I think this is probably a late 1970s/early 1980s book, and it's a fairly chunky read.

An alien ship arrives; it's completely featureless, other than a hatch that regularly opens. There is no gravity inside the ship, and I think it's full of stars (although I may be confusing that with something else).

At some point, I think, the ship buries itself underground, and they set up a series of lights in a grid to track its location (the lights go out when the ship is under them). As time goes on the ship starts to draw more power in a wider radius, before finally completely shutting down the Earth's electrical grid.

1 Answer 1


I'm rewriting this answer, because based on a speed-read, this is definitely Fade-Out by Patrick Tilley. It was first published in 1975, which fits your time frame, and at over 400 pages the paperback was fairly substantial for paperbacks of the era.

An alien ship arrives in Earth orbit, temporarily wiping out all shortwave radio broadcasts and radars. After orbiting for a couple of days, visible to radar but completely black in optical wavelengths, it lands in Crow Ridge, Montana (we discover later another ship has landed in Kazakhstan as well) and buries itself in the ground. Locals find a 1.1km (0.69mi) radius zone where electrical devices are knocked out by current surges from an extremely strong alternating magnetic field.

By the time investigators arrive it has moved deeper underground. In response to drilling, it moves sideways through the rock, and deeper underground. They use a grid of runway lights powered by car batteries to track its position and its depth based on the fact that the zone of interference is spherical. After chasing it around underground a bit with more drilling and some explosives, it returns to the surface at its original landing spot.

When it surfaces it is glowing white-hot from the heat of melting rock, but it cools to an intense black. The above-ground shape is a hemispherical dome on a section of a larger sphere; attempts to dig it out further are prevented. The surface is completely smooth with (initially) no visible cracks or seams. After further examination it is discovered that the surface is not completely opaque and some "brain-like" structure is faintly visible inside.

The dome on top turns out to be a spherical hatch, that rotates open to allow a spider-like explorer to exit and re-enter. The investigators determine the trigger sequence to open the hatch, and attempt to investigate the interior. Instruments sent in determine that the interior is a vacuum at the temperature of space (2K) and there is apparently no gravity inside.

The first investigator sent inside, Chris Milsom, seems to go insane, causing the death of another team member when they try to pull him out. Another team member, Dan Spencer, volunteers to use the remaining space suit to go in and try to at least leave a record of what is inside:

Very carefully, he turned head over heels to investigate the source of the light. They had been right. Both spheres rotated to bring the hatches into line, giving access to Crusoe's interior.

He inched his way down one of the guide rails toward the light filtering through the five-foot-wide hatch. There was no point in plunging through headfirst until he saw the layout. Perhaps he might see Chris down there. Or was it up there? As Spencer clung to the thick, double rim of the hatch, he began to lose his sense of direction. The light was coming from stars. Millions and millions of stars...

The ship changes form and grows into a 60-foot-tall pyramid, the zone of electrical interference expands repeatedly, by a factor of 10 each time, an attempt to nuke it fails and the story ends with no electrical devices working anywhere on Earth, and no indication of what the ultimate effect of the alien devices will be.

(I was able to borrow the book from the Open Library.)

  • From my vague memories of reading Fade Out ( it was 30+ years ago :) ) I'd agree with DavidW Jun 27, 2019 at 0:17
  • Rewrote this answer based on reading the book.
    – DavidW
    Jun 27, 2019 at 19:24
  • That's definitely it. Thank you @DavidW - that has been driving me absolutely nuts.
    – Deadcow
    Jul 5, 2019 at 8:19

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