Sunday, February 25, 2007

Odyssey - Jack McDevitt



Odyssey
Jack McDevitt
Ace

Science Fiction

Set several centuries in the future, humanity as a whole is a bit disenchanted with space exploration. There has never been a viable space colony set up anywhere; and, perhaps more importantly, space travel never really paid off in corporate terms. It costs a lot, but brings in extremely little. That’s why journalist and newspaper editor Gregory MacAllister, along with many others, has begun loudly questioning the wisdom of continuing the deep space program. In his articles, he argues quite persuasively that the money going to the space program could be put to much better use on Earth, where global warming continues to be an issue.

Patricia “Hutch” Hutchins, once captain of deep space exploration vessels is now flying a desk at the Academy, the future equivalent of NASA. While she’s disappointed with her friend’s editorial stance, it’s not entirely unreasonable, based on recent events. While she, and the Academy, are facing massive cutbacks, sightings of moonriders, space objects that look like some kind of spacecraft, increase sharply. When it looks like some of these objects changed the path of a meteor, causing the destruction of an off-world hotel, and a very near miss with Earth, Hutch puts together a mission to discover the truth.

This is clearly the latest in a series of books concerning Hutch. It’s easy to read as a standalone, but I admit that it made me want to go back and read previous volumes, too. While much of the story obviously takes place in space, it’s really the characters that are the center of the book. Hutch and MacAllister have a long history, and the characters are nicely nuanced. I could have done without the teenager on the crew, but that’s just a personal preference. The author does a fine job of projecting realistic issues, both large and small, into the future, and populating his book with believable characters.

Rating: 7
November 2006
ISBN# 0-441-01433-X (hardcover)

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