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I have been looking for a book that I read in the 80's but it's probably older. It was about a spaceship from Earth in a very long mission to discover life? I don't remember, but they had been far too long in space without any results, so the crew was on the verge of mutiny.

They land on a planet, home of two super-computers called...? Alpha? Beta? One seemed more advanced than the other, the planet was void of any other life, and supposedly it was forseen that the planet would be struck by a comet, and the computers see the ship as a way to save or abandon the planet before the impact.

At some point one member of the crew is captured by the computers, and it's vivisected in an attempt to get data about humans. Then they "reassemble" the crew member before returning it to the ship, hoping that the humans could "reactivate it" since the computers were unable to do so. Which of course enrages the ship's crew.

The ship was unable to take off for reason that I don't remember and they must fight the computers to save themselves.

Does anyone know what this is?

Thanks, as soon as I read the names, they did ring a bell on my memory. The case it's closed then.

  • For reference you need two line breaks for a paragraph break. I’ve edited the end sentence to read as a question rather than something a bit more “discussiony”. Lastly, the genre tags are to be used directly for questions about the genres themselves and id questions should have the [story-identification] tag. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 5 '18 at 17:32
  • Are you sure the computers were alpha and beta, as the description is quite close to Earthsearth (or possibly Earthsearch II) by James Follet - his novelisations of his Radio 4 sf serials. In those the two computers were called ANGEL ONE and ANGEL TWO. – Simon Bucher-Jones Jul 5 '18 at 20:45
  • Not sure about the names, maybe I'm mixing up with something else. I remembered a few more details, I'll edit the question. – Dirak Jul 6 '18 at 1:43
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Your description perfectly matches a novel I read in German, it is by Harris Moore and the German title is Die Wasserwelt (The Water World). The original title is Slater's Planet. It was originally published in 1971 with the German translation being released in 1974.

A space ship's crew grows restless and rebellious. Bitterness and frustrations make an additional, emotional payload on the "Arcturus", and increase the burdens of Captain Banyon. When a strange, bright object suddenly glows on the view screen, hopes kindle.

But the beckoning planet raises more questions than answers, and the crew and ship are drawn into greater dangers than they have ever faced before.

Goodreads, Slater's Planet

The following review, by the person who added the book to Goodreads, mentions that the antagonist of the story is a giant computer.

The technology described is dated, so I don't think I'm spoiling anything by revealing that the antagonist is a computer the size of a planet. What has stayed with me all these years was the determination of the crew to persevere despite impossible odds, and ethical choices that fall into the grey zone, as opposed to the black and white choices so often evident in lesser works.

Goodreads, Slater's Planet, Jay's Review

  • I've edited to add in some basic details about the story from the little information on the book I could find. Could you edit to explain how this matches the story? – TheLethalCarrot Oct 17 '18 at 8:56
  • I don't have the book currently at hand and it is at least 20 years since I last read it, but at least the ship's name "Arcturus" seems familiar. And the planet's surface is covered completely with water except for a single small island. The two computers are in a huge underground complex, but I don't remember if it was even told exactly how big they are. – Volker Landgraf Oct 17 '18 at 9:09

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