Short works

Books : reviews

Jack McDevitt.
The Hercules Text.
Sphere. 1986

Jack McDevitt.
Ancient Shores.
Voyager/HarperCollins. 1996

Jack McDevitt.
Eternity Road.
Voyager/HarperCollins. 1997

Jack McDevitt.
HarperCollins. 1998

Jack McDevitt.
Slow Lightning (== Infinity Beach) .
Voyager/HarperCollins. 2000

Jack McDevitt.
Time Travelers Never Die.
Ace. 2009

expansion of the 1996 novella

Jack McDevitt, Mike Resnick.
The Cassandra Project.
Ace. 2012

Formerly a cynical, ambitious PR man, Jerry Culpepper finally found a client he could believe in when he was hired as NASA’S public affairs director. Proud of the Agency’s history and sure of its destiny, he was thrilled to be a part of its future.

But public disinterest and budget cuts changed that future. Now, a half century after the first Moon landing, Jerry feels like the only one with stars in his eyes.

Then a fifty-year-old secret about the Apollo Xl mission is revealed, and he finds himself embroiled in the biggest controversy of the twenty-first century, one that will test his ability—and his willingness—to spin the truth about a conspiracy of reality-altering proportions…

Jack McDevitt.
Headline. 2015

A ten-thousand-year-old stargate has been discovered on a Sioux reservation. Travel through the gate leads to three mysterious destinations: a seemingly empty garden world; a strange maze of underground passageways; and a space station with a view of a galaxy that appears to be the Milky Way.

The race to explore and claim the stargate quickly escalates. Two opposing camps emerge, divided over whether the stargate is an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research or a disastrous threat to national – if not planetary – security.

Especially since travel through the stargate isn’t necessarily only one way…

Jack McDevitt.
A Talent for War.
Ace. 1989

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2004

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2005

Jack McDevitt.
The Devil's Eye.
Ace. 2008

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2010

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2011

Jack McDevitt.
Coming Home.
Headline. 2014

Alex Benedict is on the trail of some of the rarest and most valuable artifacts in the universe: items from the first space race, when all human life was restricted to the planet Earth. A prominent archaeologist Alex knows has said that no more exist – but when the archaeologist dies, a strange piece of twentieth-century tech found in his apartment suggests otherwise.

Meanwhile, in the depths of space a dangerous drama is unfolding. 3,000 passengers on the interstellar cruise ship Capella are trapped in an ever-shifting transdimensional space warp. For the oblivious travellers, just a few days have passed, but for those at home it’s been eleven long years. Now there is hope of a rescue if they can find where the ship will next appear, but there’s a high risk of failure – and agonizing death for all on board, including Alex’s lost uncle Gabe.

While Alex plumbs the deepening mystery of the artifacts, his ace pilot Chase joins a flotilla of spaceships in a desperate rendezvous with the Capella.

Jack McDevitt.
Octavia Gone.
Pocket. 2019

Lost in space for eleven years, Gabe has returned and is trying to find a new life for himself after being assumed dead just as Alex and Chase ore relearning how to live and work with him. Fortunately, when a seemingly alien artifact goes missing from Gobe’s old collection, its origins come into question, granting everyone an opportunity to delve into something impossible, once again, as a team.

As they discover that the artifact is linked to a dead pilot’s sole unrecorded trip, another clue leads to one of the galaxy’s greatest mysteries: the infamous disappearance of a team of scientists aboard a space station that was orbiting a block hole—the equivalent in their time to the Amelia Earhart disappearance. Alex, Chase, and Gabe may be on the trail of the greatest archaeological discovery of their careers.

Jack McDevitt.
Headline. 2013

Priscilla ‘Hutch’ Hutchins has completed a nerve-bending qualification flight for an interstellar pilot’s licence. But her career may be over before it has begun. Faster-than-light travel has only recently become a reality and the World Space Authority is all too aware of how dangerous it can be.

To make matters worse, efforts to prepare two planets for colonization are killing off native species, outraging people on Earth. So pilots are not exactly in demand.

But Priscilla’s ambition won’t be denied. Soon she is on the bridge of an interstellar ship, working for the corporation responsible for the terraforming. She faces bomb threats, sabotage…and a mission to a world adrift between the stars which harbours a life form unlike anything humanity has ever seen.

This is the ultimate baptism of fire.

Jack McDevitt.
The Engines of God.
Ace. 1994

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 14 August 1996

The year is 2202. Earth has interstellar capability, and has discovered a few dead civilisations, one 'early 20th Century' one, and the signs of the highly advanced mysterious 'Monument Makers'. Global warming has the upper hand, and Earth itself seems to be entering a decline. Some see the only hope for humanity to be a fresh start on a newly terraformed planet.

Interstellar pilot Priscilla Hutchins, 'Hutch', is assigned to evacuate a team of xeno-archaeologists from Quraqua, before the terraformers start their job by melting its icecaps with nuclear explosions.

The archaeologists have just discovered that the Qurauqan civilisation had contact with the Monument Makers, and there is the possibility of at last deciphering their language. The race against time to recover enough language examples to enable a translation before they have to leave makes up the first half of the book. In the second half Hutch and some of the archaeologists use the information they have deciphered to attempt to track down the Monument Makers, and to work out why they built large right-angled monuments near now-destroyed civilisations.

So, who were the aliens? Why did they build all those great square monuments? Why did they disappear? Why is there an 8000 year cycle to alien civilisations? Finding the answers to these questions is reasonably fun. But of necessity, the ending doesn't manage to live up to its build-up, and some of the answers are telegraphed too early on. And it screams for a sequel.

The story revolves around the characters more than the technology, but even so, none of the characters feel very 'real' to me. Even when described as acting passionately -- some of them are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to discover The Truth -- they seem very dispassionate.

Jack McDevitt.
HarperCollins. 2001

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2002

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2003

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2006

Jack McDevitt.
Ace. 2007