The Mind Pool Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1 1993
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"... Awash with new ideas". -- SF Chronicle
Top Customer Reviews
This is a difficult book to get into. Initial chapters are tedious and there are a lot of key characters who inter-develop as the the book continues which devolves quickly into a confusing mess. Sheffield's humour barely holds the story together as empathy with the main, distant and too many, characters seems close to impossible, and the reader is expected to take in a little too much, from different technologies to the behaviors of three wildly different species. The book, initially, also seems to live up to its back-cover synopsis, which in science fiction can be a bad thing, especially if the synopsis seems to be written to appeal to John W Campbell.
The novel is saved by a number of factors: Sheffield's humour, naturally, helps. Certain characters become fleshed out and sympathetic. Some time about half way through the novel the pace and understandability of what is going on becomes quicker and easier. And then there's an absolutely beautiful twist concerning the very subject of the novel - and I say beautiful not just to describe the twist itself but the subject matter and the novel at that point, which just turned my opinion of the book on its head.
This is a flawed novel. You should read it anyway.
What I find intiguing about this story is the description of three very different alien species and how they are thrown together with humans, the only "aggressive" species, to form a team. However, I felt that this particular plot point wasn't dealt with in an engrossing manner. The whole novel felt somewhat pieced together and was shorter than it should have been. The catalyst for the story, the Morgan Construct that poses a threat to the universe and the teams are sent to find, felt almost forgotten and I was unclear what role it served in the story except as a launching point.
I enjoyed the story, but there were so many aspects to this universe that I would have liked to learn about and I felt like none of them were really explored in any depth. There was a subplot that was apparently left out of the original version of this story, called The Nimrod Hunt, that I felt was a hinderance to the story rather than adding anything and the author added back in merely because he was fond of it. The ending was somewhat confused and just seemed to stop and I wasn't really satisfied. I think I will pick up another of his books that isn't a rewrite of an earlier story and see how I like it.
One interesting theme he had is contrasting the human species' penchant for aggressiveness and violence with the lack of those characteristics in the other two sentient races humans encountered in their stellar expansion. I've often wondered what kind of impression we'll make on other races (assuming there are any) when and if we come into contact with them, and after they have had time to try to understand who and what we are. He also had an interesting idea for the expansion of the human race into interstellar space (actually, more of a reconnaissance), and that was a constant launching of probes in all directions that expanded our frontier at about half the speed of light -- something analogous to an expanding bubble.
I would quite cheerfully hand this, along with, say, Pohl's Heechee series, Vance's Araminta Station, Asimov's Foundation Trilogy (and sequels), something by Phillip K. Dick, Blish's A Case of Conscience, and a classic Heinlein like Double Star and say, "Well, if you don't like any of these, then you will never like real science fiction."
Most recent customer reviews
The Mind Pool is a very odd book. For one thing, the story is very obtuse and quite frankly, boring. Read morePublished on Feb. 9 2003 by Adam Missner
This book seemed to be a reprise of Golden age science fiction, in a world where technology is the saviour of all, people are ethical, honest, hard working, updated with a dash of... Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2001 by Chris Bickford
I've long enjoyed Sheffield. The first I read was My Brother's Keeper. Since then I've enjoyed his imagination and creative stories. Read morePublished on July 26 2000 by Cero Gobnicht
Sheffield's imagination is WAY out on the fringe. The book was definitely unpredictable, but not in an exciting way. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 1999 by kankan
I loved this book! The best Sci-Fi is rich in new ideas as well as intriguing characters, and this book excels in both areas. I couldn't put it down. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 1999
This is an exciting read full of original sf ideas, but the conclusion is vague and doesn't make much sense. Read morePublished on Aug. 24 1998
This is a good book; but although the finale is unpredictable, it seemed rushed and vague. I had a hard time trying to visualize some of his descriptions, but the story itseslf... Read morePublished on Aug. 23 1998
Hi-tech, drama and excitement, aliens, superb plot and sub-plot, totally unpredictable... I agree, I like Charles Sheffield (probably) too much but this is definitely one of the... Read morePublished on Jan. 7 1998 by Avram