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Jack McDevitt loves a good mystery. And he enjoys baffling his readers with enigmas like why, after so many years of listening with no results, would a SETI director hear an artificial signal and keep it quiet? Why might an astronomer at a space station, facing imminent death from a solar radiation blast, send off a frantic message that he had discovered a Clyde Tombaugh S Jack McDevitt loves a good mystery. And he enjoys baffling his readers with enigmas like why, after so many years of listening with no results, would a SETI director hear an artificial signal and keep it quiet? Why might an astronomer at a space station, facing imminent death from a solar radiation blast, send off a frantic message that he had discovered a Clyde Tombaugh Special? Tombaugh, of course, was the discoverer of Pluto. What really happened to Christopher Sim, the George Washington of the war against the Ashiyyur? Why had a beloved artist at the top of his profession, with everything to live for, killed himself? Why had a brilliant young biologist discovered how life got started on Earth, but neglected to tell anyone? And there are of course other anomalies to be encountered in McDevitt's work: A computer threatens the literary world, while a time traveler worries the churches. One artificial intelligence runs for president, and another claims to be a Catholic and demands access to the sacraments. Two friends discover that whenever they get together, shuttles crash, wars break out, or tidal waves hammer a coastline. A researcher watches endless fighting on another world and finally rebels against the Academy's hands-off doctrine. Meantime, a crewman stranded light-years from Earth, entertains himself by intercepting radio broadcasts from home, originally transmitted during World War II. Among other questions these tales will answer: What might happen when people in a research lab literally try to play God. Why you don't ever, ever, want to turn out the lights at Bolton's Tower in the Dakotas. Why someone might want to blow up a star. And why it would be a really good idea if Hatch kept his hands off the mallet. These, and twenty-three other cosmic rides, await the reader. Contents: Cryptic (1983) The Fort Moxie Branch (1988) Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City (2001) Tweak (2007) Melville on Iapetus (1983) Lighthouse (2006) by Jack McDevitt and Michael Shara Cool Neighbor (2007) by Jack McDevitt and Michael Shara Whistle (1989) In the Tower (1987) Ignition (2005) Indomitable (2008) Last Contact (1988) Never Despair (1997) Windows (2004) Dutchman (1987) The Tomb (1991) Promises to Keep (1984) To Hell with the Stars (1987) The Mission (2004) Report from the Rear (1998) Black to Move (1982) The Far Shore (1982) Sunrise (1988) Kaminsky at War (2006) Fifth Day (2007) Deus Tex (1996) Gus (1991) Welcome to Valhalla (2008) by Jack McDevitt and Kathryn Lance Tyger (1991) Auld Lang Boom (1992) Cruising through Deuteronomy (1995) The Candidate (2006) Act of God (2004) Ellie (1995) Time's Arrow (1989) Dead in the Water (1999) Henry James, This One's for You (2005) Time Travellers Never Die (1996)


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Jack McDevitt loves a good mystery. And he enjoys baffling his readers with enigmas like why, after so many years of listening with no results, would a SETI director hear an artificial signal and keep it quiet? Why might an astronomer at a space station, facing imminent death from a solar radiation blast, send off a frantic message that he had discovered a Clyde Tombaugh S Jack McDevitt loves a good mystery. And he enjoys baffling his readers with enigmas like why, after so many years of listening with no results, would a SETI director hear an artificial signal and keep it quiet? Why might an astronomer at a space station, facing imminent death from a solar radiation blast, send off a frantic message that he had discovered a Clyde Tombaugh Special? Tombaugh, of course, was the discoverer of Pluto. What really happened to Christopher Sim, the George Washington of the war against the Ashiyyur? Why had a beloved artist at the top of his profession, with everything to live for, killed himself? Why had a brilliant young biologist discovered how life got started on Earth, but neglected to tell anyone? And there are of course other anomalies to be encountered in McDevitt's work: A computer threatens the literary world, while a time traveler worries the churches. One artificial intelligence runs for president, and another claims to be a Catholic and demands access to the sacraments. Two friends discover that whenever they get together, shuttles crash, wars break out, or tidal waves hammer a coastline. A researcher watches endless fighting on another world and finally rebels against the Academy's hands-off doctrine. Meantime, a crewman stranded light-years from Earth, entertains himself by intercepting radio broadcasts from home, originally transmitted during World War II. Among other questions these tales will answer: What might happen when people in a research lab literally try to play God. Why you don't ever, ever, want to turn out the lights at Bolton's Tower in the Dakotas. Why someone might want to blow up a star. And why it would be a really good idea if Hatch kept his hands off the mallet. These, and twenty-three other cosmic rides, await the reader. Contents: Cryptic (1983) The Fort Moxie Branch (1988) Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City (2001) Tweak (2007) Melville on Iapetus (1983) Lighthouse (2006) by Jack McDevitt and Michael Shara Cool Neighbor (2007) by Jack McDevitt and Michael Shara Whistle (1989) In the Tower (1987) Ignition (2005) Indomitable (2008) Last Contact (1988) Never Despair (1997) Windows (2004) Dutchman (1987) The Tomb (1991) Promises to Keep (1984) To Hell with the Stars (1987) The Mission (2004) Report from the Rear (1998) Black to Move (1982) The Far Shore (1982) Sunrise (1988) Kaminsky at War (2006) Fifth Day (2007) Deus Tex (1996) Gus (1991) Welcome to Valhalla (2008) by Jack McDevitt and Kathryn Lance Tyger (1991) Auld Lang Boom (1992) Cruising through Deuteronomy (1995) The Candidate (2006) Act of God (2004) Ellie (1995) Time's Arrow (1989) Dead in the Water (1999) Henry James, This One's for You (2005) Time Travellers Never Die (1996)

30 review for Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack McDevitt

  1. 5 out of 5

    Metaphorosis

    Jack McDevitt is at his best in ruins. I first encountered him in The Engines of God, the first of a series in which humans seem to constantly stumble across alien ruins created by the Monument Makers. I went on to Eternity Road, in which post-apocalyptic humans look for the mysteries behind vast ruins. Even his other series, starting with A Talent for War and Polaris, is about a tomb-raider. These novels have generally been intriguing from start to finish. McDevitt is an expert at creating and Jack McDevitt is at his best in ruins. I first encountered him in The Engines of God, the first of a series in which humans seem to constantly stumble across alien ruins created by the Monument Makers. I went on to Eternity Road, in which post-apocalyptic humans look for the mysteries behind vast ruins. Even his other series, starting with A Talent for War and Polaris, is about a tomb-raider. These novels have generally been intriguing from start to finish. McDevitt is an expert at creating and keeping a sense of wonder and discovery, and I've bought all his books. I was excited, therefore, to find Cryptic, which not only promised to be interesting, but was good value for money. It's paid off. The collection is broken into sections, which aren't really explained despite a sizable foreword. The stories aren't presented chronologically, but the book reads as if they were. The first section, "Unlikely Connections", contains some of the weakest. Frankly, some of them are just not very good, though they're not bad either. Persevere past the first few, and you'll reach some stronger collaborations with Michael Shara. In section 2, "Lost Treasure", McDevitt starts to hit his stride, including with a companion to Eternity Road. The rest of the sections are at or slightly below that level, which makes this a very satisfying read. There are ancient ruins, distant worlds, and a sense of loneliness throughout. There are very few actual aliens, but there's a good mix of philosophy and light-handed theological speculation. There are quite a lot of historical references - much more so than in McDevitt's novels. It's never too dense though - I'm sure it adds to the story for those who like it, but it didn't get in the way for those of us who don't. Aside from the weak opening section, the only negative her is also a positive. This is a lot of McDevitt. In terms of value, you're unlikely to do better - this is a boatload of stories for a pretty low price. But I'd advise reading some, taking a break, coming back, etc. There's a certain sameness that pervades the stories, making them a touch predictable, at least in terms of their resolution and emotional impact. Spaced apart, it's easier to see them for the (mostly) excellent stories they are. All in all, a substantial collection of very good stories by an excellent writer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Mourgos

    I really like Jack's novels but I thought I'd take a shot at his short fiction works. I especially liked his time travel stories, including Times Arrow and Time Travellers Never Die (from which he expanded it into a novel). He also told several stories from the Priscilla Hutch universe which was fun and insightful. A man decides to get involved with the Nok's civil war. He's tired of just being an observer and takes an active role in messing up the battles and saving lives, much against the Prim I really like Jack's novels but I thought I'd take a shot at his short fiction works. I especially liked his time travel stories, including Times Arrow and Time Travellers Never Die (from which he expanded it into a novel). He also told several stories from the Priscilla Hutch universe which was fun and insightful. A man decides to get involved with the Nok's civil war. He's tired of just being an observer and takes an active role in messing up the battles and saving lives, much against the Prime Directive (remember that one, Trek fans?). Hutch gets involved and the story leaves the reader with a complex plot with a simple answer. Nicely done. Other stories in the mix were pretty good, some not so much, it's a matter of taste. Took me a long time to get through the book as there are so many stories. 'Henry James, This One's For You' about a computer who can write the perfect novel, threatening to put regular writers and editors out of business. What would you do? Crazy ending. There's more: Part I: Unlikely Connections Cryptic The Fort Moxie Branch Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City Tweak Melville on Iapetus Lighthouse (with Michael Shara) Cool Neighbor (with Michael Shara) Whistle In the Tower Part II: Lost Treasures Ignition Indomitable Last Contact Never Despair Windows Dutchman The Tomb Promises to Keep To Hell with the Stars The Mission Part III: Out There Report from the Rear Black to Move The Far Shore Sunrise Kaminsky at War Part IV: Touching the Infinite Fifth Day Deus Tex Gus Welcome to Valhalla (with Kathryn Lance) Tyger Auld Lang Boom Part V: Inventions and Fallout Cruising through Deuteronomy The Candidate Act of God Ellie Time's Arrow Dead in the Water Henry James, This One's for You Time Travellers Never Die

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Nietz

    I’ve been a Jack McDevitt fan for some time now. I’ve read many of his novels, and at least one earlier collection of his short stories. So I couldn’t resist this collection when I saw it was available. (And at under 5 bucks to boot!) “Cryptic” has nearly forty stories, covering everything from time travel to space exploration to galactic conflict. Some of the stories, like “The Fort Moxi Branch” and “Auld Lang Boom” have a genuine Bradbury feel, while others, like “Lighthouse” and “Melville on I I’ve been a Jack McDevitt fan for some time now. I’ve read many of his novels, and at least one earlier collection of his short stories. So I couldn’t resist this collection when I saw it was available. (And at under 5 bucks to boot!) “Cryptic” has nearly forty stories, covering everything from time travel to space exploration to galactic conflict. Some of the stories, like “The Fort Moxi Branch” and “Auld Lang Boom” have a genuine Bradbury feel, while others, like “Lighthouse” and “Melville on Iapetus” are reminiscent of something Clarke might write. Really, there is a lot to enjoy her for fan and newcomer alike. My personal favorites are the previous mentioned “Melville” (about a space relic), “Gus” (about a very special painting), “Kiminsky at War” (a scientist who gets a little too involved), and “Time Travelers Never Die” (an excellent time travel tale). A caveat to the reader: McDevitt’s universe is arguably a lonely one, where aliens are few, space is vast and dangerous, and even God is impersonal and uninvolved. Within that structure, though, he crafts wonderfully executed tales. This is a great collection. Worth every penny.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    I’ve always loved Jack McDevitt. I think he’s one of the best writers out there, regardless of genre. Not everything he writes is totally engaging, but when he’s on, he’s hard to beat. A couple of his series are among the best I’ve ever read. This book is a little different from some of his novels but most fans should enjoy this. Recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    Science Fiction, like many other genres, have die-hard supporters as well as vociferous critics. The critics too often criticise the stories for having wooden characters, absurd science, and excessive fascination with spaceships & stars (is it co-incidental that these two components make up the logo of the Galactic Empire conceived by Isaac Asimov, in his "Foundation"-saga?). The supporters, with equal vehemence, emphasise the action-driven plots, the sense of wonder conveyed by the scenario whe Science Fiction, like many other genres, have die-hard supporters as well as vociferous critics. The critics too often criticise the stories for having wooden characters, absurd science, and excessive fascination with spaceships & stars (is it co-incidental that these two components make up the logo of the Galactic Empire conceived by Isaac Asimov, in his "Foundation"-saga?). The supporters, with equal vehemence, emphasise the action-driven plots, the sense of wonder conveyed by the scenario where often the lone warrior (again, mostly man, and hence criticised by feminists) fights for the destiny of mankind. In the tussle between these two, we have often had compromises where good old story-telling had to be severely compromised through super-slow character building and heady philosophy, perfected by Robert Silverberg and Kim Stanley Robinson, but mostly mediocre works like those being endorsed by even respected editors like Gardner Dozois. Otherwise, there were editors who were not ready to go beyond the ABC (Asimov-Bradbury-Clarke) regime and denounced everything else as pulp-era throwbacks. There were exceptions, but too few amidst all the morass. Fortunately, Jack McDevitt, who has built up an impressive collection of sci-fi novels, got an opportunity to showcase his story-telling art through shorter works via this beautiful hardback collection brought out by the good people at Subterranean Press. The best thing about these stories are that they compell you to think like the protagonist, and often the others as well. They would drive you up against pretty disturbing notions (although nothing deviant, he is very proper in that sense), and can generate a few nightmares that would stay with you fro quite some time. But the best thing about this collection was that there were hardly any outright clunkers in here, while each story had challenged my notions about several things that we generally take-for-granted. If you prefer your science fiction to be of thoughtful-yet-enjoyable variety, this is the right book for you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    Please note: This should be CrypTic (with a T). For the McDevitt fans, this is a great place to find his short stories collected together in one place. What a nice tribute. I am not a huge short story fan, but these were all enjoyable. It was more even than many collections I've read lately. And it was interesting to see the scope of sci fi written over a lengthy period of time. A nice range. I wish that the characterization (especially in the females) had been stronger. (But that's just me. Most r Please note: This should be CrypTic (with a T). For the McDevitt fans, this is a great place to find his short stories collected together in one place. What a nice tribute. I am not a huge short story fan, but these were all enjoyable. It was more even than many collections I've read lately. And it was interesting to see the scope of sci fi written over a lengthy period of time. A nice range. I wish that the characterization (especially in the females) had been stronger. (But that's just me. Most readers probably won't care.) * * * Snark Alert: I do have to point out that in McDevitt's books, (this one no exception), good woman and heroine = sexually attractive to every male that they meet. Sometimes, like Hutch, they're smart and competent too! Woo hoo! But 'not sexually attractive' seems to inevitably = villainess or incompetent or bitch. Which is kind of boring and annoying for female readers like myself, I think. But most of these stories were written some time ago, so I'll give him a pass. You can definitely tell that sci fi was written mainly for male readers. It comes off as such a sexist fantasy sometimes to me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pat Patterson

    I obtained this book from Baen Publishing on the occasion of Jack McDevitt's 82nd birthday. He is a remarkable writer, in that he didn't really start writing until he had finished all of his other careers. The late start certainly didn't have a negative impact on his creativity! The book is huge, containing (if my count is correct) 38 stories, from the beginning of his writing career in 1982 to 2008, when this volume was first published. And that rich treasure chest is why I find myself unable to I obtained this book from Baen Publishing on the occasion of Jack McDevitt's 82nd birthday. He is a remarkable writer, in that he didn't really start writing until he had finished all of his other careers. The late start certainly didn't have a negative impact on his creativity! The book is huge, containing (if my count is correct) 38 stories, from the beginning of his writing career in 1982 to 2008, when this volume was first published. And that rich treasure chest is why I find myself unable to take the same approach to this review as I is my custom with collections of short stories. Usually, I do a brief synopsis of each story, and then move on to the next one. I can't do that here, because it would turn into a TL;DR, and I'd become SO tempted to give spoilers, I'd probably give in. Instead, I'm just going to throw in a few impressions, of the book in general, and of a very few of the stories in particular. General impression #1: One of my fellow reviewers states that McDevitt doesn't like conservatives or Christians. I THINK I understand how he came to that conclusion, at least with respect to his regard for Christians, but I don't think I can go along with it; of the nature of conservatives, liberals, etc, I remain intentionally ignorant. I'm guessing that the scene in which a pastor pulls a gun on a scientist is part of the reason my colleague sees hostility toward Christianity. There is another story in which an artificial intelligence, which develops the personality of St Augustine, causes certain clergy to develop a crisis of faith. There are others as well. I don't see them as being hostile to Christianity, however; at least, I didn't find them to be personally offensive, and I am a communicant of that faith. Instead, I see both of those stories, and others, as stripping away a false facade of human custom, without attacking the core beliefs within. YMMV. General impression #2: The title of the collection, 'Cryptic', is as well chosen as it could be. So many of his stories are mysteries, or rather, stories which identify a mystery, without giving us a clear solution. And some of the stories are just delightful! My favorites: The Fort Moxie Branch: imagine a library that contained the very best lost works of authors; and the entire output of unknowns. That's the Fort Moxie Branch! Whistle: We get a message from the stars. It's not what we expected, at all. LOST TREASURE is an entire section of the book that deals with what happens now that we have reached the moon (or the stars) and then pulled back. I don't particularly LIKE these stories, because they represent a reality I don't care for. They do a good job of it, though. Henry James, This one's For You: This is my favorite of all the short stories. From the slush pile of a small publishing house comes a book that will set the world on fire. It's simply the best that's ever been written. How ELSE could the editor/owner respond, except as he did?

  8. 4 out of 5

    THOMAS RYASKO

    Dont write about Best Buy Red Rock involving Non Caucassians with Bows And Arrows and If you keep it Togethor The general Population has to get back to you about the whole foods fellow the Santa Monica Region On A Scrooge set the relative Harold Glaugh meets Donald Hodinka Over the Rewuest of His Black and White Television involved in how to Rescue his Wife on the Basis Of the Whaleys BAsement seance downstairs to make sure Tom at 13 years younger than Donald Hodinka could see The Zebra fender T Dont write about Best Buy Red Rock involving Non Caucassians with Bows And Arrows and If you keep it Togethor The general Population has to get back to you about the whole foods fellow the Santa Monica Region On A Scrooge set the relative Harold Glaugh meets Donald Hodinka Over the Rewuest of His Black and White Television involved in how to Rescue his Wife on the Basis Of the Whaleys BAsement seance downstairs to make sure Tom at 13 years younger than Donald Hodinka could see The Zebra fender Truck parked In Los Alamitos The Date is involved in Hinge removal and recognition for the species of life that only scientists know In last night LeavIng Red Rock at Midnight one of those Hinge Inhabitors came to me through the Approvement Policies of James Wienrauch Van parked though on Ice If Harold Glaugh Had Tom with In-liner jacket over from 1976-1977 like in 1986-1987 -on and on Ill need to Know And the Date of a Poster of Marylin Monroe on a Fence some Border Town in the west just not Utah John the Slovakin father meets the Mother of Tom somewhere and on Someday the promise of Two fridays and one further Letter involved with Mice and riding on Boston terriers thier Shoulders this indeed started someplace on someday in some Zodiac The coin Found of 10 pesos with the Chile insignia was heard being stamped today 02-19-2020 it came from the Starbuck cup of Steve Mcqueen says farewell and Paul Wiendriech of the Romana Farewell the letters in a farewell are U_P_T_O To Do that Blue Cadillac rear passenger door parked for so long at El Pollo Loco Ill need to put a john Deere tractor away starting today and for Sure one Briefcase that Had Emil Huck is going to be needed starting Today to see that outline opf bronze in flattened metal no longer than 40 inches in a rectangular or square on paper like drawing dining Tables to some but if You where a little microobe inhabitor that evaporated from those days 1960s and all well down the street at deja Vu resale they advertise him involving Ostriches and rattler snakes aparantley the contestants of that starter button all 109 of them agreed to the Writers Digest if coming out of the Mouth Scrabble letters like from the game

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lyle Blosser

    A wondrous collection of stories from a master storyteller. These shorter tales give the reader a taste of what reading McDevitt in the longer form will be like: stories that invoke a sense of wonder, and are sometimes wistfully and achingly evocative of people and things lost to time or yet to be discovered. McDevitt's narrative characters are often almost completely unremarkable - if not for the company they keep and the events they witness. When they do get involved, it feels like we are righ A wondrous collection of stories from a master storyteller. These shorter tales give the reader a taste of what reading McDevitt in the longer form will be like: stories that invoke a sense of wonder, and are sometimes wistfully and achingly evocative of people and things lost to time or yet to be discovered. McDevitt's narrative characters are often almost completely unremarkable - if not for the company they keep and the events they witness. When they do get involved, it feels like we are right there with them, and we feel the emotional, philosophical and, yes, spiritual gut punches that the characters themselves feel.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    Terrific! There were stories that were curious in tone. There were stories that were humorous. All of them were great!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    A fun and engaging round of wonderful short stories!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Gibson

    Thank you ‘e’ scanning people for making this collection of short stories available to those of us who can not find a hard copy of this book anywhere. The stories range from ‘oh wow’ to ‘what the hell was that?’ They are all worth reading even though some of them seem like his note pad for the novels. Here is part of what I wrote on the novel ‘Echo.’ It applies here. “Even though his recent books are sort of boring, give me a minute to tell you why I still like this author: First of all he is a clo Thank you ‘e’ scanning people for making this collection of short stories available to those of us who can not find a hard copy of this book anywhere. The stories range from ‘oh wow’ to ‘what the hell was that?’ They are all worth reading even though some of them seem like his note pad for the novels. Here is part of what I wrote on the novel ‘Echo.’ It applies here. “Even though his recent books are sort of boring, give me a minute to tell you why I still like this author: First of all he is a closet archaeologist and there is an element of digging and discovering in all of his stories I find refreshing and intriguing. He has a childlike innocence when it comes to ancient ruins (sort of like the first time I entered Chaco Canyon) and some of his best writing is his rhapsodizing description of thousand year old remains (other-planetary, of course). He has also created a 3000-years-into-the-future world that is totally accessible, believable and acceptable (weird troika of adjectives, but you get what I mean). In his future world, humans have been exploring space for a thousand years and still have not found sentient life. Believe it or not, this actually makes for some genuinely suspenseful moments. Once he has explained the mechanics of space travel, ibots and other bits of culture, he never feels the need to go back and explain it all again (thank you). He assumes you are with him, which leaves him free to plunge into the story. McDeviate often deviates. Some people are annoyed by this. I find it fun to see what bit of pseudo-science will capture his attention for a couple pages of dither. Why not? It’s his world. And he clearly loves it. I get the feeling he is writing for himself and if you want to come along he will begrudgingly agree to let you.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert H

    If you like Jack McDevitt, then you'll very likely enjoy this book, which contains 38 short stories by the author written between 1983 and 2007. Some of these are only about the length of a chapter in a regular book, but others are much longer. Regardless of length, the stories are uniformly well written, and span some of the different universes in which McDevitt has written. While I've only read the Alex Benedict stories and hence recognised those set in that universe, including the short story If you like Jack McDevitt, then you'll very likely enjoy this book, which contains 38 short stories by the author written between 1983 and 2007. Some of these are only about the length of a chapter in a regular book, but others are much longer. Regardless of length, the stories are uniformly well written, and span some of the different universes in which McDevitt has written. While I've only read the Alex Benedict stories and hence recognised those set in that universe, including the short story that was later developed into A Talent for War, it was obvious that there is much more to McDevitt's creativity and talent than that particular universe. Several of the stories are linked by characters, which almost made it feel at times as though I were reading chapters in a book - even if they were much more self contained. Others were completely independent. Several suggested a somewhat atheistic bent by the author, though those were in the minority. Definitely recommended if you enjoy reading McDevitt, as you may well recognise characters from other books and novels. Also, despite being short stories, I found that the book was enjoyably long. Certainly worth the purchase price.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janta

    I had no idea McDevitt wrote short fiction until I ran across this at my library. As I've mentioned before, I've really liked his novels, and it was good to see him working in the briefer format of short stories. Many of these stories are short indeed, only running to three or four pages at times. McDevitt seems interested in the intersection of faith and science; several of the stories in this book feature characters struggling with questions of faith in an age of science. Though that's not nec I had no idea McDevitt wrote short fiction until I ran across this at my library. As I've mentioned before, I've really liked his novels, and it was good to see him working in the briefer format of short stories. Many of these stories are short indeed, only running to three or four pages at times. McDevitt seems interested in the intersection of faith and science; several of the stories in this book feature characters struggling with questions of faith in an age of science. Though that's not necessarily my favorite topic, I do feel like McDevitt handles the theme in a thoughful, even-handed way. If I had to guess I'd say that he is probably a religious person himself and has wondered about these questions he writes about. He's never heavy-handed or preachy about it, though. Overall, I really enjoyed this collection. I do wish there had been commentary on the stories, though. I would have liked to know more details about when they first appeared, what prompted him to write some of them, etc.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charles Fee

    Possibly the best short fiction since Arthur C. Clarke While Clarke may have turned more toward the human side of technological advancement, and thus had a style far different generally, he focused on the way PEOPLE were affected by the advancements in technology. Jack McDevitt's genuine genius in the way he populates some of the most creative treatments of both classic and modern themes with relatable characters caught up in , the cause of or the results of some of the most creative treatments o Possibly the best short fiction since Arthur C. Clarke While Clarke may have turned more toward the human side of technological advancement, and thus had a style far different generally, he focused on the way PEOPLE were affected by the advancements in technology. Jack McDevitt's genuine genius in the way he populates some of the most creative treatments of both classic and modern themes with relatable characters caught up in , the cause of or the results of some of the most creative treatments of some of the most creative ideas I've encountered in years ! I usually keep my thoughts on such things personal, and only rarely post my opinions like this, but if you like a creative and often surprising turn in a story, you're likely to find Jack McDevitt's work well worth your attention ! All my best - Enjoy !

  16. 4 out of 5

    T Dale

    Jack McDevitt is in my list of top ten hard SciFi authors alive today. This book of short stories contains some real gems. Such as, 'Cruising Through Deuteronomy' where a time machine tests the faith of a Born-a-gin Pastor, was the absolute best 4 page short story I have ever read until I read the story that followed it, 'The Candidate' where AI machines with historical minds imbedded in them can run for office. And there were more. All delightful and original. Jack McDevitt is in my list of top ten hard SciFi authors alive today. This book of short stories contains some real gems. Such as, 'Cruising Through Deuteronomy' where a time machine tests the faith of a Born-a-gin Pastor, was the absolute best 4 page short story I have ever read until I read the story that followed it, 'The Candidate' where AI machines with historical minds imbedded in them can run for office. And there were more. All delightful and original.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Micah Siegmund

    Great collection of short stories by one of the best in the sci-fi game. A couple of the standalone stories are a little weaker, but overall it is an engrossing read that gives glimpses into tantalizing futures, other worlds, and alternate realities. I particularly enjoyed the stories set in the "Academy" universe, which is one of my favorite sci fi series. An enjoyable book for anyone who likes the genre. Great collection of short stories by one of the best in the sci-fi game. A couple of the standalone stories are a little weaker, but overall it is an engrossing read that gives glimpses into tantalizing futures, other worlds, and alternate realities. I particularly enjoyed the stories set in the "Academy" universe, which is one of my favorite sci fi series. An enjoyable book for anyone who likes the genre.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chet

    I read this collection of short stories because I enjoyed the author's novels. I suspect that most people would have read the short stories, first, and then progressed to the full-length books. Some of the author's ideas were first presented as a short story, and then later expanded on when more space was available as a book, so, by reading the books, first, I read the expanded versions first, and then read the original ideas as short stories. It just didn't work out well for me. I read this collection of short stories because I enjoyed the author's novels. I suspect that most people would have read the short stories, first, and then progressed to the full-length books. Some of the author's ideas were first presented as a short story, and then later expanded on when more space was available as a book, so, by reading the books, first, I read the expanded versions first, and then read the original ideas as short stories. It just didn't work out well for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Hoodock

    This is a fabulous collection of short stories: entertaining and thought-provoking. I felt that each new story I read taught me something more about how to write. If you are interested in being entertained and like Sci-Fi, I highly recommend this book. If you are interested in writing, oh my goodness READ THIS BOOK!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Dvorak

    A thoroughly enjoyable, massive collection of short stories by Jack McDevitt. There are some recurrent themes across the stories, and a number of them include the same characters or reference the same events - adding some nice cohesion to the collection.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Cooksey

    Love the themes he explores here, and the short doses are just as enjoyable as his novels. A word of caution--many of these ideas became his novels, so there are some "spoilers" if you have a McDevitt reading plan. Love the themes he explores here, and the short doses are just as enjoyable as his novels. A word of caution--many of these ideas became his novels, so there are some "spoilers" if you have a McDevitt reading plan.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Frazer

    Pre cyber-punk, blast from the past, but still pertinent, as the best sci-fi explores what it means to be human...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    Soul consuming desolation and bleak isolation on the edge of a human future.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    While there were a couple stories I didn't like, the others more than made up for it. Some great stuff. While there were a couple stories I didn't like, the others more than made up for it. Some great stuff.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nate

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike Tassano

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cory Hubbell

  28. 4 out of 5

    Greg Cohen

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ben

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