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Artifact A small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb.An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, its purpose, and its origins are unknown.Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft and espionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war.Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains Artifact A small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb.An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, its purpose, and its origins are unknown.Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft and espionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war.Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth.It is mystery and madness -- an enigma with no equal in recorded history. It is mankind's greatest discovery ... and worst nightmare. It may have already obliterated a world. Ours is next.


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Artifact A small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb.An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, its purpose, and its origins are unknown.Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft and espionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war.Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains Artifact A small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb.An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, its purpose, and its origins are unknown.Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft and espionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war.Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth.It is mystery and madness -- an enigma with no equal in recorded history. It is mankind's greatest discovery ... and worst nightmare. It may have already obliterated a world. Ours is next.

30 review for Artifact

  1. 5 out of 5

    deilann

    Originally posted on my blog, SpecFic Junkie. If you can handle misogynistic, xenophobic, americancentric novels with shallow plots, poor characterization, and severe genre identity issues as long as the science is good, you will love this book! The sad part? How often you have to put up with all of that, just for a little hard scifi. A tall, unattractive (but striking) woman whose thighs make a "scchk" noise when she walks in jumpers and wears garters rather than pantyhose is constantly sexually Originally posted on my blog, SpecFic Junkie. If you can handle misogynistic, xenophobic, americancentric novels with shallow plots, poor characterization, and severe genre identity issues as long as the science is good, you will love this book! The sad part? How often you have to put up with all of that, just for a little hard scifi. A tall, unattractive (but striking) woman whose thighs make a "scchk" noise when she walks in jumpers and wears garters rather than pantyhose is constantly sexually harassed and propositioned as she does highly illegal and unethical things because archaeology and foreign people are evil and have laughable politics. Haha, let us laugh at Greece's plight! No, literally. They giggle over the workers issues. Then hells yeah AMERICAN SPIES come and save the day from quantum badness. No one ever remarks on the fact that if America had never stolen the artifact, it would never have become super dangerous. Which, in my opinion, is the best part of this awful, awful book because it's such a great metaphor for so much of the US's foreign policy. If we hadn't done something stupid, we wouldn't be cleaning up this muck! Mmm, by the by... part of the reason we know so many details about the female protag is because male characters are constantly undressing her with their eyes. The first chapter is from her POV, and basically sets the urgency of the book... the urgency being that Evil Greek Politician Archaeologist is sexually harassing her at her dig site and because she won't sleep with him, he's going to kick her off the dig but no, she found something cool and the Evil Greeks can't be trusted with their own legacy! Also, he might steal her credit! Because he's Evil and Greek! In the second chapter, she goes to find a metallurgist to help her with some stuff and things. We get treated to her talking to a guy about archaeology and then get to (from his POV) hear how he's less interested in her science and more interested in finding out what she looks like without her clothes on. In fact, we later find out that he lied to her about being a metallurgist because she was so hot he couldn't control himself and couldn't let her go to Greece without him getting a chance to hit that. No mater where the protag goes, she's sexually harassed. To the point it feels like the author is trying to write a romance novel for a bit and failing terribly. (Or awfully succeeding, depending on how you look at it.) But then the two of them hook up and it decides to be a boring spy thriller instead. With a lot of mathematics and quantum theory. Oh, some people complain about this book having Too Much Science, at least on Goodreads. I found the science content pretty light, especially for hard scifi. I feel like it should be accessible to those who have a decent understanding of quantum mechanics? I don't know why you'd want it accessible to you, but whevs. Don't read this book. There are hard scifi authors out there, who don't fail terribly. You don't have to put up with shoddy writing and a plethora of isms just to get some good science.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    'In a 3500-year-old Mycenaean Tomb, an artifact has been unearthed. An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, purpose and origins unknown. Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth. It is an enigma with no equal in recorded history and its discovery has unleashed a storm of intrigue, theft and espionage that is pushing nations to the brink of war. It is mankind's greatest discovery… and worst nightmare. It may already have oblit 'In a 3500-year-old Mycenaean Tomb, an artifact has been unearthed. An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, purpose and origins unknown. Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth. It is an enigma with no equal in recorded history and its discovery has unleashed a storm of intrigue, theft and espionage that is pushing nations to the brink of war. It is mankind's greatest discovery… and worst nightmare. It may already have obliterated one world. Ours is next.' Blurb from the 2001 orbit paperback edition. I find myself being rather ambivalent about Benford novels. Admittedly, the science is as accurate as it possibly could be, and if it does get above some people's heads, Benford has provided an afterword in which he gives a 'Quarks for Dummies' lecture in some of the more important aspects of subatomic particles. 'Timescape' is a novel which, although listed in Pringle's '100 Best SF Novels', is rather dull and lacks pace and background colour. 'Foundation's Fear' suffered from both a lack of characterisation and a sense of disjointedness in that the narrative was attempting to follow both Seldon and a pair of resurrected AI simulations. 'Artifact' however, is a very readable if lightweight piece, but does have its faults. In structure it resembles very much the outline for a film including a short prologue sequence (which in a film would be shown before the main credits) set 3500 years in the past before the next chapter brings us bang up to modern day at the same location. Claire Anderson is a feisty Boston Irish archaeologist excavating a Mycenaean tomb under the watchful eye of the Greek authorities, while Greece itself is transforming into a One-Party Socialist State. Kontos, a brutish Greek archaeologist turned politician, is attempting to oust the Americans from the dig. Claire then discovers a strange cube within the tomb, carved from black stone with an amber cone protruding from the forward surface. Tests on the cube produce curious results. It is, for one thing, radioactive. Kontos proves to be a lecherous Greek as well as a Socialist. After a final showdown Kontos has the cube packed up, prepared to claim it as his own find. Claire and US mathematician John Bishop return to the tomb and reclaim not only Claire's notes but the cube, which they feel quite entitled to carry off to the US with them. Benford makes no attempt to question the moral basis of this. Indeed, it seems implicit within the text that such an act is necessary as the US is the only country capable of examining and learning the secrets of such an object, and the Greeks of course, would only be interested in it for its military capabilities, while the Americans, God Bless them, would be concerned only for the pursuit of science and the artifact's peaceful applications. The Greeks attempt to reclaim the artifact, but are thwarted, so they declare war on Turkey instead. This may seem a flippant over-simplification of Benford's portrayals, but had he attempted to put some shades of grey into depictions of the two races this would have been a far superior book. The American characters are uniformly honest, decent people while the Greeks are two-dimensional caricatures; corrupt, devious, lecherous and violent. On a Hollywood level, America (and indeed the UK if one considers Bond movies to be representative of British cinema) often gets away with portraying evil foreign regimes in this cliched way, but one could argue that many recent productions of this type are aware of the ironic nature of their depictions, which border on self-parody, particularly in the case of contemporary Bond movies and Vin Diesel's 'XXX' One expects an author in this day and age, particularly an SF author, to be more aware of the political and social nuances. No regime is truly evil. No democracy is truly good. Sadly, the whole badly thought out political nonsense tends to detract from the artifact itself, a natural trap for two bound singularities (like two big quarks) one of which has been jarred loose but is returning like a heat-seeking monster to find its twin. It's a shame really. If there were less of the political and racial polarisation, this could have been something half decent.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Walters

    A science fiction novel that started out with a very intriguing prelude and ended up having WAY TOO MUCH scientific calculations and information for the average reader to even understand and care about....the characters were interesting enough and the story would have been much more fun to read if it had omitted at least 250 pages of scientific jargon that was repeated over and over without giving the average reader a clue of what it really meant. Pretty dull book with some moments of intrigue, A science fiction novel that started out with a very intriguing prelude and ended up having WAY TOO MUCH scientific calculations and information for the average reader to even understand and care about....the characters were interesting enough and the story would have been much more fun to read if it had omitted at least 250 pages of scientific jargon that was repeated over and over without giving the average reader a clue of what it really meant. Pretty dull book with some moments of intrigue, mystery and romance.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I have read and enjoyed almost every scifi epic Greg Benford has written. I search for his books everywhere, hoping a new one comes along soon. This one was painful. My recommendation: read Part I, then jump to Part IV. You missed: “Thing found in Greece makes it way to MIT” There I saved you 150 pages of agonizing wooden dialogue and travelogue. The rest of the book isn’t bad. Had an interesting ending, sort of.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul Darcy

    by Gregory Benford, published in 1985. ‘Artifact’ is essentially a physics idea brought to life by author Gregory Benford. Now, I must admit, I find Benford’s works a bit dry but this one I actually liked quite a bit. The ‘Artifact’ is found in Greece by our very strong female protagonist Claire and conflict erupts like a volcano almost from the first page. A joint dig is taking place between the US and Greece, but the leader of the Greeks is a detestable, but crafty womanizing, boor. You just know by Gregory Benford, published in 1985. ‘Artifact’ is essentially a physics idea brought to life by author Gregory Benford. Now, I must admit, I find Benford’s works a bit dry but this one I actually liked quite a bit. The ‘Artifact’ is found in Greece by our very strong female protagonist Claire and conflict erupts like a volcano almost from the first page. A joint dig is taking place between the US and Greece, but the leader of the Greeks is a detestable, but crafty womanizing, boor. You just know where that is heading and indeed it does head there. Anyhow, the artifact is found by Claire and her coworker George and they hide it because it is so unusual. They conscript a Metallurgist (only he isn’t, he just works in the department - he is a mathematician) to come to Greece and do some tests on the composition of the artifact. The artifact is a cube with an translucent amber horn sticking out of one side and doesn’t’ seem to fit any archaeological mold of the time of the tomb in which is was found. This is a grand adventure tale filled with spy thriller action and intrigue. Like I said before Benford doesn’t usually do it for me but I liked this one. All the political stuff with Greece at war with Turkey and whatnot had me yawning a bit, but the key elements of the story had me glued to the page to see if our protagonist and her accomplice John the mathematician could actually pull it off. If you are in to spy thrillers, then this one might appeal to you. If you are looking for a true science fiction you won’t get it here. I will say though that the idea behind this novel is pretty cool and Benford even has a technical explanation in the back to detail the theories behind what the artifact actually is. I won’t tell you because that may spoil it. I would recommend this for a pretty decent read, but not go out of my way to - if that makes any sense. Good solid Benford work and better than others of his I’ve read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michaela

    Stereotypical characters who ogle the female protagonist throughout the entire book and the plot was a little too heavy on the archaeology side and had very little to do with the singularity and actual science. I made it through the entire thing because it was mildly interesting and I love Benford, but this was mediocre at best. If you're deciding between two books to read and this is one of them, go with the other. Stereotypical characters who ogle the female protagonist throughout the entire book and the plot was a little too heavy on the archaeology side and had very little to do with the singularity and actual science. I made it through the entire thing because it was mildly interesting and I love Benford, but this was mediocre at best. If you're deciding between two books to read and this is one of them, go with the other.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emmett P

    Strange but technically stunning and compelling to the end. Found it in a used book store and bought it because I liked the cover. I wouldn't search out the author again but the book was great. Strange but technically stunning and compelling to the end. Found it in a used book store and bought it because I liked the cover. I wouldn't search out the author again but the book was great.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    You really need a physics degree to follow this one, and I don't have that degree. Fortunately, I do have advanced math and some engineering physics under my metaphorical belt, otherwise I would've been completely lost when reading this book. As it was I was only lost about half of the time. All the elements of a good story are here, a mystery, interesting characters and conflict, but the author just doesn't seem to know how to pull it all together successfully. For every step the plot or charact You really need a physics degree to follow this one, and I don't have that degree. Fortunately, I do have advanced math and some engineering physics under my metaphorical belt, otherwise I would've been completely lost when reading this book. As it was I was only lost about half of the time. All the elements of a good story are here, a mystery, interesting characters and conflict, but the author just doesn't seem to know how to pull it all together successfully. For every step the plot or character development advances, you're slapped with a load of technobabble. A little science is good, too much and you're writing a technical manual, not a sci-fi novel. I really was intrigued by this mysterious artifact and what it ended up containing, and by the character conflicts, but overall it was just impossible to focus on any of that when trying to wade through yet *another* round of math/chemistry/physics lectures. Give this one a miss, unless of course reading textbooks is your idea of a good time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charl

    I skimmed the reviews complaining, in essence, "Too much science!", and after reading it I have to assume that those were written by people who don't read much hard science fiction. As usual with Benford's work, the story is founded on some pretty esoteric science, but I never felt overwhelmed or burdened by it. He gave enough to understand it, and didn't ever go overboard with it. If you like hard science fiction, enjoy. I skimmed the reviews complaining, in essence, "Too much science!", and after reading it I have to assume that those were written by people who don't read much hard science fiction. As usual with Benford's work, the story is founded on some pretty esoteric science, but I never felt overwhelmed or burdened by it. He gave enough to understand it, and didn't ever go overboard with it. If you like hard science fiction, enjoy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Walker

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Excellent scientific thriller about the attempts to locate and contain a monopole. Benford does a great job describing how science is really done.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eli Bishop

    I have to admit that this review is based on having speed-read Artifact so that I only picked up maybe 20% of the words. I don't normally do that, but I couldn't help it once I realized that my plan to break out of a months-long not-reading-anything rut by picking up a guaranteed sugar rush—an old Gregory Benford technothriller that, as I remembered from having flipped through it in an airport bookstore or something long ago, is about physicists and military creeps fighting to possess an ancient I have to admit that this review is based on having speed-read Artifact so that I only picked up maybe 20% of the words. I don't normally do that, but I couldn't help it once I realized that my plan to break out of a months-long not-reading-anything rut by picking up a guaranteed sugar rush—an old Gregory Benford technothriller that, as I remembered from having flipped through it in an airport bookstore or something long ago, is about physicists and military creeps fighting to possess an ancient plot object that probably contains a tiny black hole or the like; cool!—hadn't taken into account that Benford, when he's in setup mode and doing a lot of mundane international intrigue stuff while keeping the cool science thing mostly offstage, can be unbearably boring and kind of unpleasant. He is way too into this filler material: endless travelogue passages, endless arguments with stereotyped foreign antagonists about who has authority over what… and at least 10,000 occurrences of the male protagonist thinking that the female one is really hot, while she is thinking that he's a sexist oaf but there's still something strangely fascinating about him, etc. (will his condescending thoughts about her repressed emotions turn out to be exactly right? will they eventually get together and produce a few hasty sentences of cringe-worthy sex prose? what do you think?). That's basically the first two-thirds of the book and I was not digging it in the least. I persevered only because I wanted to see the cool science thing, dammit. And eventually you do! There follows some procedural lab mystery stuff, and Benford (a retired astrophysicist) is, as usual, quite good at writing about scientists doing their jobs; they even turn into somewhat more interesting characters as long as that's going on. The theoretical physics stuff is pretty cool and, I think, not too badly explained although I have no idea whether it's interesting if you're not such a science nerd. Then the villains return and cause a bunch of escalating problems with the artifact and we're chasing it across the ocean floor and the book is suddenly a really entertaining technothriller with very little chaff. This could have all started about 200 pages earlier so I can only assume that Benford had a vastly excessive page count obligation in his book deal, or else he just found himself really enjoying writing about vaguely described archeological proceedings, creepy romantic tension, and above all, tough guys arguing. Now, when you get toward the end of a book like this—where there is one main villain who has caused all this trouble by wanting to possess the dangerous SF object, and everyone is like "No, it's too dangerous, you don't understand!", and he's like "Raar, I will possess it, you can't stop me!"—there is really just one event you're waiting for. This event must happen. (Stop reading here if you really can't see where this is going and want to maintain suspense for the least surprising thing ever, even though the genre tradition really relies on you knowing how this works and eagerly awaiting it.) It must happen, and it does! Benford pulls out some pretty impressive and gruesome special effects as that guy gets his ironic just deserts (although it'd be more ironic if he'd actually brought this about by one last arrogant decision, like opening an Ark or something, instead of just randomly choosing to stand in the wrong place while menacing our heroes). It's the cheesiest possible plot resolution in an extremely '80s way, and I may have laughed out loud in appreciation of its shamelessness and its undeniably snazzy execution. Then there's a happy ending and some not-bad but very rushed "here's the SF explanation for some mythology" stuff. So that's my big reading achievement for this fall: maybe 20% of Artifact, out of which I can highly recommend maybe a quarter.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tome Addiction

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I not sure what to say about this book, it has a little Chrichtonesque techno-thriller feel, has archeological mystery, defiantly plenty of hard-sci-fi with the mystery of the artifact but I think it failed to bring it all together. It wasn't a total 3 as aspects kept me reading and other aspects I scanned due to the lack of interest and limited character development. In the end, it left me thinking and I couldn't just go on to the next book but the hangover didn't last long but the best part fo I not sure what to say about this book, it has a little Chrichtonesque techno-thriller feel, has archeological mystery, defiantly plenty of hard-sci-fi with the mystery of the artifact but I think it failed to bring it all together. It wasn't a total 3 as aspects kept me reading and other aspects I scanned due to the lack of interest and limited character development. In the end, it left me thinking and I couldn't just go on to the next book but the hangover didn't last long but the best part for me was the science but what I wanted was an archaeological mystery, 3.25-3.5, I want to give it a 4 but after more thought, it's just a 3 a good story take it or leave it. Spoilers: I think the story had an opportunity to be a great sci-fi mystery but Benford wasn't sure what he wanted to do, he spent too much time trying to explain the science of quarks in a cube and not enough energy (no pun intended) on the story that was set up in the beginning prologue. In the end, he didn't provide closure to the initial archaeological mystery and I found it interesting that an archaeologist was the lead on all the physics in the book. I think once the quarks were discovered that characters involvement, in reality, would have been limited to its discovery in the Mycenean tomb and how it got there but no this character has a thrilling adventure with the antagonist a Greek Arachelogist tied to the Greek government and political unrest in Greece in this story, there were some fluff action scenes with helicopters, boats, and guns that failed because they read like they were just thrown in. Benford needs to take lessons from Clive Cussler if he wanted to write that style of book. I enjoyed it because I liked the science and the mystery behind the science but the initial hook and subplot were lost once the new science-related subplot was presented. In the end, you learned a lot about quarks and he even dedicated the last chapter explaining the science in the book. But, the story of how it got there, was it extraterrestrial in origin, or any number of possible questions was lost on the characters trying to figure out the science behind the artifact until she figured out the physics of it all, I never knew and archaeologist could be so smart about physics. Yes, the last line was sarcasm.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    First off this is somewhere between "it was ok" and "I liked it" - so basically 2.5 stars. The premise is interesting - a large piece of black granite is found in the tomb of ancient Greek king. What appears as an archaeological mystery turns into more a science fiction novel. To get the most out of the story you will need a rudimentary knowledge of physics. If not there are large parts of the book that you'll most likely just jump over because it's too complex (even if it is in "Physics 101" la First off this is somewhere between "it was ok" and "I liked it" - so basically 2.5 stars. The premise is interesting - a large piece of black granite is found in the tomb of ancient Greek king. What appears as an archaeological mystery turns into more a science fiction novel. To get the most out of the story you will need a rudimentary knowledge of physics. If not there are large parts of the book that you'll most likely just jump over because it's too complex (even if it is in "Physics 101" language) You can't read if your eyes are glazing over. This is part Indiana Jones, science fiction, adventure, romance novel. I kept having to remind myself that this was written in 1985 and social attitudes have changed a lot since then. Claire Anderson, the main protagonist, is a well educated, smart female archaeologist who also wears pink frilly blouses, drives an Alfa Romeo (I wondered about how a professor could afford that) and stockings with a garter belt. Those little details diminished what could have been a very strong female character. The main protagonist is Kontos, a Greek military man who lusts after Claire and is not above deception and violence to get what he wants (the piece of black granite) The story starts off promising, bogs down around the middle, has what looks like a really good ending and then devolves into a happily ever after ending (bad guy vanquished and Claire gets married to her main squeeze from throughout the story) It's not bad. If it was tightened up a bit I believe the story would have been the stronger for it. If you're picky about your science fiction stories then I recommend you give it a pass. Despite the back cover lauding the book from the next Arthur C. Clarke, I can honestly tell you that Clarke is better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Russell Forden

    I really loved Benford's books Timescape and Cosm, but this is not one of his better ones. It's more thriller adventure than scifi, and boy does it need some editing! Large chunks of the first half, wherein our main characters Claire and John lug the titled object back to MIT Boston from Greece, could easily be excised without harm. The story and characterisations really border on being racist, American imperialist and sexist too. It's like Benford decided he'd have a go at writing a shitty airp I really loved Benford's books Timescape and Cosm, but this is not one of his better ones. It's more thriller adventure than scifi, and boy does it need some editing! Large chunks of the first half, wherein our main characters Claire and John lug the titled object back to MIT Boston from Greece, could easily be excised without harm. The story and characterisations really border on being racist, American imperialist and sexist too. It's like Benford decided he'd have a go at writing a shitty airport novel in the style of Dan Brown and others of his ilk. But, being Benford, there is actually some good writing here, and of course there's always some very good science too. Read it, like I did, if you're looking for some realistic science detail as research for your own scifi novel. Otherwise, forget it and head straight to Timescape or (especially) Cosm. Both great books.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

    I have to admit that the science was above my head and I totally gave up on the author's afterword explaining in greater detail. However, the author slips up when it comes to the humanities. A Vivaldi trumpet voluntary? Which one? The Greeks Mediterranean Catholic feelings? They are Greek Orthodox, for heaven's sake. The idea is quite interesting, an ancient artifact which has mysterious powers and is possibly the source of the Minotaur myth. I saw that straight away, it took the archeologist mo I have to admit that the science was above my head and I totally gave up on the author's afterword explaining in greater detail. However, the author slips up when it comes to the humanities. A Vivaldi trumpet voluntary? Which one? The Greeks Mediterranean Catholic feelings? They are Greek Orthodox, for heaven's sake. The idea is quite interesting, an ancient artifact which has mysterious powers and is possibly the source of the Minotaur myth. I saw that straight away, it took the archeologist months before the light dawned. The characters are mainly cardboard, particularly the evil Greek archaeologist, Kontos. The Americans are the goodies, sticking their noses into everything. The back cover says (in capitals) it may have already obliterated one world, ours is next. Oh yeah? Had the writer of the blurb read the same book as me? Neither of these happenings is even hinted at.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eric Lawton

    Appalling. Even as SciFi, the premise is not enough for a full length book. But as a misogynist and colonialist novel, it takes many sexust myths for granted and enthusiastically supports the theft, by the United States using heavily armed force, of artifacts from Greece. Defenders only have the excuse that it's a few decades old and that's how "we" thought, are refuted by characters in the book who opposed this, showing that people in those times objected to the bigotry, so people could have know Appalling. Even as SciFi, the premise is not enough for a full length book. But as a misogynist and colonialist novel, it takes many sexust myths for granted and enthusiastically supports the theft, by the United States using heavily armed force, of artifacts from Greece. Defenders only have the excuse that it's a few decades old and that's how "we" thought, are refuted by characters in the book who opposed this, showing that people in those times objected to the bigotry, so people could have known better, but the author portrays them as obviously foolish for rejecting male and US superiority.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Don DeBon

    While this is hard science fiction that might turn off some, if you like a good artifact story the you don't want to pass it up. The book might drag to those not interested in science in a few places, but one can skip that to "get back to the action" if you want without losing too much of the story itself (personally I found it fascinating). There is a lot of mystery and action in addition to the hard science I mentioned earlier making it a worthwhile read to more that those interested in hard s While this is hard science fiction that might turn off some, if you like a good artifact story the you don't want to pass it up. The book might drag to those not interested in science in a few places, but one can skip that to "get back to the action" if you want without losing too much of the story itself (personally I found it fascinating). There is a lot of mystery and action in addition to the hard science I mentioned earlier making it a worthwhile read to more that those interested in hard science fiction

  18. 5 out of 5

    Philip Snyder

    A sci-fi novel with actual science This work was a pleasure to read. A sci-fi novel with real, plausible science, what a concept! It has an after word that gives more depth of the science involved. Oh yeah, believable characters, great plot, it is a well constructed story. If you have not done so, buy it, read it, you'll be glad you did. A sci-fi novel with actual science This work was a pleasure to read. A sci-fi novel with real, plausible science, what a concept! It has an after word that gives more depth of the science involved. Oh yeah, believable characters, great plot, it is a well constructed story. If you have not done so, buy it, read it, you'll be glad you did.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mark O'neil

    Shockingly bad... Just takes SO LONG to get to the point and there isn't much of one.. Oh boy - the main female and male characters are pathetic and woman are portrayed as really feeble and inept. The Greek characters are cartoon like bad guys - sort of mustache twirling pantomime cutouts. Ok the idea is interesting but the way it's padded out...really? Shockingly bad... Just takes SO LONG to get to the point and there isn't much of one.. Oh boy - the main female and male characters are pathetic and woman are portrayed as really feeble and inept. The Greek characters are cartoon like bad guys - sort of mustache twirling pantomime cutouts. Ok the idea is interesting but the way it's padded out...really?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kludger

    I remember reading and enjoying this in the 80s when it first came out, picked it up on sale for a revisit, but found it really hasn't aged very well, it's filled with unnecessary sexist/racial bias parts of the story and I found myself cringing and skimming through much of it just to finish and know how it ends. I remember reading and enjoying this in the 80s when it first came out, picked it up on sale for a revisit, but found it really hasn't aged very well, it's filled with unnecessary sexist/racial bias parts of the story and I found myself cringing and skimming through much of it just to finish and know how it ends.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Munday

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Started great, lost interest at the end. The good guys win, the bad guy finally loses and then the book explains what you have reading about. Benford is a good writer, but this is probably not his best.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Brooks

    High hopes Because benford has written some good science fiction, but they were dashed as at about 80% through it turned into a thriller just trying to horrify between appearances of the deadly particle, and combat scenes that were pretty ridiculous. DNF

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Loved the science and the action but only 3 stars on account of I hated the female lead character, what an obnoxious woman she was.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tilmar

    archeologists find alien artifact in ancient tomb

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    The science here is fun. Other elements of this 1985 publication have not aged well. Gender is problematic throughout the book, but it is not the only problem.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pat Cummings

    Caught up in the action and thrills of an Indiana Jones adventure, we sometimes forget that Jones is a thief. In fact, he is the worst kind of thief the archaeological community knows. He steals unique antiquities, sneaking them away from their sites; and then sells them to collectors, destroying forever the intellectual value they might have had in situ. Gregory Benford's Artifact starts centuries ago, with a mysterious stone artifact being buried in a tomb. But each time we think we have th Caught up in the action and thrills of an Indiana Jones adventure, we sometimes forget that Jones is a thief. In fact, he is the worst kind of thief the archaeological community knows. He steals unique antiquities, sneaking them away from their sites; and then sells them to collectors, destroying forever the intellectual value they might have had in situ. Gregory Benford's Artifact starts centuries ago, with a mysterious stone artifact being buried in a tomb. But each time we think we have this story pinned firmly into a genre, it morphs on us; first Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , then James Bond and Dr. No . With another flashback to ancient times, we learn the cube-shaped artifact is an object of power; we see that some of the grave-diggers were entombed with it. Fast-forward to present day (or rather, to a mid-1980s "present" with a still-viable Soviet Union). The artifact has been unearthed at an archaeological dig. Because the nominal leader of the dig, American Claire Anderson, has a beef with Kontos, the swinish Greek she has been saddled with as "co-director," she does not reveal that she and her assistant George have found the artifact. Instead, under a two-week deadline to finish the dig, she flies back to the States and seeks a metallurgist from MIT to come back to Greece and help her assay the stone of the artifact. She meets John Bishop in his office at MIT, and hires him to do the job. John doesn't tell Claire he is a mathematician, not a physical scientist, for two reasons. One, he likes scuba diving, and hopes to be able to dive in Greece when this job is done. And two, he's really attracted to Claire. Back at the tomb, George has finished disinterring the artifact, and found a pipe leading down to the sea behind it. John's test results are puzzling—they reveal a cubical cavity inside the artifact, lined with heavy metals. From an amber cone that projects from one face of the stone cube, they glimpse an occasional flash of light. A slight humming noise comes from the object, and it has an eerie feel to the touch. Benford has woven several disparate elements together into this skillful tapestry. Archaeology and academic power-mongering fight with vigor (though with less blood), equal to the political and cultural battles of the Greeks who are striving to keep their antiquities in the country. Claire's feminism vies with John's southern views of femininity and family. And the MIT physicists and mathematicians struggle to define and contain this genie in the bottle. Like David Brin's The Practice Effect and Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio , this is a book that vaulted the author into the ranks of science fiction's "Killer Bs." It is the best kind of science fiction there is, demanding your full attention, changing only one element, then asking what happens if this is true?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kaus Wei

    Book 4 in my re-reading odyssey. The thing that struck me most about this book was not the plot, nor the characters, nor the speculative science that was presented, but rather the backstory that was presented during the first third. Benson describes an economically failing Greece, whose population blames their problems on manipulation by banks that are supported by the US. Sound familiar? For a moment, I forgot this book was written in the mid 80s, and could have sworn it was a 'Ripped from the He Book 4 in my re-reading odyssey. The thing that struck me most about this book was not the plot, nor the characters, nor the speculative science that was presented, but rather the backstory that was presented during the first third. Benson describes an economically failing Greece, whose population blames their problems on manipulation by banks that are supported by the US. Sound familiar? For a moment, I forgot this book was written in the mid 80s, and could have sworn it was a 'Ripped from the Headlines' deal. Reading the story in the light of modern events (namely the social collapse of Greece thanks to bank greed), makes it hard to sympathise with the American protaganists. And their paternalistic behaviour towards the Greeks goes even further in reducing my esteem for them, to the point where I had none. About a third of the way through, I stopped seeing the story as a good- vs bad-guy one, and more as a clash of national personalities. At this point, the tone of the book switches from archeological and low-level cold-war intrigue, to physics intrigue, and uninteresting romance. Things stay that way for the next third. This---unfortunately---is a problem, because the plot comes almost to a complete stop at various points in this third, as we must wade through several info dumps. I would have much preferred a brief glossary at the back. The last third goes back to cold-war intrigue, this time writ large, as now there is a shooting war to stymie the efforts of the would be 'good-guys', and the book turns into a low-grade cold-war 'thriller'. Things wrap up for the good-guys, and we get an epilogue that consists mostly of a wedding, and which could have been omitted, save for the last few pages, which set up a possible sequel (that I am not sure ever was produced).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steven Klotz

    Mostly academic politics (and some actual politics), slowly unraveling the mystery of an object with strange physical properties. Some action and romance is tossed in for good measure. Very dry and I'm not sure there's anyone I would actually recommend it to. Glowing endorsement, right? Well, it was a VERY relaxing read for me and I enjoyed the science. Considering how idea dense I normally take my fiction, this single idea - extrapolated from a handful of "maybes" grounded in current (as of mid Mostly academic politics (and some actual politics), slowly unraveling the mystery of an object with strange physical properties. Some action and romance is tossed in for good measure. Very dry and I'm not sure there's anyone I would actually recommend it to. Glowing endorsement, right? Well, it was a VERY relaxing read for me and I enjoyed the science. Considering how idea dense I normally take my fiction, this single idea - extrapolated from a handful of "maybes" grounded in current (as of mid '80s) theoretical physics - managed to grab my interest and carry me along for the length of a novel. Mostly good writing. The "good" characters got fleshed out quite nicely - flaws and catastrophic mistakes and all - while the "bad" characters were cardboard cutouts. Expanding my thoughts for a blog post.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    The artifact itself was interesting. It was the plot that was dull. Characters were a bit on the dry side, too. I did like all the science, though. But I found a glaring scientific error. There's a scene where an ancient map is found. It's a couple of feet high and a couple of feet across. It turns out to be made of ivory. When I read this, all I could think was that I would really love to see the elephant that provided such a humongous tusk. It must have been quite an animal. Aside from that, I The artifact itself was interesting. It was the plot that was dull. Characters were a bit on the dry side, too. I did like all the science, though. But I found a glaring scientific error. There's a scene where an ancient map is found. It's a couple of feet high and a couple of feet across. It turns out to be made of ivory. When I read this, all I could think was that I would really love to see the elephant that provided such a humongous tusk. It must have been quite an animal. Aside from that, I thought the concept was good, but a little more could have been done with it from a creative and story-telling angle. The author seemed more concerned with showing off his scientific knowledge than telling a story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

    I really wanted to like this book more, but the "literary" parts seemed really contrived. Too much time spent on cliche romance and wooden character back story. Overall it was a solid book. Worth reading Interesting detours into science and archaeology. Too many lectures... I'm pretty sure most of the characters were supposed to be late 20s (maybe early 30s... how old is a postdoc?), but their internal monologues sure sounded like old men. Also, I call bullshit on the "southern" accent. I've spent I really wanted to like this book more, but the "literary" parts seemed really contrived. Too much time spent on cliche romance and wooden character back story. Overall it was a solid book. Worth reading Interesting detours into science and archaeology. Too many lectures... I'm pretty sure most of the characters were supposed to be late 20s (maybe early 30s... how old is a postdoc?), but their internal monologues sure sounded like old men. Also, I call bullshit on the "southern" accent. I've spent much of my life in Virginia, both the city and out in the country. I've also lived spent long spans in the deep south and the gulf coast. The accent might have been realistic (assuming the author had someone in mind), but I didn't find it believable

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