“In the middle of the South Pacific, a thousand feet below the surface of the water, a huge vessel is discovered resting on the ocean floor. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old” – Sphere back cover copy
To make their blurb both descriptive and enticing, authors often summarize plot details from the first few chapters or even the entire book, leaving less to be discovered and surprising. Sphere’s captivating summary gets you to page 12.
The rest of Crichton masterful novel follows a team of scientists who descend into the depths to investigate the craft. The mystery and suspense continue long after the team discovers the truth of the craft, centered mostly on the eponymous sphere, an item of unknown origin but seemingly great power.
Very early on, Crichton’s trademark character—the brilliant but awkward, never-wrong thinker—concludes the only logical outcome to the recent events is that no one will survive the expedition.
From conception to publication, most of Crichton’s novels journeyed for only a period of about five years, including the extensive research conducted. Sphere’s same development took allegedly twenty. It shows.
The revelations seen during the story are well-timed and increasingly enticing.
About midway through the book, the cast is cut to a mere three characters, and the remainder of the narrative wonderfully plays off their growing paranoia and cycles through the two-on-one possibilities.
If you love his other works, such as Jurassic Park, the Andromeda Strain, and Timeline, Sphere might not be the book for you. Crichton’s science-heavy brand of science fiction tackles the more speculative disciplines of psychology and astrophysics, even straying into fantasy territory as it touches on fears, imagination, and the supernatural.
To his credit, even a Crichton fantasy is highly believable.