The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hibernating colonists en route to a new world at Tau Ceti, is stranded beyond the solar system when the ship's three organic mental cores - disembodied human brains that control the vessel's functions - go insane. The emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: build an artificial consciousness in the Earthling's primary computer that can guide them to their destination - and hope it doesn't destroy the human race.
Don't miss Frank Herbert's classic novel that begins the epic Pandora Sequence.
©1966 Frank Herbert (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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"For Devotees Mostly"
The author explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and the consequences of creating an artificial intelligence that is self-aware.
Destination Void's a fairly difficult read and an even tougher "listen." Herbert's writing is dense with techno-babble and conceptual exposition. I had to, at many points, go back several paragraphs and re-read. Listening to the audiobook demanded extreme attention - and even then it was difficult to 'follow' the story in anything but a superficial way.
I cannot recommend the audiobook despite Scott Brick's excellent narration. This is a book that must be read to be understood. If then ...
"At turns intriguing and frustrating"
I first heard of this book in a Modern Scholar audiobook on Science Fiction (also available on Audible). I later came across a paperback copy of this book for a long time, but flipping through it I could tell this would be a book I would have a hard time wading through. The audiobook version proved me right!
On the one hand, this book has intriguing concepts about artificial intelligence and the dangers in creating it. The characters are basically forced into a situation in which they have to create a functional AI under duress. The ways they are manipulated, and their efforts to produce a mechanical analog to the human brain using their ship did create many neat and thought-provoking moments.
On the other hand, the book is filled with technical details that went right over my head. Herbert seems to have done quite a bit of work to make this a piece of Hard SF, but the problem is that the kinds of machinery he bases his work on (huge computers with magnetic tape readers, tons of plugs and relays, and a fraction of the computing power of my laptop) make the book quite dated. I'm not a luddite, but I wonder if someone more steeped in the technology of the time would have an easier time following the logic of the character's building process.
Also, the characters at times seem more less like round characters and more like vehicles to have a discussion about AI. Much of the book is spent with them chucking scientific revelations at one another followed by philosophical introspection. It felt too contrived.
Scott Brick's superb narration made this audiobook readable (or listen-able, I guess). It's a difficult text to begin with, but his efforts brought out the drama and its nuances. If he wasn't the narrator on this one I am uncertain as to whether or not I would have downloaded it.
I knew this would be a difficult book going in, and since I plan on listening to the next book in the series, The Jesus Incident (which from the reviews I have read is much more readable for a contemporary audience), I am glad I picked up this one.
I would recommend this book to die-hard Herbert fans looking to branch out from Dune and Hard SF geeks interested in how AI was discussed before the digital revolution. Casual science fiction listeners will be put off by all of the technical discussions of dated technology.
"A mental exercise"
A very deep and complex book. I found too much of it to technical jargon to enjoy. The story itself is explained very simply in the first chapter of the second book.
Scott Brick's reading was what I found interesting in this book. The way he read chapter after chapter of electrical hook ups and definitions of consciousness.... I applaud his masterful skill.
I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as an introduction to Herbert's writing.
"Difficult to follow"
The book was difficult to follow due to constant change of characters. Usually I have no problems to listen an audiobook, having it in the background. But with this one, I forced myself into listening. The concept is really interesting and the philosophical ideas are worth exploring but I'd rather read a physical copy of Destination: Void.
"Best for fans of Hard Sci-Fi"
If you are looking for something like Dune, I would suggest book 2 (the Jesus Incident) onward. Destination: Void is very much a hard sci-fi novel exploring specific theories of consciousness, philosophical themes, and their connection to engineering - all of which is expounded upon in great detail and (sometimes a bit tedious) minutia. Hard sci-fi isn't for everyone, but if you are a fan this might well hit the spot.
If you love Herbert for character work, scope, and pacing (of the kind seen in Dune), you might want to dig out the short story DV was expanded from, skip this book, and jump right to Book 2 - which has more of an action/adventure sci-fi feel. But if you want a truly challenging and fascinating book that will stick with you and cause you to think deeply, albeit a bit dryly, then Destination: Void is a great choice.
The last few pages of this book are really worth the ride. That last line.... WOW!
One of my all-time favorites. This audio version is fantabulous! Very pleased with this purchase.
Scott Brick does a phenomenal job conveying the weight and intricacies of this book. Fantastic
"Frank Herbert at his intellectual best"
Liked it but didn't love it. The engineering party was interesting but dated. what I liked more was the philosophical discussion of consciousness.
If you're a sci-fi aficionado, then this needs to be in your library.
"Unique and provocative"
Frank Herbert's shows his ability to speak through Void's characters his own conversation with historical thinkers' in the debate about the nature of consciousness. Written decades ago this book is still in touch with many of the critical questions about the nature of artificial intelligence and the consequences of its creation. I read this book 3 times and continue to enjoy it.
I very much enjoyed this book. The story developed throughout the whole story and peaked right at the marvellous ending.
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