Reviews: Benford, Gregory

By the Light of That Ship in the Sky

In the Ocean of Night — Gregory Benford
Galactic Centre, book 1

The 1978 fix-up In the Ocean of Night is the first volume in Gregory Benford’s Galactic Centre series1.

In the far-off year of 1999, British-American astronaut Nigel Walmsley is part of a two-man team sent by NASA to the asteroid Icarus. Unexplained out-gassing has transformed a body remarkable only for its eccentric orbit into an impending Earth-impacter. Nigel and Len’s mission is to determine how much, if any, of Icarus remains. If enough material is left to present a significant risk to the Earth, they are to destroy or divert Icarus with the Egg, a fifty-megaton fusion bomb.

The hope was that nothing would remain after the Egg had been used. The expectation was that a chunk of rock and iron might head for Bengal. The reality was a surprise: the large mass that had survived the out-gassing was an alien spaceship.

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The Stars in Shroud

Gregory Benford

I’ve never read the first draft of this – back when Now & Then Books was at 103 Queen South, Harry had a copy on the shelves for years and yet I was never quite inspired to pick it up. Perhaps this is because there were other books I wanted more but I think it’s because I knew Deeper Than Darkness was the earlier version of Stars in Shroud, a version that its author thought needed a rewrite and Stars is, sadly, full of interesting nuggets that are embedded in a crap sandwich.

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