It seems to me that in the novel Sphere by Michael Crichton, Beth (the woman that also had the power) didn't forget the whole thing at the end.

They found a mummified woman in a hibernation chamber that looks like Beth (page 250):

"She's pretty good-looking," Harry said, peering through the glass. "Boy, the reporters would go crazy with this, wouldn't they? Sexy woman from the future found nude and mummified. Film at eleven."

"She's tall, too," Norman said. "She must be over six feet."

"An Amazon woman," Harry said. "With great tits."

"All right," Beth said.

"What's wrong-offended on her behalf?" Harry said.

"I don't think there's any need for comments of that kind."

"Actually, Beth," Harry said, "she looks a little like you."

Also Beth apparently would make use of the power to make herself look very attractive, what brings me to what happenes in the end:

He glanced back at Beth and Harry. They both looked tired. Beth stared into space, preoccupied with her own thoughts. But her face was serene; despite the hardships of their time underwater, Norman thought she looked almost beautiful.

"You know, Beth," he said, "you look lovely."

Beth did not seem to hear, but then she turned toward him slowly. "Why, thank you, Norman," she said.

And she smiled.

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    I always felt like it was deliberately vague. – phantom42 Mar 25 '14 at 12:35
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    I never paid much attention to the Amazon mummy, but the ending always made me assume that she did not forget. But I'm pretty sure the point was to be vague. – Dave Johnson Mar 25 '14 at 13:57
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    I believe that forgetting the power didn't take it away since they are said to have had the power even before going into the sphere (they imagined the sphere opening and it did). So I believe the sphere may just help access this power. When they all believe to forget, they all do forget, but the power still lingers and small things that they wish to happen actually happen (more experienced seamen over looking them, Beth appearing to more attractive, etc.) – user56045 Nov 19 '15 at 18:47

No, she didn't forget.

The major clues are in Crichton's description of how Norman views Beth throughout the book.

At the start of the book he describes her as "masculine" and "sharp-featured". He acknowledges that she's "pretty" but he mostly concentrates on her muscles and physique

Beth Halpern, the team zoologist, was a study in contrasts. She was a tall, angular woman of thirty-six who could be called pretty despite her sharp features and the almost masculine quality of her body. In the years since Norman had last seen her, she seemed to have emphasized her masculine side even more. Beth was a serious weight-lifter and runner; the veins and muscles bulged at her neck and on her forearms, and her legs, beneath her shorts, were powerful. Her hair was cut short, hardly longer than a man’s.

Halfway through the book, the sphere starts messing with their perceptions and his description becomes much more favourable;

She looked okay. If anything, she looked better than ever. Stronger, clearer. She actually looked rather beautiful, he thought.

Later, the effect becomes even more pronounced;

Norman went up to the lab to see beth, but she was asleep, curled up on her couch. In sleep, she looked quite beautiful. It was odd after all the time down here she should seem so radiant. It was as if the harshness had gone out of her features. Her nose did not seem so sharp any more; the line of the mouth was softer, fuller. He looked at her arms, which had been sinewy, veins bulging. The muscles seemed smoother, more feminine somehow.

On the final page we see that she's retained her beauty. Clearly someone must still have "the power" and since she was the only one who was reluctant to give it up, we can reasonably conclude that she tricked the others into relinquishing their power while retaining it herself.

He glanced back at Beth and Harry. They both looked tired. Beth stared into space, preoccupied with her own thoughts. But her face was serene; despite the hardships of their time underwater, Norman thought she looked almost beautiful. “You know, Beth,” he said, “you look lovely.”

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    Don't they all use the power to forget about the sphere, though? That implies the effect extends beyond its duration. She may have just added an addendum - "I want to forget I saw the sphere - but I wouldn't mind taking a few years off the old mug on my way out the door." – Stick Mar 25 '14 at 22:54
  • @stick - In the book there's no indication that either Beth or Harry gave up the power. That said, Harry was the first to suggest it and Beth "seemed to think about it longer, biting her lip. But finally she nodded. “Okay.”" so obviously she had time to decide whether or not to go along with the plan – Valorum Mar 25 '14 at 23:07

Short answer? The theory that Beth didn't actually give up the power is pretty widely accepted amongst the fandom. I don't think Crichton ever confirmed it, but there are definitely enough hints that could fit that theory.


Neither Beth nor Norman gave up the power. There's more evidence that Norman kept it, than there is that Beth did. At the start of the final chapter, Norman awakes earlier than the others and, looking out the door window, laments the young and inexperienced crew members who are ignoring them when they should be doing their job, respecting what they had just gone through.

Immediately after 'giving up' the power, an experienced crew member is immediately attentive, respectfully asking Norman if there is anything they need. Since it's implied that neither Beth nor Norman actually gave up the power, it's likely Harry did not either, and their earlier discussion about whether or not they had "the power to forget they had the power" becomes more relevant.

More to the point I think the ending was left ambiguous for a reason; our interpretation of it says more about us than it does about the ending, much the way Beth and Harry's interpretation of the ship, crew and sphere said more about them than it did the ship, crew or sphere.

  • I don't disagree, but can you offer any more explanation how your examples actually prove the points that you're making? – Valorum Feb 7 '15 at 1:42

Perhaps forgetting you have the power doesn't take it away. They were not conscious of the power at first but were still conjuring their fears. Beth may have been the only one who didn't forget and had the conscious ability to use the power, but that doesn't necessarily mean Harry and Norman weren't using it subconsciously as they did when they conjured the jelly fish and the squid. Beth may have used her power to send the orb back to where the astronauts found it so that it would come back in time for her to be able to enter it and revive her power in the first place.


Don't forget what Norman points out to Beth and Harry as they figure out how to handle ridding themselves of the Power: Their subconscious would fill in the details. The navy crew paid more attention, as Norman desired. Harry was passionately upset about "what had happened", unlike he had been earlier in life, when he was cold and un-passionate. Beth was serene and lovely--just like she always had wished to be.


No she didnt forget. That last line. She smiled. AMAZING! My favorite michael crichton book by far!!!!

  • A smile isn't proof positive. At best it's ambiguous... – Valorum Sep 16 '16 at 13:17

protected by Rand al'Thor Sep 16 '16 at 13:07

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