That Marathon Book

Back in Jan 26, 1996 Seth Carus <> pointed out that there was book called "Marathon" by David Alexander Smith and published by Ace Books, copyright 1982 (ISBN 0-441-51943-1). He wrote at the time:

It is interesting to point out that the premise of the story is about a crew of spaceship travellers who are terrorized by the ship's AI who becomes hyper aware and begins to deteriorate...

Further information from the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, (edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, London: Orbit, 1993) revealed the following about David Alexander Smith and his Marathon Trilogy.

SMITH, D(AVID) ALEXANDER (1953 - ) US investment banker and writer who served as Treasurer of the Science Fiction Writers of America 1987-90 and has written several articles on wargame strategy. He began publishing sf with Marathon (1982), #1 in the Marathon sequence, which continues with Rendezvous (1988) and Homecoming (1990). The sequence is a First-Contact tale which depicts, with very considerable cunning, the slow process of learning and ultimate conceptual breakthrough attendant upon any genuine confrontation of Homo sapiens with the Other. In this case, the Cygnan aliens who are rendezvousing with humans in interstellar space, are intriguing perceived through flawed eyes. Although DAS succumbs to some clichéd presentation of sf conventions - for instance, the neurotic AI aboard the human starship - this slow, densely realized space-opera epic deserves considerable notice. [John Clute]

A sci-fi book called "Marathon" published in 1982, twelve years before the release of Bungie's Marathon? A story about mankind rendezvousing with an alien race in interstellar space? A neurotic AI aboard the human starship?

Were these just mere story coincidences or something more?

Well the Story page has finally got its hands on a copy of David Alexander Smith's book "Marathon". It was out of print but that couldn't stop us. Now for the first time the tru7h can be revealed.

What other story similarities exist between the Marathon book and the Marathon game? We'll be bringing you the details... soon.

First off here are two scans: one of the front (95K) cover and one of the back (75K).

The opening line of the book is:

Captain's Log, 7 April 2062

Now don't that beat all. ;-)

Jim Head <> asks how long is the book?

A quick flip to the back page reveals a total of 250 pages. Yes 250! (2+5+0 = 7) I kid you not! Do you think I have time to make this stuff up or what?

Gabe Rosenkoetter <> writes:

From the back cover:

"The Open Palm and her crew..."

Look at the icons that link back to the main page on

Yes an "open palm" symbolises peace. In the book "Marathon" the ship was appropriately named "Open Palm" since it was on a peace mission. Is the Duality "open hands" icon a symbol of peace or a completely different kettle of fish?

Gabe continues:

"... must live together for seven years."

Oh dear.

"They were hand-picked for their mission..."

... and weren't the Mjolnirs?

"And there is a twelfth personality to contend with: ..."

1 + 2 = 3

Count the words in the last line of text. Now, observe what word is the seeming completion of that clause, and what number it is.

"what will it choose to do..." 1 2 3 4 5 6


I could go on, but I think that's enough for now.

Madness... madness! ;-)

Here are the front (155K) and back back (137K) covers of David Alexander Smith's third and final installment of the Marathon Trilogy - Homecoming.

Thanks to Elbert Wall <> we now have a scan of the front cover of David Alexander Smith's second novel "Rendezvous". You can see it here.

Ibrahim Halim <> writes:

Yes. That Marathon book. I was browsing your site for the of six of the seven remaining when I came across something interesting. The third Marathon book, titled "Homecoming" features an A.I. by the name of "Ozymandias".

This name is the subject of a poem.

"And on the pedestal the words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
look upon my works, ye mighty, and dispair!'
Nothing beside remains.
'Round the
Decay of that colossal wreck
Boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
-P.B. Shelly, 1817

The imagery is vaguely familiar... as if from an old dream.

Go Back to Marathon's Story Home Page

Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated May 11, 2004