by Michael Crichton
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Harper Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061990557
Date: 01 April 2011 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Sphere, by Michael Crichton, is about a spaceship found 1000 feet underwater that is believed to be alien. Psychologist Norman Johnson is the lead character of the novel. Several years earlier, Johnson was funded to write a report called ULF, short for Unknown Life Form. In the report, Johnson had to determine contingency plans in the case of alien contact on Earth. Johnson thought the whole project was crazy, but he needed the research grant and gave it his best professional effort. He was totally surprised to be called upon to be part of the research team to investigate the spaceship.
Without giving away too much more of the plot, the team is assembled to descend to an underwater habitat to investigate the spaceship. The challenges of living and working underwater add to the suspense of Sphere, but also add to the technical aspects of reading. Onboard the spaceship, they find a large metal sphere, but nobody knows what it is. As they postulate and investigate, a major storm is arriving on the surface which makes the challenges of living and working underwater even more difficult.
The science in the book is extremely interesting, but not overpowering. Also involved is thought about alien life in general. Humans are bound by their own imagination, which is based on what we know to be real in our own world. It is possible that alien life is completely different in a way that humans cannot even predict. This theme flows throughout the novel too.
My favorite character is the mathematician, Harold J. Adams, or Harry. He is a “poor kid done good” that has a great ability for mathematics and is a little bit angry at the world. His logical insights are a key part to the world underwater and aboard the spaceship. Honestly, I am very impressed by the concepts he deduces and I hope (and wish) that I could do similar things myself.
I think the ending is a little lame, but as I read the book, I was wondering how Crichton was going to end it. The ending is certainly is plausible and closed the storyline, and I certainly cannot think of a better one, so I accept it.
Sphere is a great and suspenseful Michael Crichton novel. Yes, I realize that I am one of the few people on the planet who did not read Michael Crichton decades ago, but I was glued to the story from the minute I started reading and I can see why the novel had so much success. I highly recommend Sphere, by Michael Crichton.