Cover image for The spheres of heaven
The spheres of heaven
Sheffield, Charles.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Riverdale, NY : Baen Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
440 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Sequel to: Mind pool.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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OR LOSE EVERYTHING Spacer Chan Dalton is torn between two masters. The pacifist aliens who hold Earth under Quarantine want him to find out why their starships have been disappearing in the Geyser Swirl, the Bermuda Triangle of the galaxy. Earth's military, which has secretly discovered a way to break the quarantine, assumes that someone out there is making ships vanish, including Earth's, and wants Dalton to find the culprits and hopefully stop them -- with extreme prejudice, if necessary. The trouble is, the aliens hold the taking of intelligent life, even in selfdefense, to be the greatest of sins. It was Earth's violent ways (in defense of the damned pacifist aliens ) that led to the quarantine in the first place -- and if Dalton is forced to fight, it will unveil, and so destroy, Earth's final chance to reach for the stars again. So when Dalton does indeed discover the hostile invaders responsible for the lost starships, he is faced with an impossible decision: Fight and lose access to space forever; or allow a rapacious enemy to run riot over all that he holds dear...

Author Notes

Author and scientist Charles Sheffield was born in Hull, England on June 25, 1935. He was the chief scientist of Earth Satellite Corporation and while there, wrote numerous technical papers and two non-fiction books entitled Earth Watch and Man on Earth. He won numerous awards for his science fiction works including the 1992 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Brother to Dragons and the 1993 Nebula award and the 1994 Hugo award for Georgia on My Mind. He wrote numerous series including the Heritage Universe series, Jupiter series, Cold as Ice series, and Proteus series. He died of cancer on November 2, 2002.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Set about 20 years later in Chan Dalton's career than the events of The Mind Pool (1993), this hard-science adventure finds humanity still quarantined by the nonhuman sapients of the Stellar Authority for having killed other intelligent life-forms. But a Stellar Authority ship is missing in the distant Geyser Swirl, and humans are the best candidates for finding and rescuing it. Under retired General Dag Korin's command, Dalton tracks down most of his old colleagues and sets off in a recycled warship. Meanwhile, a human expedition is already deep in the swirl, on a planet it has named Limbo. By the time Dalton's company arrives, nearly everyone on Limbo needs to be rescued from the militaristic Malacostracans, who have occupied it because of its strategic location at the nexus of links to many alternative universes. The yarn's tight plotting, economical but vivid characterization, and abundance of ideas argue that Sheffield continues to be an authentic sf master. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nebula and Hugo winner Sheffield (Convergent Series) takes a thoughtful stab at pacifism and its attendant possibilities in this engrossing sequel to The Mind Pool. In the past, Chan Dalton was forced to disband his motley crew of spacefarers when the Stellar Group, an alien pacifist outfit, banned the human race from space exploration because of its violent tendencies. Twenty years later, without frontiers or aims, human society is stagnating and crumbling. Called upon to track down stolen starships, Chan and his group are given the chance to pick up where they left off and visit uncharted regions of space. When Chan's gang reassembles, they receive instructions to refrain from violence of any sort--even in self-defense. But the first intelligent aliens they meet are warlike: the Malacostracans (a species resembling a cross between lobsters and spiders) are interested in conquest at any cost. When they capture several members of Chan's group, Chan faces an impossible question--should he resort to violence to free his crewmates, forsaking humankind's access to space forever? Is there any other way? In several places, coincidences pile up unconvincingly, and certain dangerous situations are wrapped up too easily. But Sheffield incorporates quantum physics (he is a mathematician and physicist), well-documented space travel and plenty of action into a smooth narrative. Readers of hard science fiction will find the story right up their alley. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Banned from interstellar travel for their aggressiveness, humans have one last chance to regain the stars, provided they can solve the mystery of the disappearance of a pair of alien ships lost somewhere in the unknown part of space known as the Geyser Swirl. This sequel to The Mind Pool continues Sheffield's far future history of humanity's attempts to explore the universe. His skill at blending hard science with fast-paced plotting and colorful characters makes this a first-rate sf adventure that belongs in most libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.