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Alpha Centauri [Mass Market Paperback]

William Barton , Michael Capobianco
2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 1998
The year is 2239 and the overburdened Earth groans beneath the weight of 200 billion people. By century's end, the human race will have ceased to exist.

The last salvation of humanity is traveling with the crew of the starship Mother Night, on a colonizing mission to Alpha Centauri.

But a terrorist plague has infiltrated the ship, planting the seeds of failure and extinction in every man and woman on board.

And a miraculous relic of an earlier doomed race awaits them of journey's end: a puzzling and impossibly ancient artifact that offers hope beyond all mortal comprehension. . .or stands as a grim harbinger of the impending death of everything human.

From the visionary co-authors of Iris and White Light comes a remarkable sf adventure that explosively combines danger, suspense, political and sexual intrigue as it moves ingenious concepts and unforgettable characters across the cosmos at light speed.

Product Details

Product Description

From Library Journal

From a grossly overpopulated Earth in 2239 A.D., an exploratory colonization mission to Alpha Centauri finds Mies Cochrane carrying an autovirus inside him that, after sexual intercourse, halts conception?the perfect birth control. The explorers discover the remains of an ancient civilization and a way to see what caused their extinction through the eyes of the last, long-dead inhabitant. The authors (Iris, LJ 2/15/90) make a strong statement about overpopulation, solutions to it, and humanity's purpose for existing. This thought-provoking book, a mix of sexually explicit passages and scientific exposition, is recommended for adult sf collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

With its population grown to more than 300 billion, Earth in 2239 dispatches an exploratory team to Alpha Centauri. But there is a problem, a schizophrenic named Mies Cochrane, infected with "autoviroids" by a malevolent intelligence called Indigo. Whenever Mies has sex with a woman, he renders her sterile. Thus this particular crew, at least, will never populate the stars. Intriguing, but Barton and Capobianco go ballistic, seldom allowing the reader to escape from sex and sexuality: Mies with women, Mies with a man who has changed into a woman, women with women, until the reader is not only baffled but in agreement with Indigo that the race isn't worth saving. A shame, since the hard sf here is beautifully done, including a breathtaking ride on a storm-tossed alien ocean at two Gs, and an ancient race, complete with cosmology, restored through virtual technology--grand stuff, but Heinlein is rolling in his grave, even so. John Mort --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
This book starts out with a promising premise, but someone along the road must have decided that it wouldn't sell without graphic sexual content, including child sex and unnecessary intense descriptions of sexual torture and molestation (I felt the author must have been ENJOYing writing about the rape of a little girl). There is even a character whose sole purpose, due to an organization called Indigo, is to have sex with as many women as he possibly can. Admittedly, I didn't read enough to find out why.
The characters would have been believable, except that they are all motivated singularly by sex (no WONDER the Earth, in this novel, is overpopulated with 40 billion people). I can't figure out why this isn't marketed as porn. It would have saved me and many others from spending money on it.
The book is composed of alternating scenes of scientific babble and sexual escapades. Since it was written by two different men, I had the impression that they took turns at the computer, with one of them writing all the techno-jargon scenes and the other writing all the pointless sex.
Don't buy this marketing mistake, unless you're into sci-fi porn (no, seriously).
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2.0 out of 5 stars Compolicated and boring Feb. 16 2004
By big_k
This is an "Extremely" challenging book, a little sci-fi a little sexual fantasy. Containing many high vocabulary and self-created words. Reading the first half of the book took an effort, nevertheless once the twist and turns come together the story reveals itself. Reading the first part of this book could possibly be the most boring thing I've done, the story was taken out of order then mixed up. To understand and to be able to start enjoying this book I had to get threw at least the first hundred pages.
The story Alpha Centauri moves very slow, therefore you will encounter lots of boring and meaningless parts. This story focuses mainly on teamwork, emotions and most of all sex, which over time could get old and extremely boring, with little changes in plot and style. Also the author often skips off the middle of a topic and moves to a totally unrelated subject.
If you are looking for a sci-fi with lots of confusing parts and twist in the story, and you are a hardcore reader with high vocabulary, who is willing to spend months to read a book, Alpha Centauri could very possibly be your book. Other wise don't waste your time trying to read it, go find something more meaningful to spend time on.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Stupid premise but some good ideas Dec 17 2003
I thought for a while I was in the middle of a sexual fantasy - a horny stream of consciousness that slipped from one scene to another. The authors continually fell into this mode as if that would make it somehow "literary". The premise is my biggest problem. To sum - it's the future and earth has 40 gazillion people who have squandered all the resources so mankind must find a new home. How fortuitous that one awaits (or so we hope) at our nearest star neighbor.
First, population growth has been revised downward by the UN two times in the last ten years due to decreasing birth rates around the world. Secondly, why would a society that creates starships not use artificial products instead of "using the Earth's resouces". If all the Earth's resources are used are people living on the magma core? And the idea that salvation comes by traveling to another star (at a cost so great one could literally rebuild Earth) is a solution? It is if the Earth is going to be destroyed but the task of starting over on a new world is so mind-boggling that it makes the Earth's problems seem petty.
Good parts: The VR machines (neat!), the discoveries, the resident evil and the ending.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, painful, melancholy, but fascinating Feb. 27 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a difficult book to like. It does however strive to be what science fiction should be, which is a literature of ideas. As such, it presents an unflinching examination of the darker, complicated aspects of human nature and a profoundly unsympathetic cosmos. I am immediately reminded of the desolate final scenes of H G Wells' The Time Machine or the ruthlessly Darwinian universes of Stephen Baxter's Manifold stories.
In this novel, a group of explorers from a crowded solar system coming close to its malthusian limits arrives at the eponymous stellar system. They are part of an exploration fleet searching for potential colony sites that may be the salvation of humanity. They uncover the ancient ruins of an alien civilisation, maybe two civilisations. The solar system is threatened with total collapse whereas these aliens seemed to have kept their civilisation running for billions of years, but then they finally became extinct. Their worlds are ancient, depleted, but what caused them to die is not as simple as it may seem, and may be a warning to humankind.
What they learn about these beings seems horrible, but their are strange parallels with their own situation. Barton and Capobianco refuse to draw a sharp line between good and evil. They show the compulsions of hunger and sexuality as being intrinsic to life: they may be good, they may be vicious, but they are inseparable from the process of living. Human characters and aliens ephemerally resurrected through advanced simulations each display some aspect or other of the conflicts of desire, purpose and virtue.
To their credit, the authors allow even the apparent villains the qualities of intelligence, sympathy and the need for love, no matter how awful their actions.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling Book
I was expecting a sci-fi book. I was not expecting the graphic sexual nature of the book. I was so appalled by chapter two that I returned the book to the store. Read more
Published on May 18 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Distasteful and horrible
This is not a completely fair review since I didn't get past page 50 (and I got this far only because I was in a carwash and had nothing better to do). Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2002 by Dana
2.0 out of 5 stars Interminable...
There is some interesting sci-fi in this novel, but not enough to push the (rather gratuitous) sexual themes into the background. Read more
Published on Dec 9 2001 by "brother_francis"
1.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not for everyone.
A bleak story in an even bleaker future, wound together in an amazing novel. I've noticed that many reviewers here seem to be put off a bit by the amount, and sheer oddity, of the... Read more
Published on July 23 2001 by Brian209
1.0 out of 5 stars If I could give this book zero stars I would!
Avoid this book at all costs. A waste of time to read let alone stomach. I was interested in the background of a dreadfully overpopulated Earth, and a exploration to Earth's... Read more
Published on June 26 2000 by Mistrmind
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Intruiging premise but the end was a letdown (yes, I did finish it, in spite of the fact that I got fed up with the gratuitious sex... found it mostly unnecessary to the story). Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Finish the book no matter how you feel
I think that it is just as confusing to write a review of this book as it was when I first starting reading this book. But here it goes. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly plotted, badly written and a complete waste of time
I bought this in the airport hoping to have something to read on a trip to New Orleans. Crediting the authors with writing a distrubing but failed vision of the future is simply... Read more
Published on Oct. 25 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Intruiging, profound hard-sf...but not without flaws
Nearly everything about "Alpha Centauri" was powerful and dramatic, with the characters, the science, the politics, the aliens, the technology, etc. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 1999
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