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The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hybernating colonists en route to a new world at Tau Ceti, is stranded beyond the solar system when the ship's three Organic Mental Cores, disembodied human brains that control the vessel's functions, go insane. An emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: to create an artificial consciousness in the Earthli The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hybernating colonists en route to a new world at Tau Ceti, is stranded beyond the solar system when the ship's three Organic Mental Cores, disembodied human brains that control the vessel's functions, go insane. An emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: to create an artificial consciousness in the Earthling's primary computer, which could guide them to their destination . . . or could destroy the human race. Frank Herbert's classic novel that begins the epic Pandora Sequence (written with Bill Ransom), which also includes The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect, and The Ascension Factor.


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The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hybernating colonists en route to a new world at Tau Ceti, is stranded beyond the solar system when the ship's three Organic Mental Cores, disembodied human brains that control the vessel's functions, go insane. An emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: to create an artificial consciousness in the Earthli The starship Earthling, filled with thousands of hybernating colonists en route to a new world at Tau Ceti, is stranded beyond the solar system when the ship's three Organic Mental Cores, disembodied human brains that control the vessel's functions, go insane. An emergency skeleton crew sees only one chance for survival: to create an artificial consciousness in the Earthling's primary computer, which could guide them to their destination . . . or could destroy the human race. Frank Herbert's classic novel that begins the epic Pandora Sequence (written with Bill Ransom), which also includes The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect, and The Ascension Factor.

30 review for Destination: Void

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Relentless. From the opening lines of desperate but intentional destruction and throughout the tight narrative, Frank Herbert has crafted in his 1966 novel Destination: Void a seamless thread of tension and psychological intrigue. I cannot understand why this has never been made into a film, the design is readily adaptable to a script and the friction between the archetypal cast is evocative of Sartre’s No Exit. Existentialism is a central, though understated element of the novel. One character Relentless. From the opening lines of desperate but intentional destruction and throughout the tight narrative, Frank Herbert has crafted in his 1966 novel Destination: Void a seamless thread of tension and psychological intrigue. I cannot understand why this has never been made into a film, the design is readily adaptable to a script and the friction between the archetypal cast is evocative of Sartre’s No Exit. Existentialism is a central, though understated element of the novel. One character asks, “We have manipulated mathematical infinity; why can’t we manipulate God?” The forced perspectuve narrative describes a microcosm of humanity that is at once itself manipulated and suspended without free will and at the same time questioning the very nature of consciousness and how a human is defined. This is also suggestive of Aldous Huxley with his dystopian ideas about “bottle babies” and Herbert takes it a step further by focusing more on the inter-personal conflicts within and among the adults rather than examining macroeconomic and socio-political ramifications of a dehumanizing event. Destination: Void may also have inspired the producers of The Matrix films. Herbert has created a highly focused character study of humanity at the edge of itself, a staged drama in a single act with the human ego in the spotlight.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly H. (Maybedog)

    It's strange that the sequel to this novel is my favorite book of all time and yet I only gave this one two stars. Part of the problem is that most of this book is really just a philosophical dialog about the nature of consciousness and an attempt to mathematically define it. There's a some unnecessary intrigue where every character knows some secret about the other characters that they themselves don't know. The point of view is changed many times on a page (which Herbert admits he did for clar It's strange that the sequel to this novel is my favorite book of all time and yet I only gave this one two stars. Part of the problem is that most of this book is really just a philosophical dialog about the nature of consciousness and an attempt to mathematically define it. There's a some unnecessary intrigue where every character knows some secret about the other characters that they themselves don't know. The point of view is changed many times on a page (which Herbert admits he did for clarity of all things) which makes things even more confusing. But mostly the book just made me feel stupid. Metaphysics in college was simplistic compared to parts of this book. There were many places I had to re-read several times to get what he was trying to say. At points I just didn't bother. The redeeming factor is the final chapter where the whole point is made and which sets up the next book in the series, The Jesus Incident which is an examination of the nature and definition of God among other things. But where that book provides a full story to surround the discussion and lots of showing with action and character development, Destination: Void just fumbles. Which is too bad as the idea of what is consciousness is such a fascinating topic. This book is only for die-hard Herbert fans and those who like convoluted discussions about the nature of consciousness.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    Frank Herbert's "Destination: Void" is thought-provoking science fiction at its best. The book reads more like a play written in prose form, as it takes place solely on board the bridge of a spaceship and it is almost 95% dialogue. But, oh wow, what dialogue! The premise: a small crew of six is manning a spaceship carrying a cargo of thousands of humans in suspended animation in the hopes of reaching an Earth-like planet in the Tau Ceti galaxy to colonize. The book opens en media res, after the Frank Herbert's "Destination: Void" is thought-provoking science fiction at its best. The book reads more like a play written in prose form, as it takes place solely on board the bridge of a spaceship and it is almost 95% dialogue. But, oh wow, what dialogue! The premise: a small crew of six is manning a spaceship carrying a cargo of thousands of humans in suspended animation in the hopes of reaching an Earth-like planet in the Tau Ceti galaxy to colonize. The book opens en media res, after the ship's computers (a giant neural network controlled by three human brains) malfunction, a virtual impossibility. Three of the six crew members are already dead. The remaining three awaken Dr. Prudence Weygand, a surgeon-ecologist. Each of the four have been assigned a new mission: create a new ship's computer that would have a human-like consciousness. The problem: each of the four are hiding secret agendas of their own, which seem to be at odds with the new mission of creating the artificial intelligence as well as the original mission of reaching Tau Ceti. For a book written almost entirely in dialogue, this is a fast-paced, suspenseful read. Herbert uses the book's plot as a forum for some very ethical discussions on creating artificial intelligence and on the nature of human consciousness itself. Very trippy, philosophical stuff.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marius

    A bunch of tech cwap end to end. While you can glimpse Herbert's talent for high quality dialog, it's all about exchanging tech theories between four clones, 3 dudes and 1 dudette, oh, and handling cables. A bunch of tech cwap end to end. While you can glimpse Herbert's talent for high quality dialog, it's all about exchanging tech theories between four clones, 3 dudes and 1 dudette, oh, and handling cables.

  5. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    This is one of those "Whafuck?" books that can best be approached by way of an awkward pop-culture analogy. Ready? Imagine "Reservoir Dogs" but instead of bank robbers they're clones and instead of hiding out from the police, the guys are trying to build God inside a spaceship careening towards disaster. That is, a one-room setting populated by actions in which nothing is ever what it seems and the dialogue has one both at a loss and grinning and shaking one's head in bemusement. That's pretty mu This is one of those "Whafuck?" books that can best be approached by way of an awkward pop-culture analogy. Ready? Imagine "Reservoir Dogs" but instead of bank robbers they're clones and instead of hiding out from the police, the guys are trying to build God inside a spaceship careening towards disaster. That is, a one-room setting populated by actions in which nothing is ever what it seems and the dialogue has one both at a loss and grinning and shaking one's head in bemusement. That's pretty much it. A bunch of clones on the seventh attempt at a mission to colonize another world (the six previous ones ended in the ship's destruction) find out they're being tested to survive and need to get further than their previous versions did or thousands of colonists in hibernation die. problem is, the giant mutated brains on their spaceship all went insane and died, so they have to create a consciousness (I think) that will be able to take over the ship's functions and yay, everyone lives. Most of the novel is thick, clotty technical dialogue that you drown in very quickly, but you don't care, because they're building God, the female pilot is experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs and trying to suppress her horniness, the religious character wants to kill everybody and the main guy ignores everyone and dares the cops to show up. Or maybe he's a cop. Mr Pink?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bart

    (...) So if I have to believe others – and I do – there is a certain technical merit in these kind of passages. The fact that Herbert himself even updated his work to the standards of the new day, indicates he was serious to a certain extent. So it’s not just all random non-nonsensical gobbledygook, not at all. The paradox is that it reads as gobbledygook nonetheless, and while the book may have (had) some technical merit, ultimately it fails spectacularly, as no one has ever tried to use this boo (...) So if I have to believe others – and I do – there is a certain technical merit in these kind of passages. The fact that Herbert himself even updated his work to the standards of the new day, indicates he was serious to a certain extent. So it’s not just all random non-nonsensical gobbledygook, not at all. The paradox is that it reads as gobbledygook nonetheless, and while the book may have (had) some technical merit, ultimately it fails spectacularly, as no one has ever tried to use this book as a manual to try and design conscious AI, because in the end, Herbert too relies on handwavium – technical posturing notwithstanding. (...) That Herbert didn’t take a stab at true brain science can’t be held against him: while the first human EEG was already recorded in 1924, the much more precise MEG signals were first measured in 1968, and rudimentary CAT, PET and MRI scanning techniques only originated in the early 70ies. All this does not mean the book is a total failure. (...) Full analysis on Weighing A Pig

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    There is a very cool story here... somewhere. It's hiding in all the overly complicated dialogue about computers and consciousness. To quote a friend I somehow convinced to read this book with me- "this book is all science and no fiction!" There is a very cool story here... somewhere. It's hiding in all the overly complicated dialogue about computers and consciousness. To quote a friend I somehow convinced to read this book with me- "this book is all science and no fiction!"

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    "Is a man just a machine's way of making another machine?" Destination: Void is the first of four books set in the eponymous universe of Herbert's making, also sometimes known as the Pandora series. The action in this book centers around an "umbilicus" crew of four and their ship, Earthling, that is carrying a massive cargo of hibernating colonists meant to colonize a planet in the distant Tau Ceti system. Before the ship even leaves our solar system, however, the ship's three Organic Mental Core "Is a man just a machine's way of making another machine?" Destination: Void is the first of four books set in the eponymous universe of Herbert's making, also sometimes known as the Pandora series. The action in this book centers around an "umbilicus" crew of four and their ship, Earthling, that is carrying a massive cargo of hibernating colonists meant to colonize a planet in the distant Tau Ceti system. Before the ship even leaves our solar system, however, the ship's three Organic Mental Cores--mutant human-derived brains bred to interface with the ship and promote its homeostasis--go completely mad and die/are killed. This leaves the crew scrambling to develop an artificial consciousness to control the ship before they are destroyed, either by external forces or by one of their own. This book is a difficult but rewarding read that actually doesn't center around the plot. Yes, this book does have a sensible plot and does set up somewhat the events of the next book, but these are secondary to the philosophical and technical discussions contained within. In their venture to create an artificial consciousness, the characters discuss (in great length) what actually defines consciousness and also technical details in creating it using electronic circuitry and mathematical constructs. The discussions on consciousness gave me a rough idea of what the crew was after and did produce a few "ah ha" moments. The technical "consciousness building" concepts seemed a little more dubious, but that might be because I didn't scrutinize that aspect very closely on my first read through. That being said, it seems to me that this book will shine more on subsequent readings, which I plan on doing now that I know what to expect and have a "big picture" idea of what is going on. With greater comprehension I am sure my rating will increase by a star (or possibly two).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ben Hartley

    Herbert should have stuck to space opera. This book certainly hasn't aged well. It's filled with technical terms that just don't seem to fit the context. Maybe my perspective is too modern, but as a computer scientist I found it painful to read these 'technical descriptions'. I've read technical descriptions of 1940s computers and I find them fascinating but this book is not. It's like Herbert didn't understand the terms or he was trying to sound 'futuristic' by making up new terms. The Dune boo Herbert should have stuck to space opera. This book certainly hasn't aged well. It's filled with technical terms that just don't seem to fit the context. Maybe my perspective is too modern, but as a computer scientist I found it painful to read these 'technical descriptions'. I've read technical descriptions of 1940s computers and I find them fascinating but this book is not. It's like Herbert didn't understand the terms or he was trying to sound 'futuristic' by making up new terms. The Dune books were great, but I winced at least once reading them when I read a passage describing the cryogenic treatment of a weapon that was cooled to -100 degrees Kelvin. Anyone with a high school understanding of physics should know that 0 Kelvin is the coldest temperature possible.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This is not a novel. It is a meditation on computers, AI, and Consciousness, as seen in 1978. Without all the speculation, it would have made a decent novella. But speculation is what it was all about with much discussion of early computers and whether or not they can be aware. It comes from the time, when computers were still considered dangerous (see HAL 9000 and many other rogue computer stories.), which is not a negative in itself. I don't fault it for being written before Apple and Microsof This is not a novel. It is a meditation on computers, AI, and Consciousness, as seen in 1978. Without all the speculation, it would have made a decent novella. But speculation is what it was all about with much discussion of early computers and whether or not they can be aware. It comes from the time, when computers were still considered dangerous (see HAL 9000 and many other rogue computer stories.), which is not a negative in itself. I don't fault it for being written before Apple and Microsoft. :-) It's the only novel I've tried to read in decades by skimming whole pages. If I wasn't interested in the sequels, ,I would have stopped after 50 pages, but I kept hoping for more. Considering that I like Herbert's other books, this was a real disappointment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alo

    This book could've become a timeless novel exploring the ideas of consciousness and artificial intelligence but instead it was filled with long sequences of technobabble and shallow psychology all which felt very dated. When it was originally published in 1966, this probably worked well, however it didn't stand the test of time like some other science fiction novels have. The overall pace of the book was slow, few times tension was built up only to fizzle out. The last few chapters where the pace This book could've become a timeless novel exploring the ideas of consciousness and artificial intelligence but instead it was filled with long sequences of technobabble and shallow psychology all which felt very dated. When it was originally published in 1966, this probably worked well, however it didn't stand the test of time like some other science fiction novels have. The overall pace of the book was slow, few times tension was built up only to fizzle out. The last few chapters where the pace and tension really picked up and things got interesting were no different, resulting in a lackluster ending.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richp

    What is best about this book is the situation Herbert set up. The execution was poor, filled with ridiculous jargon and some truly implausible physics developments. Herbert did not understand AI or physics. He also did not really address many of the issues involved in his premise. The basic ideas behind the story could be used to write a great book. This is not it, and barely worth a second star. Had this been my only introduction to Herbert, I would never have read another by him. I will follow What is best about this book is the situation Herbert set up. The execution was poor, filled with ridiculous jargon and some truly implausible physics developments. Herbert did not understand AI or physics. He also did not really address many of the issues involved in his premise. The basic ideas behind the story could be used to write a great book. This is not it, and barely worth a second star. Had this been my only introduction to Herbert, I would never have read another by him. I will follow up with the next book in this series, because I have it and he has written a lot of good stuff.

  13. 5 out of 5

    aimee

    One of Herbert's more obscure works, my verdict could only be 'fantastic'. Absolutely fantastic - so much so, in fact, that I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in AI/AGI. Of course, having been written in the late 60s/early 70s, the tech being talked of is somewhat dated, and some of the concepts went over my head somewhat (I am not a computer engineer) - however, the philosophy exploring our concepts of consciousness were extremely interesting and insightful. Read it, and One of Herbert's more obscure works, my verdict could only be 'fantastic'. Absolutely fantastic - so much so, in fact, that I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in AI/AGI. Of course, having been written in the late 60s/early 70s, the tech being talked of is somewhat dated, and some of the concepts went over my head somewhat (I am not a computer engineer) - however, the philosophy exploring our concepts of consciousness were extremely interesting and insightful. Read it, and pass it on to your friends. I have :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Rivera

    I can't help but feel this book is the beginning of the whole history of Dune and the Machine Wars. I know it's not but this book is outstanding. It asks just a simple question. Rather philosophical for sci-fi. Herbert always had a habit of researching every idea he had in order to make it as true as possible. I can't help but feel this book is the beginning of the whole history of Dune and the Machine Wars. I know it's not but this book is outstanding. It asks just a simple question. Rather philosophical for sci-fi. Herbert always had a habit of researching every idea he had in order to make it as true as possible.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jlawrence

    This books manages, despite significant flaws, to engagingly mix a golden age of sci-fi "engineers solving a technical problem" kind of plot with wild philosophizing and thriller elements. It rests on a somewhat wonky premise (I'm not spoiling anything btw - the following is all revealed early on). Apparently, in the future, the most effective and cost-efficient way to research artificial consciousness is to build a huge colonization ship and launch it towards Tau Ceti with its self-monitoring me This books manages, despite significant flaws, to engagingly mix a golden age of sci-fi "engineers solving a technical problem" kind of plot with wild philosophizing and thriller elements. It rests on a somewhat wonky premise (I'm not spoiling anything btw - the following is all revealed early on). Apparently, in the future, the most effective and cost-efficient way to research artificial consciousness is to build a huge colonization ship and launch it towards Tau Ceti with its self-monitoring mechanisms (disembodied human brains hooked up to the ship's computers) programmed to fail, so that the crew has to create a artificial consciousness to guide and monitor the ship, or perish if they fail to do so. The experiment, complete with re-building and re-launching the ship, is repeated until breakthrough trumps death. Rationales are given for this set-up: the crew is comprised of clones whose lives are valued less than 'normal' humans; an earlier Earth-bound experiment in artificial consciousness created a "rogue consciousness" that destroyed itself and its makers; it's believed that crisis situations inspire conceptual breakthroughs -- and the crew themselves try to puzzle out why they've been set-up this way. But it still felt a bit off. Nevertheless, this set-up allows "let's solve an immense engineering problem" to drive the plot, while the nature of the problem brings up many complex philosophical and moral issues that Herbert loves diving into. Something else that separates it from typical "engineer hero" sci-fi is the signficant amount of (sometimes heavy-handed) psychology Herbert injects into the crew's often manipulative interactions. Through the characters' stressed psyches Herbet explores the limits of human awareness and states of enlightenment -- strong themes in the Dune series that are interesting to see him pursuing here. Surprisingly, the archaic computer technology utilized doesn't ruin things, as the differences with modern components seem mostly a matter of scale, and the interrelations between the various abstract systems seem more important than the components they use. However, there are many times the technical explanations get so dense and hard-to-parse that you wonder whether Herbert is being incredibly smart or simply indulging in technobabble. The end is also pretty cheesy, but sets up this book's sequels well. Overall, the book is rough - Herbert doesn't manage to merge its various elements as well as he does with the early Dune books. On just its quality of writing and structure, the book probably deserves only three stars, but the subject matter was fascinating enough that I give it an extra star for personal enjoyment.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Before Frank Herbert's Dune and the money machine it became, he wrote some very interesting science fiction. Destination Void isn't his best writing but it sets up another book, The Jesus Incident which is much better. Although I read and enjoyed The Jesus Incident long ago, I'm looking forward to reading it again now that I understand the environment better. For those of you who liked the sudden POV switches of Dune, often paragraph by paragraph, you'll find yourself on familiar turf with Desti Before Frank Herbert's Dune and the money machine it became, he wrote some very interesting science fiction. Destination Void isn't his best writing but it sets up another book, The Jesus Incident which is much better. Although I read and enjoyed The Jesus Incident long ago, I'm looking forward to reading it again now that I understand the environment better. For those of you who liked the sudden POV switches of Dune, often paragraph by paragraph, you'll find yourself on familiar turf with Destination Void. Herbert flips between the four primary characters readily.

  17. 5 out of 5

    SpringLea Henry

    This book loses one star only for the characters who became walking dialogue for much of the book, but oh such dialogue!!! I started this book because my brain had been sluggish from fatigue, illness, and grief. I wanted something to sort of rehab my head and get me back to full editing strength. This book really jump-started the old noggin! I wish they still wrote more sci-fi like this, only maybe with better characters. I will totally be checking out the rest of the series. But for now, back t This book loses one star only for the characters who became walking dialogue for much of the book, but oh such dialogue!!! I started this book because my brain had been sluggish from fatigue, illness, and grief. I wanted something to sort of rehab my head and get me back to full editing strength. This book really jump-started the old noggin! I wish they still wrote more sci-fi like this, only maybe with better characters. I will totally be checking out the rest of the series. But for now, back to pushing commas, because this book healed my brain! :)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I don`t know why I never read this or the subsequent novels when I was devouring the Dune books. But I`m glad I didn`t. I don`t think I would have really grasped the concepts here if I had read it then. As it stands, having Awakened I recognized the states of mind leading up to Recognition AND the Awakened states described. This is a brilliant work!! I don`t know why I never read this or the subsequent novels when I was devouring the Dune books. But I`m glad I didn`t. I don`t think I would have really grasped the concepts here if I had read it then. As it stands, having Awakened I recognized the states of mind leading up to Recognition AND the Awakened states described. This is a brilliant work!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bob(by)

    If you like to read about/listen to computer nerds talk about artificial intelligence and system hardware then this book is for you. If you like to read about/listen to computer nerds talk about artificial intelligence and system hardware then this book is for you.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cameron Olson

    This book is incredible.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patkós Csaba

    Surprised by it. Great book. I didn't know this was part of the Pandora sequence when I started it. Great to discover after 15 years that my favorite trilogy has a fourth book. Surprised by it. Great book. I didn't know this was part of the Pandora sequence when I started it. Great to discover after 15 years that my favorite trilogy has a fourth book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaiju Reviews

    I love the word gobbledygook. As defined, it means language characterized by circumlocution or jargon. A good 90% of Destination: Void by Frank Herbert is gobbledygook. Another 8% is characters talking to themselves or thinking (out loud to us) in the same way that was super effective in Dune, but here seems overly melodramatic. It doesn't help that the characters always kick it up a notch. If mild irritation is the appropriate response, they respond with exasperated disbelief. The final 2% may, I love the word gobbledygook. As defined, it means language characterized by circumlocution or jargon. A good 90% of Destination: Void by Frank Herbert is gobbledygook. Another 8% is characters talking to themselves or thinking (out loud to us) in the same way that was super effective in Dune, but here seems overly melodramatic. It doesn't help that the characters always kick it up a notch. If mild irritation is the appropriate response, they respond with exasperated disbelief. The final 2% may, if uncovered, have been a decent story, it's hard to tell. I suspect that by today's standards (this novel is around 50 years old), even if de-gooked, it would feel somewhat dated. (Aside: had I read this on a dot matrix print out, I think it may have been awesome, so try that). Years after this was originally written, Herbert took the thread and ran with it, and from what I understand, one needn't read Gobbledygook: A Novel, to read the others, and I recommend that route. I do plan on continuing on with the 'series'. In truth, the end of the book was really the first moment where I had that feeling of wanting to know what happened next. Caveat: Herbert was a master. Dune is one of the great novels of all time, and I really enjoyed the expansiveness of some of its sequels, though none reach the initial novel's greatness. As a result, I must admit that it is entirely possible that all the techno babble and jargon stuffed into this small novel was actually carefully thought out and if read carefully in turn, might even makes sense, and if so that's pretty cool, but for me it doesn't change the fact that it isn't really needed and becomes tiring to read almost immediately. Dune does all this stuff right. Reading Destination: Void illuminates Herbert's strategies and styles in a behind-the-scenes type fashion. For that, it's a must read for Herbert enthusiasts, just don't expect to like the novel for itself. But of course, we grade on a curve. If I picked this up without a clue as to who Herbert was, or even better, read it back when it was published in Galaxy Magazine 1965, I'd have been impressed and entertained in a way that I couldn't be now.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bria

    Ah, there's that sweet Frank Herbert magic I crave: people born in axolotl tanks, everyone conditioned to manipulate everyone else, every statement somehow ominous and profound, even a hint of religion, drugs, expansion of consciousness. The chapter after chapter of electro-mechanical jargon was entertaining at first but then became a bit of a drag; it's not clear to me how much he expected us to actually follow how MEANINGFUL every discovery was; maybe people of the time were familiar with this Ah, there's that sweet Frank Herbert magic I crave: people born in axolotl tanks, everyone conditioned to manipulate everyone else, every statement somehow ominous and profound, even a hint of religion, drugs, expansion of consciousness. The chapter after chapter of electro-mechanical jargon was entertaining at first but then became a bit of a drag; it's not clear to me how much he expected us to actually follow how MEANINGFUL every discovery was; maybe people of the time were familiar with this type of technology (although I don't know how extensively its use was fabricated and nonsensical). Conceptually I'm pretty pleased that he was addressing issues of consciousness and AI safety with a better understanding of the brain and such things than I had realized was available at the time, but actually reading it was bogged down by the inscrutable technical details.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ramzi Ghadban

    Destination: Void is a very tense, elegant thriller. As usual, Herbert begins each chapter with a quote; in this case he added excerpts from Frankenstein that parallel his narrative very well. My only complain would be the heavy reliance on hard science fiction. There are considerably long portions built around conversations about the physics of building an artificial intelligence that, depending on who's reading, either grab you or lose you. I did enjoy that parts where the characters would phil Destination: Void is a very tense, elegant thriller. As usual, Herbert begins each chapter with a quote; in this case he added excerpts from Frankenstein that parallel his narrative very well. My only complain would be the heavy reliance on hard science fiction. There are considerably long portions built around conversations about the physics of building an artificial intelligence that, depending on who's reading, either grab you or lose you. I did enjoy that parts where the characters would philosophize about the concept of consciousness—and yes, get ready to read that word a hundred times.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Swan

    This is a book aligned with my essence. I enjoyed reading fiction that reflects Herbert's dated views on computers. Many "techy-sounding" terms are surely made up, but this is fiction. Hearing the perspective of four characters at once, all their internal thoughts written together with no effort wasted on doing too much to transition between them, was a nice change and done well. The discussions the characters have on the nature of consciousness is interesting and I will definitely read the Pand This is a book aligned with my essence. I enjoyed reading fiction that reflects Herbert's dated views on computers. Many "techy-sounding" terms are surely made up, but this is fiction. Hearing the perspective of four characters at once, all their internal thoughts written together with no effort wasted on doing too much to transition between them, was a nice change and done well. The discussions the characters have on the nature of consciousness is interesting and I will definitely read the Pandora Sequence soon.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mike Smith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Destination: Void is about a crew of clones sent on a mission to colonize another planet. What most of the crew don't realize is that their true mission is to create a conscious computer intelligence. The mission has been planned to experience certain failures that will force the crew to try to create an artificially intelligent and conscious computer in order to survive. Not only that, but this is the seventh attempt, using copies of the same clones that have been used in the previous missions. Destination: Void is about a crew of clones sent on a mission to colonize another planet. What most of the crew don't realize is that their true mission is to create a conscious computer intelligence. The mission has been planned to experience certain failures that will force the crew to try to create an artificially intelligent and conscious computer in order to survive. Not only that, but this is the seventh attempt, using copies of the same clones that have been used in the previous missions. The earlier missions all failed for various reasons and were destroyed by one of the cloned crewmembers who knew what the secret mission was. While the premise is good, I found this book so full of techno-psycho-babble that it made almost no sense. It's English, but you have to pretty much take it on faith that what the characters say to each other actually means something. They all seem to be experts in computer engineering, human psychology, and medicine. So they can understand each other, but if you don't know much about those fields, it will mostly sound like gibberish. Part of the problem may be the book's age. The original premise dates from the mid-60s. This revised edition is from the late 70s. Computers, and the associated terminology, have changed so much since then that the computer-related concepts in the novel seem strange. For example, it appears that the characters enter programs by hand, by manipulating input circuits. While I'm pretty sure stored-program computers existed in the period, the ship computer in the book seems to operate on older principles. Another problem is that not much happens in a plot sense. A lot of the book is each of the four main characters thinking to themselves. They all have intellectual revelations that bring them to higher states of consciousness and understanding, but the descriptions of these events aren't nearly as illuminating as the experiences themselves appear to be. This book is followed by at least one sequel, "The Jesus Incident". The Jesus Incident is a better (i.e., more conventional) novel, and can be read and understood without having read Destination: Void. I recommend Destination: Void only to those who really like Frank Herbert and/or 60s/70s SF.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This novel is difficult to like and impossible to love. The plot is straightforward and actually has a lot of potential. A ship with an active crew of four, along with three thousand colonists in hibernation is faced with the challenge of building an artificial intelligence to ensure the success of their mission. The complications to this plot are what add the really interesting elements: The crew and colonists are all clones, the ship's system failures and poor design may have been intentional, This novel is difficult to like and impossible to love. The plot is straightforward and actually has a lot of potential. A ship with an active crew of four, along with three thousand colonists in hibernation is faced with the challenge of building an artificial intelligence to ensure the success of their mission. The complications to this plot are what add the really interesting elements: The crew and colonists are all clones, the ship's system failures and poor design may have been intentional, and some of the crew members know more about what's going on than others. All great starting elements for a fine science fiction story. The problem is the execution. Herbert chooses to avoid advancing the plot for long stretches in lieu of extended dialogues featuring the crew arguing with each other over theoretical concepts in artificial intelligence. If I had read this novel as a child when I read Dune and many other Sci Fi classics, I might have thought it was too intellectual for me. Reading as an adult, I have enough confidence in my experience and intelligence to recognize that much of Herbert's computer science technobabble is complete nonsense. The characters spend long periods of time espousing their theories on the nature of consciousness in the most vague and general way, and then rush over to implement those theories on the "Ox" (their electronic test bed) in mere minutes. We are given to believe that it's all so obvious once the theory is understood, but it comes off completely ridiculous to readers who know that implementation is the greater challenge. I was also frustrated by the constantly floating point of view, which in many cases shifts from one paragraph to the next. Herbert includes so many internal reflections and monologues from the four main characters, that it can sometimes be confusing who is thinking what. I wanted to like this novel, and I did enjoy the big ideas, as well as the reminder that developing an AI is a very risky undertaking. However, the reading experience was something of an ordeal. In some ways I identified with the crew members, feeling myself stuck in a pressure cooker trying to get to the end of story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Derek Verlee

    Herbert's imagination is staggering as always. The idea is a very good one, an almost flow of consciousness discussion of the undefinable nature consciousness, but set within a plot happening aboard a spaceship, an arc-ship, filled with thousands of suspended, sleeping, travelers. Space is an enormous void. They are traveling at near relativistic speeds, threatened seemingly by It is the sinking ship story, more along the lines of the distressed submarine story, but space is so much more quiet, Herbert's imagination is staggering as always. The idea is a very good one, an almost flow of consciousness discussion of the undefinable nature consciousness, but set within a plot happening aboard a spaceship, an arc-ship, filled with thousands of suspended, sleeping, travelers. Space is an enormous void. They are traveling at near relativistic speeds, threatened seemingly by It is the sinking ship story, more along the lines of the distressed submarine story, but space is so much more quiet, the dangerous so much more strange, its violence striking without warning or explanation. here there be dragons remembers one crew member. Sink or swim, repeats another. The four crew, awake, or so they believe, responsible for the thousands of others, encounter strange problems until they are forced to realize things are not what they seem, the mission, they had been bred and trained their whole lives for, isn't the destination at all. The mission is to conquer the void, and not merely the void of space. are we really awake? Unfortunately, a good percentage of the words in this short novel are techno babble and not all of it has aged particularly well. It think that this is intermixed with honest attempts at guessing at the math an science that would be appropriate. It gets quite thick. However despite these dense treatises, he manages to with a subtle guide of tone establish a sort of exquisite moodiness, oppressive edginess, an expanding negative energy, the mood itself is visceral. The senses are invoked, all of them, somehow, even while Herbert is in the middle of a several page philosophical attack, in the voices of his characters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Another great Herbert book, I come away satisfied. IN this book, Herbert shows off his knowledge of 60s-era computer programming/systems engineering and physiology of the human brain, and religion. As a computer programmer, i particularly enjoyed this novel because its largely around technical problems. Specifically it deals with teh technical problems of building a computer system that mimics human functions. At some points it seems to degrade into a "technobabble" type blather, but it doesnt s Another great Herbert book, I come away satisfied. IN this book, Herbert shows off his knowledge of 60s-era computer programming/systems engineering and physiology of the human brain, and religion. As a computer programmer, i particularly enjoyed this novel because its largely around technical problems. Specifically it deals with teh technical problems of building a computer system that mimics human functions. At some points it seems to degrade into a "technobabble" type blather, but it doesnt stay there for long. The solutions to the ongoing technical problems make sense and are bounded at least in some way of real-world concepts.This book is not very long, and a large chunk is dedicated to the solving of these technical problems, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea. I however enjoyed a book about engineering challenges of fictional technology. I found the universe to be very interesting and well-fleshed out - it felt lived in. I can see why this became the basis of an additional three novels. Its definitely a herbert book. Characters are thinking about thinking about what the other character is thinking about another character. Everyone is super smart and are the best at what they do. The sense of wonder, that theres a big mysterious universe out there, is also present here. My only real negative here is that I feel that the character of Prudence is wasted - she doesnt really contribute much to the overall plot. Also the book is a bit short for how big of a scale it is, but theres more in the series for me to (hopefully) enjoy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Really loved this book. I think this book would get more attention if it weren't overshadowed by "Dune." "Dune" is certainly an amazing accomplishment, but "Destination Void" deserves more love. The atmosphere, characters and writing in the book are all very solid. Best of all, the theme is really well explored and especially works because of its inter-textual connections with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. One of my favorite things in literature is when an author uses his/her work to link arms wit Really loved this book. I think this book would get more attention if it weren't overshadowed by "Dune." "Dune" is certainly an amazing accomplishment, but "Destination Void" deserves more love. The atmosphere, characters and writing in the book are all very solid. Best of all, the theme is really well explored and especially works because of its inter-textual connections with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. One of my favorite things in literature is when an author uses his/her work to link arms with another author on a topic and manage to enhance their own work through the connection while equally bringing something new and fulfilling to the conversation. In this case, the themes of the responsibility of a creator to its creation, how creating a consciousness is the realm of the divine, and the general discussions of what consciousness is and whether creating a true A.I. is ethical/moral, are all themes that resonate with other great works of S/F and are all relevant to our world today.

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