but i felt that sometimes the book was almost too detailed, citing every single little aspect of everything, almost to the point where it was tedious to read. It did paint a great picture of the setting though! Nonetheless, The book is a must read for any reader, especially those whose cup of tea is science fiction! The story is so unique and the powerful images presented in every page gets your adrenaline pumping! I strongly recommend Sphere to anyone willing to read 350+ pages of a visual roller coaster!

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    It's a page Turner

    This book Grabbed my attention from the first page. It was very entertaining and exciting to read. I could not put the book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2009

    Great Book!!

    I really loved this book. It was extremely exciting, and always left you wondering what was going to happen next. Sphere was one of those books that you just can't put down. It is an amazing sci-fi, mystery book. I would recommend it to just about anyone. Keep in mind that it is fairly long with tiny print, but the plot definitely kept me engaged. You should read this book!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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