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Summary

With nods to Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, the real science of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves and a touch of Hugh Howey's Wool, this is a powerful tale of space travel, adventure, discovery and humanity.

In 2088 humankind is at last ready to explore beyond Earth's solar system, and astrophysicist Reggie Straifer knows where we should go. He's discovered a distant anomalous star that appears to defy the laws of physics. It could be a weird natural phenomenon, or it could be alien.

Convoy 7's mission to discern the nature of the star's strange qualities will use vast resources and take centuries, so in order to maintain the genetic talent of the first crew, clones will be used for the expedition. But a clone is not a perfect copy, and each generation has its own quirks, desires, and neuroses.

As the centuries pass, their society changes and evolves, but their mission remains the same: to reach Reggie's mysterious star and explore its origins - and implications.

A mosaic of discovery, Noumenon successfully examines aspects of the human condition with a touch that is both thrilling and poignant.

©2017 Little Lost Stories (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Reminscent of the best of Foundation

The heart of Noumenon, the reason it works and the most evocative thing about it, is its structure. This is true of both the convoy and the book.

The titular Noumenon is a convoy of nine ships sent to a distant star to analyse anomalous signals. Even with the sub-dimensional FTL travel, it will be a generational mission, over centuries. In order to give the mission the best chance of success, potential crewmembers are analysed and selected, not just for launch, but forever: they will be continually cloned, replaced by themselves, maintaining the balance and make-up of the crew. This single decision has ramifications for the society and the mission down the generations

Like Asimov's early Foundation books (and Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, though the sections here are longer than that book), Noumenon the book presents a series of events of the evolving society, each chapter skipping ahead in time to new characters (albeit familiar from cloning) and showing us how earlier decisions, earlier actions have played out. The solution to a problem in one chapter becomes the cause of the problem in the next, and at each step the characters must solve the problem as best they can for the here and now, with whatever knowledge and limited foresight they have.

Threaded throughout and tying everything together is the convoy's AI, ICC, the only truly consistent crewmember and the one charged with maintaining society and ensuring the success of the mission.

Like Foundation, Noumenon creates such a plausible sequence of events that you stop seeing it as a work of fiction and begin to believe it as a detailed future history. You're pulled along not by seeing what happens to an individual character, but by seeing the ramifications of earlier stories. It's as powerful a work of hard social science fiction as Foundation ever was, and that's the highest recommendation I can give it.

24 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very little sci-fi for a si-fi book

Started with a good idea , lost it in the middle and stretched the end.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Stopped midway - boring as hell

Some review compared it with "Seveneves" by Neal Stephenson - well, it's nothing alike! Seveneves was brilliantly written with a very catchy plot, good sense of humor and interesting characters. Even though the reader's performance was sometimes overacted, I still couldn't stop listening. This one is not very well performed either, but on top of that it's plain boring on top of boring. I was waiting and waiting for something that could catch my brain and ear for no avail, until I just stopped it midway. There is so much bad scifi written in the World, that I don't want to waste my time on one more. It kind of reminded me of "The Magellanic Cloud" by Stanislav Lem - an author I admire overall, but he wrote this book apparently just to please the communist regime and it was as bad and boring. Waste of my audible credits...

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

sociology not science fiction

An interesting look at a society's evolution but missed many opportunities for good science fiction

5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Avoid unless you're being paid to write a review

For as far as I could put up with listening to it, this book is naive and pointless. The storyline is disjointed. The story itself seems utterly pointless with pedestrian dialogue based on flawed progression of the story, truly awful characterisation, and hopeless, if any, comprehension of science. On top of which, as an audiobook, the narration was terrible too. But that may not be the narrators' faults given what they had to work with.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Aspiring to be dull

This is an extraordinarily dull book. So dull that I could not manage to maintain focus on the turgid and stereotyped politics on the ship. Despite a promising first hour or two it descends into a predictable story of on board politics.
Performances are pedestrian, storylines do not surprise or excite.
I would write more but this book has left me with barely the will to return it and swop it for something, indeed anything, else!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great multi generational space story

I really liked this story, some very goodnand new ideas (to me anyway)
looking forward to next installment

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Incredibly Disappointing

A series of short stories with no point. No resolution. Fine - It’s the first of a series - but it isn’t remotely self contained. Won’t be reading the rest. I recommend avoiding this.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A superbly entertaining story

Following the different generations of a convoy of human clones tasked with travelling to a star and back, Noumenon is the story of a society changing for better and for worse. It's also the story of ICC, the Inter Convoy Computer changing from an expert system with a personality overlay, to a sentient AI whose primary goal is the success of the mission.

In one sense the novel lacks coherence and getting to know characters is impeded by them dying off, but the constant of ICC pulls that together and gives us someone to root for.

I enjoyed it and will read the succeeding novels in the trilogy.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking story, epic in scale, well narrated

This is a very unusual story with each chapter being of a different time period. Conceptually strong with a big dose of socio-political content - really quite a commentary on the challenges of our societies today. It took a while to get going but I liked it a lot, and will read the inevitable sequel. The narration was excellent.