by Michael Crighton

Hardcover, 1984

Call number




Alfred A. Knopf (1984), Edition: 1st, 335 pages


Fiction. Science Fiction. Thriller. HTML: From the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Congo comes a psychological thriller about a group of scientists who investigate a spaceship discovered on the ocean floor.   In the middle of the South Pacific, a thousand feet below the surface, a huge vessel is unearthed. Rushed to the scene is a team of American scientists who descend together into the depths to investigate the astonishing discovery. What they find defies their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship, but apparently it is undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old, containing a terrifying and destructive force that must be controlled at all costs.  .… (more)

Media reviews

NBD / Biblion
Een team wetenschappers onderzoekt vanuit een habitat op de oceaanbodem een "buitenaards ruimtevaartuig", dat een tijdreizend schip uit de aardse toekomst blijkt te zijn. Na opening van een geheimzinnige bol volgen talloze moorddadige aanvallen, gestuurd door de macht die de bol bevat.
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Bestseller-auteur Crighton doet zijn naam eer aan. Hij schrijft los en soepel en verlevendigt de wetenschappelijke verklaringen met het gekissebis tussen zijn hoofdpersonen, die psychologisch heel best aanvaardbaar zijn. Hij houdt de spanning er goed in en komt met een prettig onverwachte draai aan het eind. Het gewelddadig verscheiden van 6 van de 9 personen, gekoppeld aan het uiteindelijke waarom, kan voor een aantal lezers misschien wat veel van het goede zijn.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Sphere is a prime example of book being better than movie.

Now, I must admit that when I was younger, I was they type to go see movies that interested me, and afterward, investigate their original source material, so I saw Sphere first. And I loved it.

I loved it so much that I went out and bought
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the book, which was the "movie edition cover," which these days I find annoying, but am willing to live with as long as the text is untouched.

I read the book. And I loved it. But in my love for the book, I started to dislike the film. I though, "Gee, Mr. Levinson, couldn't you have been a little more faithful to the book? It would have made an even better film!" I'm not saying that the film itself was bad, as after all, I said earlier that I loved it. I'm just saying that if your movie is nowhere near as good (even if it is good) as the book, then you're doing it wrong.

The book is about an alien craft found deep in the ocean (it's discovered because its tail fin severed a trans-oceanic data cable). A team of scientists is assembled to study the alien vessel. Upon investigation, however, they discover the alien vessel in not alien at all, but some sort of time traveling space ship from the future, crashing into the ocean in the past. There are no survivors, as the ship has been under water for at least 350 years. There is, however, a strange spherical artifact, called "the sphere."

One of the scientists ventures into the sphere, but has no recollection of what went on. Afterward, however, the crew is contacted by a curious entity via the computers who is capable of manifesting any manner of horrors just for his amusement.

The crew must then survive the childlike wrath of the entity, and try to figure out just what's happening.

The thing I enjoyed most about this novel was not that it was a techno thriller, as are most if not all of Crichton's books. I enjoyed, rather, the psychological nature of this book, which does come apparent as you read it.

If you are a fan of either techno or psychological thrillers, or quite possibly any thriller, maybe even Michael Jackson's Thriller, then you may find yourself enjoying Sphere. If you want to maximize your enjoyment, you might want to do as I have done, and watch the movie first. Be ready to hate it, though, once you've read the book. And be ready to be disappointed if you read the book and THEN watch the movie.
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LibraryThing member kenzen
I did not care for this book. Really bad science and a weak story. That the book is better than the movie is only telling thing about the movie.
LibraryThing member myabut
One of Crichton's best that did not translate well in the Barry Levinson movie. A team of scientists investigate an unidentified aircraft found at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean beneath sediments dated hundreds of years in the past. What they find inside, where it came from and what happens to
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them makes this a page turner from beginning to end.
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LibraryThing member benjamin.duffy
Crichton at his worst. The end of this book was so abrupt, so stupid, that I flipped back and re-read the last fifteen pages, sure that I had missed something. I hadn't.
LibraryThing member reblacke
While I am a Crichton fan, this was not one of his best works, in my opinion. To me the concept was good, but the storyline was too hard to follow. Even the movie attempt was below standard for a Crichton novel.
LibraryThing member Radaghast
Excellent psychological thriller. I found the ending slightly dissatisfying, but this is Crichton at his best.
LibraryThing member Bestine
Crichton hasn't really written an exceptional thriller since The Andromeda Strain. This one's worse than most. I have no idea where it came from, but I've been hauling it around forever, as it's a first. I remember originally reading it on an airplane and thinking it was pretty lame. I pulled it
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out to re-read last year, planning to cull it, and found a $1 bill stuck in it (drink change, no doubt) and figured that was the best thing I ever got out of it.
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LibraryThing member conformer
To be fair, this crap Crichton faux-potboiler is marginally better than the shite movie adaptation.Oh, wait. No, it isn't.Get it?
LibraryThing member jupufo
This is my all time favorite book. Michael Crichton is an excellent novelist.
LibraryThing member Nodosaurus
The story was fun and intriguing, but I couldn't quite get into the people. Most of them seemed a bit shallow, they had odd idiosynchrosies that didn't seem to match the characters but were useful for the plot. For instance, the marine biologist was claustrophobic and couldn't travel in a
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submarine. The theme reminded me strongly of the old movie, but if I name it, it'll ruin the book. So there!

The ending seemed a bit contrived. I couldn't see these people going to this conclusion. And some of the conclusions they jumped to seemed a bit far-fetched. But otherwise the book was enjoyable. The action and suspense is typical for Crichton.
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LibraryThing member Omrythea
A fast-paced read that is interesting and riveting. Michael Crichton keeps you on the edge of your seat.
LibraryThing member HvyMetalMG
This was my first experience reading Crichton and I was hooked immediately. I read this in college and it was the first book that I finished in 3 days. I really enjoyed the scientific explanations that made everything seem possible, which is his staple I would soon learn. By the way, the movie
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sucked ass compared to the book.
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LibraryThing member yoda2ryu
Unfortunately, I saw the movie before I read the book, so I had some of that Hollywood glamor in my head while reading it. I was quite disappointed, as most readers are, in how much the movie left out. Always, always, I like the book much more. It had much more action and probably more suspense if
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I hadn't already known the outcome. But, that's life.
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LibraryThing member Joles
This book was gripping (and better than the movie.) If you're interested in space and/or the ocean this book is fun. The plot is intense and you can easily connect with the characters.
LibraryThing member StormRaven
This book follows a fairly classic science fiction trope - an alien object has been discovered that has been sitting on (or near) Earth for hundreds of years and modern day scientists go to investigate it. Once there, they discover alien technology too advanced for them to understand, but decide to
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fool around with it anyway. This, of course, turns out badly, and results in injuries, deaths, and other difficulties.

This isn't a truly bad book, it is just a very derivative one. I suppose if I hadn't read or seen stories that cover much the same territory before, and in most cases done it better, I might give this book a more favorable review. But the "alien device from the future" story has been done better. The "secrets man was not meant to know" story has been done better. And the "wouldn't it be scary if we could change things with our subconscious" story has been done better. I suppose this book gets some credit for weaving them all together, but I downgrade it for the weak ending.

If you really like Crichton, and won't be bothered by a story that rehashes territory covered by other science fiction authors, this one is okay. Not great, but okay.
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LibraryThing member briandarvell
A quick and fun read which follows Crichton's usual method of storytelling. Not as entertaining as Jurassic Park or Timeline but still enjoyable. The author tried to argue the case between a balance of scientific consciousness and the emotional unconsciousness but other than there was not much else
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to the story.
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LibraryThing member etimme
I thought the first half of the book was great - interesting, suspenseful, at times unsettling - but once the characters discover the meaning of the sphere I thought it got a little stupid. The navy guys were never fleshed out very well as characters, but even Barnes was treated to a mostly
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off-screen and faceless death. I just had a hard finding things to like about the book past the beginning, and was anxious to finish it so I could put it down.

The ending was mostly stupid, too - only Beth saved it.
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LibraryThing member cbradley
This is one of my favorite books ever. With plot twists around every corner the only thing that could make this book better would be more of it. There’s action, psychological drama, and plenty of amazing science fiction throughout this exciting novel that make it enjoyable read after read.
LibraryThing member Audacity88
Good stuff. Starts off as strong as Crichton's Timeline and Andromeda Strain, and unlike those two, does not disappoint - perhaps because the central character's profession (psychologist) makes the drama more human and less dependent upon the novel's technology.
LibraryThing member JGolomb
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
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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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LibraryThing member trinityM82
So creepy. Would not recommend, unless you are ready to creep out of your skin by what goes on inside people's heads.
LibraryThing member phaga
I really dug the idea behind this book, it was a fast read for me. This was another book that I read when I was in my teens and re-read in my twenties, still holds up. The movie wasn't bad either.
LibraryThing member amelish
Not bad, for Michael Crichton.
LibraryThing member bookworm12
A psychological thriller set in a 300 year old space ship found at the bottom of the ocean. The military sends a team down to investigate made up mainly of civilians. Norman, a psychologist, Beth, a zoologist, Harry, a mathematician, etc., find a large sphere on the ship and soon their fears begin
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manifesting around them. Trapped together at the bottom of the ocean, they have to decide who can be trusted.

I like reading Crichton's books when I go on vacation, because they are easy to pick up, get sucked into and are fast-paced. They are easy reads, but are definitely enjoyable. This one was no exception.
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LibraryThing member Anagarika-Sean
Not one of his best, but a good one, none the less.


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