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Infinity Beach Hardcover – January 26, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; 1st edition (January 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061051233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061051234
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,428,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What happens when first contact goes horribly wrong? When that initial meeting between two sentient species leads to utter confusion and misunderstanding, murder and hijacking, and a tight-lipped coverup for years afterward? Jack McDevitt sets this situation up in Infinity Beach, describing humanity at the end of the third millennium as a solitary race, seemingly alone in the cosmos even after colonizing many worlds beyond Earth: "The universe has come to resemble a magnificent but sterile wilderness, an ocean which boasts no friendly coast, no sails, no sign that any have passed this way before." But a ship in search of life returned years earlier under suspicious circumstances, with two crew members missing, one presumed dead in an unexplained explosion, and the fourth retired into silence. Tales of apparitions, strange lights, and voices near the explosion site persist. No one's talking, but the scientist sister (and clone) of one of the missing shipmates starts asking questions and finds herself at the heart of a complex and frightening puzzle.

McDevitt, an accomplished storyteller and perennial Nebula runner-up, proves to have an excellent ear for such drama, telling a solid story that exudes mood and atmosphere while still staying tense enough to keep those pages turning. By turns a murder mystery, ghost story, and solid sci-fi thriller, Infinity Beach takes one of the genre's more prosaic schticks--first contact--and gives it a twist with style and skill: when you do make contact, what you find might scare you. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

HA thousand years in the future, on the terraformed planet Greenaway, humanity has everything to make itself comfortable and complacent--longevity, leisure and luxury are all readily available. But one question remains: Is humanity alone in the universe? Kimberly Brandywine doesn't necessarily believe in aliens, until she hears that her missing elder "sister," of whom she's a clone, may have been murdered, along with some crewmates, by celestial beings after a voyage aboard a space yacht. Her sister/clone's disappearance has long haunted Kim, whose search for the truth takes her underwater and into space, loses her a lover and causes her to commit crimes (including stealing a spaceship). Kim's efforts to solve the mystery of the vanishing and to make first contact with the aliens presumably behind it are hampered by the general malaise society has sunk into. And since death appears to follow in the wake of the aliens, Kim wavers about whether first contact will be beneficial or will destroy civilization as she knows it. McDevitt (Eternity Road) has created a future that is technologically sound and filled with hubristic, foolish people who make choices based more on how they will look to history than on what's best for it. Though his aliens are insubstantial (both physically and on the page), the mystery of what happened to Kim's sister and her fellow celestial seekers unfolds as precisely as an origami flower, and will hold readers in thrall. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Jack McDevitt's a new Sci-Fi favorite!
Gerald H. Beever
Sometimes the logic seems a bit slippery and the characters a little flat; but the main character is sufficiently sympathetic to guide you through the book.
Joshua Villines
Top-notch adventure, strong characters, a gripping mystery, burnished prose, and good science--this book has it all.
Catherine Asaro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Asaro on March 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Infinity Beach takes the reader on an exciting ride. Top-notch adventure, strong characters, a gripping mystery, burnished prose, and good science--this book has it all.

Twenty-seven years prior to the opening of the main story, four interstellar explorers in search of extraterrestrial life unexpectedly return home early from a mission. Two of the four disappear, and a third is killed in an explosion that devastates a mountain on their home world. The fourth team member, the starship captain, never flies again and eventually dies in a planetary rescue mission far from his home. Although the authorities suspect foul play in the explosion, they have neither proof nor motive, and never solve the case.

What happened? And why?

This mystery forms the centerpiece of Infinity Beach. The main character, Doctor Kim Brandywine, is the younger sister to one of the missing explorers. A relative of the other vanished explorer convinces Kim to conduct her own investigation into what happened twenty-seven years ago.

Much of the action takes place on the terraformed planet of Greenway. Machines care for the needs of its human settlers, most everyone has a healthy youth and extended lives, and almost no crime exists. However, rumors of strange ghostly phenomena run wild in the region of the explosion. No one has proof and the stories are dismissed--at least officially.

Kim is drawn into a puzzle that becomes ever more complex, involving incidents that happened far from Greenway, in interstellar space. McDevitt develops the mystery beautifully, introducing one clue here, another there, tantalizing the reader with bits and pieces of the puzzle.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Pascal Thiel on August 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sometime in the future... Earth's population spread out to nine planets, thanks to faster-than-light starships. It is the year 600 on Earth's colony planet Greenway, and scientist Kim Brandywine gets a phonecall from her former history teacher, bringing back the past to her. Three decades ago, Kim's clone sister vanished after a failed mission to find extraterrestrial life. But did the mission really fail?
These prerequisites are at the start of McDevitt's excellent novel which is a hybrid of different styles: hard SF, first contact but mostly a classic detective story. It's been ages since I read a SF novel where the author builds up so much suspense that you have a hard time putting the book down. The hard SF elements give the book a nicely futuristic atmosphere, but even people who are more into generic mystery literature will be able to get a kick out of this book.
McDevitt has the rare ability of combining a concise vision of the future with a remarkably accessible writing style. The positive message the book leaves at the end makes `Infinity Beach' a one-of-a-kind book that deserves to be read by a multitude of people.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "graham" on April 12, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
McDevitt is a master of creating a mystery of cosmological proportions. When he is on, as for "Engines of God", the result is a poignant expoloration of the human condition within the context of the universe.
Unfortunately, Infinity Beach falls quite short of these expectations. The beginning is wonderful, but then the execution of the idea fails. Character development is pedantic, and more time is spent on the actual footwork of solving the mystery, rather than developing the main theme of the novel.
In short, the characters were un-memorable and it was a struggle to finish the book. If you want to experience the author at his best, my opinion is that you should read Engines of God.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 9, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I found the first half of this to be a very engaging mystery, though one having little to do with science fiction. Had the prologue not been there, I'd have thought I was reading a suspense thriller that was set in a bland society somewhere, and an effective thriller at that. It pulled me right along until we started getting answers.

The answers, frankly, were clunkers. Sure, they explained things, but the explanation was basically that everyone involved was an idiot with the brains of a five year old, and not a smart five year old. It was like watching an accident about to happen on a playground because everyone wanted to get on one particular swing. I winced at reading this. I suppose it's not unlikely that there be idiots in space, but why write about them? This dropped the book to a 3 out of 5 for me.

I'd like to address other readers' complaints about the blandness of the world, and the characters in general. First, the blandness was planned. It's clear that McDevitt, from the book and comments elsewhere, intends this book to show that we need to stretch our horizons. It's what the title means. Humans aren't meant to stick close to the beach. We'll always believe that there's something out there that we'll find if only we search hard enough. It's a major theme of this novel. The bland society that had developed on this planet made that instinct awaken among some of those living there to reach out and search.

Second, concerning character development. Only one character was really explored in depth, and that was the heroine Kim. The story is told from her point of view. She was a passable female (as a female I think I'm qualified to judge), and Mcdevitt made far more of an attempt than most sf writers to write from a female perspective.
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