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Sphere

Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 13 hrs
4 out of 5 stars (345 ratings)

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Editor reviews

"Crichton keeps us guessing at every turn in his best work since The Andromeda Strain." (i>Los Angeles Times )

Summary

A classic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton, Sphere is a bravura demonstration of what he does better than anyone: riveting storytelling that combines frighteningly plausible, cutting-edge science and technology with pulse-pounding action and serious chills. The gripping story of a group of American scientists sent to the ocean floor to investigate an alien ship, only to confront a terrifying discovery that defies imagination, Sphere is Crichton prime - truly masterful fiction from the ingenious mind that brought us Prey, State of Fear, and Jurassic Park.

Sphere was made into a film directed by Barry Levinson, which starred Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson.

©1987 CrichtonSun LLC. (P)2015 Brilliance Audio

Critic reviews

"Crichton keeps us guessing at every turn in his best work since The Andromeda Strain." --Los Angeles Times

"A page-turner with oomph.... Crichton's writing is cinematic, with powerful visual images and nonstop action." --Newsweek

"Sphere may be Crichton's best novel, but even if it ranked only second or third, it would be a must for suspense fans." --Miami Herald 

What members say

Average customer ratings

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

Buy Crichton a thesaurus!

Interesting story ruined by overuse of the word "said".
Sounds silly and might not be as noticeable when reading the book, but when someone is narrating it to you it becomes very noticeable and annoying. After every bit of dialogue the author uses "said" . Never "ted asked" or "Beth suggested" "Harry quipped " "Norman gasped" etc ... Just "Said"

During conversations between two or more people it is almost unbearable-
Ted said
Harry said
Beth said
Harry said
Ted said
Ted said
Harry said
Beth said
Ted said
Ted said
Ted said
Ted said
TED SAID!!! Wouldn't be as bad if the guys name wasn't Ted!

I started calling the book "what Ted said" out of frustration. Honestly how this was overlooked by the editors is beyond me.
It's my first Crichton book and it will be my last I think. I was expecting better from someone as lauded as him but I found the below GCSE English level of the overuse of "said" to be very poor and unimaginative, if the narrator hadn't done a decent job of putting some life into the characters words then you wouldn't get a feel of how the characters were talking at all.

As mentioned, the book has a very interesting plot, let down by some strange choices to make the scientists come across as smart one minute and quite dumb the next ( scientist studying marine life , knows a lot about snakes but didn't know who Medusa was ) and the unimaginative, emotionless and lazy use of "said"

Ted said
Ted said
Ted said......

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Sphere

A story with interesting potential, well read but spoiled by the over use of "said" as remarked you other reviewers

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • KM
  • 19-07-18

Stereotype characters and bored narrator

This book should have been exciting. However, it was marred by some seriously stereotyped characters (black man and women both with chips on their shoulders etc). The narration was generally monotone and sounded like he was sad or bored throughout. Which meant that, by the time the climax was reached, I didn’t care about the myriad of plot holes, I was just happy it was ending.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • JC
  • 12-02-17

Very Poor Performance

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A great story, by a great author, unfortunately completely ruined by a very boring monotonus reader performance.

How could the performance have been better?

By being read by someone completely different

3 people found this helpful

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

Nope.

Nothing anybody does makes any sense. There are long, pointless, circular conversations, but unfortunately Crichton doesn't know any verb to indicate speech other than 'said.'
There's no real tension, no real insight into characters' motivations, and no satisfactory explanation for their irrational actions.

5 people found this helpful

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

Flawed but OK for its time

From a modern perspective, the characters in the story are so blinder than Three Blind Mice as to what's going on, even to obviously suspicious developments in the story. I acknowledge that the author didn't have TV Tropes back then, but still... If that frustrates you to no end, skip this book.

Overall I think the story has an OK premise, but a modern reboot/reedit would be more accessible to an audience used to the modern writing.

The narrator is a bit weird, if that makes sense. He puts a but too much emotion into certain parts and almost sounds desperate. It's quite annoying at times.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic storytelling

A great example Crichton. I loved the air of mystery through the book. A must read!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderfuuly Written & Performed!

In short, I found this story to be wonderfully written and performed brilliantly by Scott Brick!
The story is so fascinating with some quite unexpected twists too. I do wish that some aspects of the story was explored more, like the spacecraft for example. Overall, despite the story being a tense and exciting journey, I found the ending so disappointingly lacklustre that its slightly tainted the entire story for me.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

bad narration

Very slow and annoying narration. Could not listen to this without getting really frustrated and also sleepy!

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

It's a bit silly, in a serious sort of way.

Would you consider the audio edition of Sphere to be better than the print version?

No. It's about on a par, but not better. The novel relies on a lot of numbers being represented on the page, especially with regard to Jerry, and this is hard to put across in spoken word. Brick is a good reader, and his laconic style fits the book well.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was a bit Deus Ex Machina, wrapping up everything rather neatly, but it was also the only ending that would make sense. I've read the book, so it wasn't a surprise, but it would be if you didn't know what was about to happen.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Rather the other way round - scenes with Ted were excruciating. Obviously intended to be so, but he's portrayed as such an irritating and annoying personality it's a wonder he wasn't bundled out the airlock at the first opportunity.

The beginning is much better - setting the scene and the exploration of the chip.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me wonder what I'd do if I had the power. I doubt I'd be any better at control than the characters in the book.

Any additional comments?

It's really quite a silly book. Even for science fiction, it's ridiculous in plot and scenario. Only Chrichton's skill at storytelling - and Brick's spoken word - make it worthwhile. I'll certainly listen to the first half again, but will probably lose interest for the latter part.

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  • RJ Reviews
  • 12-06-18

An exciting thriller at the bottom of the sea!

Norman Johnson is a psychologist specialized in how stress affects group dynamics. He is often called out by the FAA to help survivors of plane crashes and their families deal with the aftermath. So when he's escorted by the US Navy out to the South Pacific he assumes a plane has crashed into the ocean.

It turns out to be something far stranger.

Once upon a time, a younger Norman, desperate for grant money, wrote a report for the government about how to handle first contact with alien intelligence. He said abject terror would be the result when humans were confronted with the unknown. Now, he is about to put his hypothesis to the test. A thousand feet beneath the ocean, something has been found. A craft that has been down there for at least 300 years.

A team of scientists, recommended by Norman, and a group of navy personal are tasked with uncovering what is and, if anything is alive, how to communicate with it. Staying in cramped quarters, surrounded by the crushing depths of the sea where a small mistake could get them all killed, the pressures are incredible. Can Norman keep the group functional when the discover the Sphere lurking in the heart of the craft?

Crichton's Sphere is an interesting take on the first contact with aliens story. It's told from the psychologist point of view and it delves into many aspects of emotional reactions and Jungian's theory of the shadow self. Personalities conflict and clash. The unknown lurks around them, affecting them all as they struggle to understand just what they have discovered.

And that's before things start going weird. Cricton goes a great job setting up the mystery and how it affects the characters. The answers for the story are found if you read carefully. But that's not what the story is truly about. It's about how people handle stress and how they can rise to the occasion, or break beneath the strain. It's about what people can do when they're taken to their limits. The Sphere, the mystery of it, is merely the catalyst around which Crichton has penned this excellent character study.

One of my favorite Crichton novels, blending suspense, emotion, and wonder with a pervading miasma of dread hanging over everything.

59 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel Chalenburg
  • 25-10-19

Crichton: Good storyteller, Bad writer

Seems like an oxymoron but Crichton is a bad writer. EVERY expression of dialog is "he said" "Beth said" "Ted said" "said" "said" "said" "SAID" No "replied", "asked", "retorted", "exclaimed", "laughed", or any other word in the dictionary that describes a character's spoken word.

That is why I gave it 4 stars. The story is great. Very interesting, a good twist(s?), decent suspense, good character actualization (the things the characters do and say even though they always "said" them). AMAZING RESEARCHER. There were several places that he could have skimmed over details but you can tell he took the time to research what would actually happen and wrote it. I appreciate that.

But anything and everything thing a character says is" SAID." Even if it's a QUESTION!!! HOW DO YOU "SAID" A QUESTION!?!?

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • BookReader
  • 01-06-16

Sphere

Any additional comments?

Written by Michael Crichton way back in the mid 1980s, this unabridged audiobook edition was released in 2015 and is narrated by Scott Brick - about thirteen hours of listening.

If you’re looking for a written duplication of the movie, this is not gonna work for you! Although trite, I’ll say "The book is better."… and Hollywood’s twist completely messes with the story.

In a plot similar to Crichton’s Andromeda Strain, written in 1969, a diverse group of scientific people are brought together to what they all believe to be a plane crash in the mid-Pacific. A biologist, mathematician, astrophysicist, etc., in addition to Norman - the group psychologist and the lead character of Sphere, are tasked with determining what happened - and they are soon to understand, determining what exactly rests 1000 feet below the surface, since it is not an airplane. Crichton even repeats the physical examinations required to handle the sea habitats of Sphere as apposed to the bio-habitat of the Andromeda Strain. Albeit completely different stories, these initial fundamentals are virtually identical.

Sphere is a decent SciFi, written with the somewhat pedestrian style of Crichton. Not earth shattering prose, just good storytelling that will hold your attention. If you like SciFi or if you like Michael Crichton, you’ll enjoy. Author of such mega-hits as Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton died in 2008. His books are slowly moving into the SciFi classic category and are must reads for anyone interested in the genre. SciFi nerds will approve of considerable techno-babble detail and Crichton’s attempt at credibility.

Scott Brick does a terrific job, nice reading.

A fun listen.

95 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Kindler
  • 28-09-16

20,000 leagues under the Sea with the Sphere

I don't remember the depth of the lab but it was deep and what happened there was strange and left you guessing till the very end. I don't think that this is one of Crichton's greatest pieces but it is brings up powerful fears for readers. The ocean isn't very well understood in places and the imagination can be even stranger. When the two come together you get a wild ride into the unknown and left helpless while the characters are struggling. Great book if a little weird.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Nurse_Franklin
  • 04-04-20

not worth the read

Literally the book to no where. I wanted to love this book so much, just kept waiting. got to the end dissapointed

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • waelse1
  • 01-03-16

Fun sci-fi page-turner

Very entertaining page-turner, it brings up interesting ideas about aliens, black holes, time travel. Mostly though it's about the characters and their struggles to deal with the menace and survive. Enjoyed it a lot.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Ashley Needles
  • 21-10-19

Said, Said, Said

Bad dialogue tagging, ending disappointed. Had a good plot, great chekov's gun structures. Failed emotional arcs. Character development was mediocre at best.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lana Lee Plum
  • 04-02-17

Undersea life

Loved being propelled into life at 1000 feet under the sea. The mix of people on this navy experiment allow me to explore several scientific studies through the characters that were on the trip. Narration was excellent. Kept me fascinated through out the story.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Natalie
  • 06-04-16

Exciting even if you've seen the movie

What did you like best about this story?

I'm going to admit that I committed the ultimate sin and read the book because I enjoyed the movie rather than vice versa. Even though I knew the basic story I found the book suspenseful and exciting. The characters are better developed and more three dimensional in the book. Their motives were more understandable and their characters were more diverse.

Any additional comments?

Even though I will always enjoy the movie I feel like it did the book a disservice. The book gives more scientific explanation. The characters are more intelligent. Those touches made the whole world feel more believable. They were trapped for a reason. The manifestations all happened for a reason. The giant squid was a character in the book rather than a plot device. I loved it.

34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 21-05-16

THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH HARRY

NOT THE UNDERWATER HOLIDAY INN
Crichton, underwater habitat, space ship, STUPID ALIEN, black hole, time travel, giant squid, conspiracies, and a plethora of science talk, what more do you want? I am pretty sure you could not cram more Science Fiction goodness in one book and keep it so good. I loved the movie (with Dustin Hoffman), which is a little different and has great special effects and is very scary and I love the book. Very entertaining and like all Crichton books, you will learn something. This is a must read for anyone who wants to be considered well read in the Science Fiction Field. Scott Brick does a wonderful job.

87 people found this helpful