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As on a Darkling Plain by Ben Bova

As on a Darkling Plain (1972)

by Ben Bova

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266342,770 (2.9)3



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This is the prequel to Bova's debut novel the Star Conquerors. It answers the question what is the purpose of the Great Machines on Titan. These machines get a brief mention in Star Conquerors yet the implications of their presence is the motivation behind the entire trilogy. The story revolves around three central characters involved in a love triangle, scientists Syndey Lee and Marlene Ettinger, and soldier/astronaut Bob O'Banion as they try to uncover the secrets of the Great Machines. The book is a series of vignettes. Each chapter is a separate story highlighting the lives of each of the principle characters. It also functions as a fairly good first contact story. This aspect of the story is by far the best part of the book. The overall feel of the novel is that Bova is experimenting. In some of the chapters all of the plot points come together nicely. In others the reader is left wondering if there should be more than is presented. Its like Bova wanted the reader to fill in the empty spaces on their own. This is particularly true of the ending. This novel serves as a good look at Bova's early writing style, given that was the 10th fiction book of 84 he would write, plus another 34 non fiction books on a wide variety of science topics. The book is a good short novel and worth reading. ( )
  Cataloger623 | Sep 22, 2017 |
Part of a loose series about the presence of a long-standing threat to Earth, this is a fast-moving, three-act story about the mysterious, colossal machinery found on Titan. Scientists seek the answers to why they are there, knowing that the future of the human race could be at stake. Set against it is a love triangle and the effects on it of relativistic travel. Especially liked the midsection story. Excellent story, nice ending, excellent pacing. Works well as a standalone novel. ( )
  NickHowes | Nov 19, 2015 |
This book is awful.

I hate to put it so bluntly, especially since I am a writer myself – in other words, I know how tough it can be to write a tightly plotted novel – but this one is just inexcusably bad. An entire dream sequence is accidentally repeated almost word for word in two separate chapters. (Hello, editors?) It has no flow whatsoever. The dialog is embarrassing. Characters do things inexplicably, suddenly, without any precipitating decisions or choices.

Okay, it's just bad, bad, bad. If you want to try reading Ben Bova, don't read this one. It's a stinker. ( )
1 vote Toiler | Jan 17, 2007 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Bovaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kidd, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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