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The Ghost from the Grand Banks [Mass Market Paperback]

Arthur C. Clarke
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 1991
A hundred years after the sinking of the Titanic, two of the world's most powerful corporations race to find a way to raise and preserve the doomed luxury liner. The quest to uncover the secrets of the wreck and reclaim her becomes an obsession . . . and for some, a fatal one. "Filled with . . . unique insights. . . ."--Los Angeles Times Book Review. HC: Bantam.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Setting his novel in the near future, close to the centennial of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic , SF luminary Clarke ( Childhood's End ) spins an initially ingenious scenario that only partially fulfills its potential. Two mammoth corporations strike a deal to raise the long-submerged luxury ocean liner. Parkinson's of London wants to recover a set of priceless Andrea Bellini glassware; Nippon-Turner is looking for publicity for a number of new products. Both intend to open underwater amusement parks; because the Titanic split in two parts upon sinking, each company will raise and exhibit half of the ship. But due to a variety of natural causes, the project goes awry. Clarke uses the attempted salvage operations as springboards from which to describe the technical, environmental and political changes in the year 2012. His skill as a raconteur and his accessible prose style are as engaging as ever, but his attempt to develop a secondary plot hinging on a mathematical game called the Mandelbrot Set takes the novel off course. The characters here lack dimension; and the various natural and personal disasters, which usually add to the tension, seem to be capriciously introduced without purpose. Though Clarke's speculations are both thought-provoking and entertaining, this work falls below his legendary best.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

As the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, rival corporations vie to be the first to raise the ship from its graveyard in the North Atlantic--engaging in a race that becomes an obsession and a rendezvous with the unknown. One of sf's most enduring authors brings his spare and graceful style to bear in this sf tale that is part adventure, part tribute. For most sf collections.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
Clarke is a visionary, and he has prophesized some incredible ideas long before they were mainstream. He continues to explore fascinating scientific thoughts and insights in this book about the raising of the Titanic. However, I find that the book has no central focus. Attempting to use the Titanic as a focal point, Clarke jumps from story to story -- about the Mandelbrot Set (a fractal pattern that is self-replicating), an invention in the field of windshield wipers, automated undersea exploration, and the lives of several diverse characters -- while never focusing the story on any overlapping theme or circumstance. In fact, the story of the Titanic is written off early on and given very little play. It seems Clarke would have been better off simply writing an essay about new technologies instead of wasting the readers time with simple plot twists, one dimensional dialogue, and emotionless characters.
Mr. Clarke is still, in my eyes, a great visionary thinker. He also writes a good sci-fi story. However, this one certainly isn't it. Read it for the ideas, read it for the insights, but please don't read it for the plot.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 3 and 1/2 Stars July 8 2000
Format:Hardcover
This is not a bad book, but for an Arthur C. Clarke novel, it is something of a disappointment. Although the concept of sub-plots is common in Clarke's works (and indeed, in all of science fiction) it is taken too far here. The whole long sections about the M-Set, the Millennium Bug, the inventions of Roy Emerson, and the homelife of the Craig family have no relevance to the actual plot of the book, and those sections encompass the heart of the book. Yes, the M-Set is interesting, but it should've been allowed it's own book if it is this important (even a 15+ page essay on it is included after the story). Meanwhile, the Titanic saga is relegated to almost side story status. Now, don't read all that and think I didn't like the book. I did. It's just that most of Clarke's other works are so much better (even the oft-critized 3001). Not a bad Clarke, but for the love of God don't start your collection here. Spring for Childhood's End, 2001 or 2010, or Rendezvous With Rama first.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Can you say "too much detail" ?? July 15 1998
Format:Hardcover
I wish I could share in the other reviewers' enthusiasm for this work. I've read many other Clarke novels, and frankly, I don't feel this one is up to par. It is a quick and entertaining read, however, and not without its charms; but there seems to be too much information. At first, it leads one to believe that some events may lead to something later in the book, only to fade into obscurity, as merely a diversion.
I do share Clarke's fascination with the M-set, being an armchair mathematician and computer programmer, and it is wonderfully described in the text, but I fail to see the relevance to the overall theme of the story. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't think so. I'm glad I didn't pay full price for my hardcover copy (I picked it up at a Library book sale for $.75), so I think I got my money's worth for the 260-odd pages (also short for a Clarke novel). It would have been better as a short story.
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Format:Hardcover
Arthur C Clarke's book is eerily prescient - especially with its whole chapter devoted to the Millennium Bug. It is clear that Clarke was himself suffering from 'Mandelmania', and you do feel at some points as though the references to the M set are there just so that he could include them, and not really for narrative enrichment.
That said, though, it is a good back story of attempts to raise the two sections of the Titanic from the floor of the Grand Banks (hence the book's title). I won't give it away here, but one of the suggested salvage solutions is almost poetic in its aptness for the situation.
The books is of course peppered with Clarke's usual insights, and observations that genius, once executed, always seems so obvoius in retrospect.
I hadn't read any Clarke for some years until I picked up this (going through a bit of a Titanic phase at the moment, see), and I have to say that the writing style here was somewhat reminiscent of William Gibson - not in terms of cyber-jargon, but in the 'fleeting detail' style so familiar in Gibson.
Right at the end of the book, Clarke takes a great leap forward, and, in a similar fashion to other books of his I've read, I don't think this works too well. I think he writes best when his crystal ball is set for short range prophecy...
Overall, though, a good book - and I'd expect it to become more popular as the centenary, 2012, approaches...
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