Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Destination: Void by Frank Herbert

Destination: Void (original 1966; edition 1978)

by Frank Herbert

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
951149,132 (3.23)18
Title:Destination: Void
Authors:Frank Herbert
Info:Boston : Gregg Press, 1981, c1978.
Collections:Your library, Fiction

Work details

Destination: Void by Frank Herbert (1966)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Frank Herbert is author of one of the most outstanding science fiction works in history, Dune. Many people are unaware, however, that there were five sequels to Dune. The reason that most people are not familiar with these sequels is because they became so increasingly dense and philosophically difficult to read, that readership steadily declined as the series progressed. While Dune is not without its philosophical nuances, Herbert “jumped the shark” in the later installments.

Herbert also wrote The Dosadi Experiment which despite owning a graduate level degree and being quite widely read, I found to be so far over my head as to be virtually unreadable. Which brings us to this relatively short work, which I selected for its compact size and brevity, for consumption on a four day hunting trip.

There is enough underlying story and action to make this science fiction work readable, but barely. It follows a ship load of clones that are ostensibly making the four hundred year journey to Ceti Alpha. However, the official justification for the journey is really a ruse to hide the real mission; development of a “conscious” artificial intelligence at a safe distance from the inhabited universe, with built in “fail safes” in the event of disaster. This is the sixth such mission, the previous five having “disappeared”.

Herbert fleshes out the underlying story with page after page of not only philosophical musings over the moral and ethical components of such development, but actual biological and technical steps required to achieve the goal. Of course, I’m sure most of the big words and highly technical language is largely BS, or else such an artificial intelligence would be present. However, there is not one in 100,000 that could make heads or tails of this endless stream of blather. I have to wonder exactly what audience Herbert is actually writing for. Either Herbert is one of the most intelligent people to have ever lived, or he wanted us to consider him such. In any event, he would have been better served to write at the Dune level as opposed to the God Emperor of Dune level. ( )
  santhony | Jan 13, 2017 |
Another try at Herbert. Not as good. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
  JosieRivers | Dec 28, 2014 |
This book crushed my skull and made my brain meats ooze out of my nose hole. The plot hinges, ostensibly, on a project to create artificial consciousness, but what it really becomes is a discussion and deconstruction of what IS consciousness. Really enjoyable and thought provoking, both as a science fiction adventure and as a novel of ideas. ( )
  benjamin.duffy | Jul 28, 2013 |
At the age of fourteen, Destination: Void (the revised edition published in 1978) was mystifying to me -- at least that's the way I'd of probably described it then. I knew as much about computers or artificial intelligence as whatever I'd seen in either the "cutting-edge" computer flick of the time, War Games (1983), or in the older, but what still seems cutting-edge to me even today, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

The second time I read Destination: Void, soon after The Matrix (1999) had come out, I thought Herbert was ahead of his time (especially considering the original version was published in 1966) as so much of what I saw on the screen in The Matrix seemed so familiar from the world Frank Herbert built in Destination: Void; namely, the physical connections and intertwining he envisioned between hi-tech, futuristic computer gadgetry and human flesh. Herbert's novel inhabited a cold detached world where expendable clones explored space in a rigged experiment, "Project Consciousness," aboard a spacecraft, the Earthling, automated by shutdown-prone, highly problematic OMCs ("organic mental cores"): Euphemism for "baby brains" that had been extracted, allegedly, from only "terminal cases." Potential bioethics snafus and the moral complications of cloning were being conceptualized in depth by Herbert and other science fictionists of his day a good thirty years before Dolly made cloned sheep international news.

Today, having recently encountered the book at a second hand shop, I grabbed it and read it with great interest again, curious to see how the dense novel of ideas had evolved in my perception the third time around, almost three decades since first reading it, and nearly a half-century since it's publication.

My appreciation for the book's title has never waned, steeped as it is in nihilism. At fourteen, I didn't have enough life experience, certainly not enough crushing disappointment, to feel the weight of that desperate word, "nihilism," but I knew it loomed mysterious, possibly romantic and definitely dark, in my imagination. Despite the book's title, Herbert was rarely a nihilist in his philosophy or writing (excepting his story, "The Nothing," and bitter novel, The White Plague) or eclectic life experiences, be it journalist, photographer, author, ecologist. Several of his book's titles, in fact, were suggestive of deeper, spiritual leanings, denoting as they did some vast Ineffable that might exist out there, somewhere, in the Cosmos, be it with his SF novels, The Godmakers and The Heaven Makers, or in his lone but no less speculative novel that wasn't sci-fi, the heart wrenching, Soul Catcher*.

The OMCs, those fragile organic mental cores, the literal brains of the Earthling, hardwired into the ship's computer, soon shorted out and died, as they were designed to die, poor babies. Could the Earthling's computer, then, first help its crew create an artificial OMC to monitor and maintain vital drives it wasn't plugged into, and do so in time before those deactivated drives made the Earthling go kaput? Maybe, but probably not. Because the mission's managers (none of whom were clones) who'd hatched their draconian, A.I. enterprise, as the suspect "Project Consciousness" for no doubt nefarious designs that exceeded the expressed for outcome of some supposed artificial consciousness, knew damn well that the crew lacked the skills, resources, and most importantly time necessary for success in such an impromptu, crash-course in creating an A.I. aboard a spaceship swiftly hurtling toward oblivion. Failure was their only option. Their destination? Destruction. And yet a fate hardly as bad as occupying some nebulous sounding locale known only as "Void".

But (and there's always a big "but" in what appears at first blush to be hopeless, sci-fi crisis-scenarios in hard sci-fi), what the scientists back on Earth couldn't have possibly foreseen, was the full extent and range of the Earthling's computer's intuitive capacity. Yes, the reader needs to suspend disbelief at this point, but this reader didn't mind. For no one could have hypothesized that the Earthling's computer, in the process of assisting the crew as they attempted to create an artificial intelligence, an OMC, to salvage their mission and save their lives, would so completely identify with the Earthling's chaplain/psychiatrist, Raja Flattery, it would create for itself instead an artificial faith -- and in so doing become a self-styled Roman Catholic hellbent on ultimately "converting" the crew (most of them in deep hibernation), who'd be awakened, theoretically, should the crew on deck discover a new planetary Eden (or maybe an unearthly Hell) to colonize.

Arthur C. Clarke's and Stanley Kubrick's computer, Hal, the iconic IBM 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey infamy (published two years after Destination: Void), was a pussycat-computer next to the megalomaniacal nut job the Earthling's computer became. A devout computer-of-the-cloth that founded its own hybrid cult based on Raja Flattery's Catholicism, and enmeshed its own strange circuitry with stranger icons it misunderstood, per its idiosyncratic, literal divining of Raja Flattery's prayers and expressive faith, so that by the end of the story it demanded of the unbelieving, apostate crew, that they do something preposterous, something dreadful, something insane ... or else!

Destination: Void was originally published in 1965 as "Do I Sleep or Wake" in Galaxy magazine. The novel would later serve as the prequel for Herbert's lesser known series, "The Pandora Trilogy," co-authored with Bill Ransom, in which they explored the long lasting consequences of a rogue computer that almost, but not quite, went Jim Jones on the crew of the ship it was supposed to protect and serve. Comprising the trilogy were The Jesus Incident (1979, in which Jesus Christ himself makes a cameo appearance on a planet not named Earth), The Lazarus Effect (1983), and The Ascension Factor (1988), the latter published posthumously, two years after Frank Herbert's death. I recommend them all, especially to those interested in science fiction that's fascinatingly infused with spiritual themes and religious imagery.


* Prior to Soul Catcher's publication, several of its readers pleaded with Frank Herbert to change its devastating ending. But Herbert refused. ( )
12 vote EnriqueFreeque | Jul 21, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Herbertprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craddock, AllanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
It was the fifth clone ship to go out from Moonbase on Project Consciousness and he leaned forward to watch it carefully as his duty demanded.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hybernating 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. An emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: to create an artificial consciousness in the Earthling's primary computer, which could guide them to their destination . . . or could destroy the human race. Frank Herbert's classic novel that begins the epic Pandora Sequence (written with Bill Ransom), which also includes The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect, and The Ascension Factor. Prequel to Herbert & Ransom's Pandora Sequence.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
17 avail.
16 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.23)
0.5 2
1 7
1.5 2
2 18
2.5 2
3 41
3.5 9
4 26
4.5 4
5 17

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,415,350 books! | Top bar: Always visible