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Heart of the Comet (1986)

by Gregory Benford, David Brin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,032413,901 (3.67)2
Gregory Benford and David Brin come together in this bold collaboration about our near human future in space. Prescient and scientifically accurate, Heart of the Comet is known as one of the great hard SF novels of the 1980s. First published in 1986, it tells the story of an ambitious manned mission to visit Halley's Comet, alter its orbit, and mine it for resources. But all too soon, native cells-that might once have brought life to Earth-begin colonizing the colonists. As factions battle over the comet's future-and that of Earth-only love, courage, and ingenuity can avert disaster and spark a new human destiny.… (more)
Recently added byprivate library, nelsam, kstahl10, SethBowman, aeceyton, QLibrary-Light, BookHavenAZ, FortWalker, 3j0hn
  1. 20
    2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: The stories of both books are quite different, however both explore landing on Halley's Comet
  2. 00
    Earth by David Brin (sturlington)
  3. 01
    The Quiet War by Paul McAuley (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Both have strong themes of colonization and bio-engineering.

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» See also 2 mentions

English (3)  Italian (1)  All languages (4)
Showing 3 of 3
"Heart of the Comet" held my attention and was quick read for me. It raised many question for me to ponder. All these ideas were mixed into an passable action adventure story. ( )
  arning | Sep 14, 2015 |
The plot concerns an attempt to colonize Halley’s Comet.

I would not say that Heart of the Comet is a great novel. It is hard, hard science fiction, which can make it difficult to follow for many readers. Characterization is often sacrificed for exploring the many ‘what ifs’ posited. But regardless, this book did get me thinking and actually even changed my mind about something, both signs of a book that’s worth reading.

In the future, hibernation technology has been developed, so it is possible for the story to follow the same set of characters over 100+ years as they convene with the comet, build their colony and settle in underground chambers for a trip to the outer solar system, then back around the sun.

There they discover that primitive life is already established on the comet. At first, it is a battle for survival as the molds and worms, multiplying in the heat generated by the colony, almost take over the habitat while causing a plethora of deadly diseases. But the colonists eventually adapt to the alien lifeforms and even enter into symbiotic relationships with some of them in order to better survive their hostile environment. The comet’s life becomes sources of food, light, even protection for some from the vacuum of space, while the colonists change too in their relationship to that life — they are no longer strictly human anymore. This incites a conflict with the people back home on Earth, who are terrified of allowing the comet back into the inner solar system, forcing the colonists to accept that Halley is now their permanent home, and where are they going to go?

There is a lot more going on in this book, which I won’t get into, but the principle thing the novel got me thinking about was how adaptable humankind is. It seemed perfectly believable that we could settle in such an implausible, hostile, alien environment and not only survive, but make it home. This got me thinking about global warming. Yes, the effects of global warming may be devastating to our current way of life, but maybe the approach of trying to stop or reverse it isn’t the best one. Maybe we should be thinking instead of how we can adapt to the changes, and how we can make the changes work for us.

Adaptability has been our greatest weapon in the battle for survival as a species, after all. I’m not arguing that we need to make all of nature over to suit us, bend it to our will — this approach has clearly caused the problems we are now facing. But we should be thinking about how we can adapt ourselves to these changes, while using our ingenuity to survive the period of change.

A book worth reading is a book that helps you think about the world in a new way. Heart of the Comet was such a book for me. ( )
1 vote sturlington | May 13, 2010 |
Great work of sci-fi, an interesting idea explored and thought out with hard science and great characters. ( )
  jwcooper3 | Nov 15, 2009 |
Showing 3 of 3
In this, the Year of the Comet, the reader is well advised to be cautious in the selection of reading matter with Comet in the title. Many comet-ose works of fiction and nonfiction are appearing on the racks to cash in on the swell of public interest. This cautionary note in no way applies to "Heart of the Comet," a scary, poetic, exciting, and ultimately encouraging novel that will be on recommended reading lists long after Halley has returned to the remote outer reaches of the solar system.
An uneasy collaboration, then, bulging with ideas but with all the seams and patches showing: promising work that cries out for a thoroughgoing edit and rewrite.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Benford, GregoryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brin, Davidmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Abrams, AprilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brumm, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eggleton, BobIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gutierrez, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hamagami, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perry, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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