From Publishers Weekly
Having mastered the big, sprawling adventure stories called space opera in books like Chindi, McDevitt extends the form in this feel-good SF novel that earns its hopeful conclusion. Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchens, heroine of several of McDevitt's previous novels, has had a full career as a space pilot and is now administrator of the government agency in charge of space research. Like most people, she's only mildly concerned with the long-range threat of the omega clouds, masses of energy floating through the universe that detect and pulverize artificial structures (and the intelligent creatures that live in them). After all, the cloud headed for Earth is 900 years away. This situation changes when a charmingly innocent young alien race is discovered just a few months before a cloud will obliterate it. Hutch has to juggle resources to save the cute creatures, at the same concealing the human intervention in order not to disrupt the alien civilization's development. The cloud's implacable threat keeps the action tightly focused, though the story shifts viewpoint frequently to show crowds of people committing themselves to different aspects of the mission. Part of the rescue effort involves spaceships and gadgets, but the most serious part depends on human intelligence and passion. McDevitt is very good at imagining strange challenges-and at picturing humans coping when things don't work out as planned. His characters succeed in imposing their compassion on the void.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The trilogy McDevitt began with The Engines of God
(1994) and continued in Chindi
[BKL Jl 02] concludes in a decisive confrontation with the omega clouds. Semisentient, coherent energy fronts, the clouds obliterate every civilization in their path, and one of them is projected to reach Earth in 900 years. It is much closer to destroying the Korbikkan civilization of humanoid sentients, one of just three other sentient races known to humanity. Can humanity afford to deploy the resources of scientific talent and weapons needed to save another race without putting its own existence at risk? Can a human rescue team save a whole world without letting the inhabitants know they are being saved? As before, McDevitt forges out of ethical dilemmas a plot as gripping as any action fan could want--not that it is lacking in action, hardware, and complex characterization. A felicitous concoction that rather recalls Gregory Benford's and David Brin's stuff, and surely will please their fans as well as McDevitt's. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved