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Chindi Hardcover – July 2, 2002

3.5 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Most science fiction seeks to excite and gratify the reader's sense of wonder. Jack McDevitt's hard SF novel Chindi both satisfies and examines this sense of wonder, which inspires not only SF readers and writers, but every explorer and scientist who seeks to understand the universe.

In Chindi, humanity has expanded to the stars and found very few other intelligent races--all but one extinct, with the survivor none too impressive. Humanity has resigned itself to being alone. Then an alien satellite is found, orbitting a distant star and beaming an unreadable signal across the galaxy. Academy starship Captain Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins finds herself piloting a motley crew of eccentrics (one an ex-lover) from the idealistic, ridiculed Contact Society, seeking the signal's destination. Their quest turns deadly as it takes them far beyond the borders of explored space to an impossible planetary system--and a vast and terrifying alien artifact.

Chindi is an ambitious, exciting, big-idea hard-SF novel that ventures successfully into Rendezvous with Rama territory, and beyond. The sequel to The Engines of God and Deepsix, Chindi leaves some unanswered questions for McDevitt's forthcoming fourth novel. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

In this sequel to last year's well-received Deepsix, McDevitt tells a curiously old-fashioned tale of interstellar adventure. Reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, the story sends veteran space pilot Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins and a crew of rich, amateur SETI enthusiasts off on a star-hopping jaunt in search of the mysterious aliens who have placed a series of "stealthed" satellites around an unknown number of planets. After visiting several worlds, and losing two of her dilettantes to a murderous group of alien angels, Hutch follows the interstellar trail to a bizarre, obviously artificial planetary system. There, two spectacular gas giants orbit each other closely, partially sharing the same atmosphere, while a large moon circles them in a theoretically impossible circumpolar orbit. The explorers soon discover a number of puzzling alien artifacts, including a gigantic spaceship that fails to respond to their signals. First contact is McDevitt's favorite theme, and he's also good at creating large and rather spectacular astronomical phenomena. Where this novel falls short, however, is in the creation of characters. Hutch, beautiful and supremely competent, is an adequate hero, but virtually everyone else is a cartoon. The book abounds in foolhardy dilettantes, glory-hogging bureaucrats and capable space pilots. Oddly, in a novel set some 200 years in the future, McDevitt's cast is almost exclusively white and Anglo-Saxon. This is a serviceable enough space opera, but it operates far from the genre's cutting edge.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover; Book Club edition (July 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441009387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441009381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Royce E. Buehler on December 21, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
(***1/2)
A white-knuckle rescue mission that gets its tail singed by a supernova introduces us (those who haven't already met her in McDevitt's "Deep Six") to the gutsy superluminal pilot Hutch. She promptly accepts another mission to nanny a crew of starry eyed, deep pocketed SETI enthusiasts. There's a mysterious signal emanating from an otherwise lifeless and undistinguised double neutron star system, and they mean to check it out. The signal beam, leading on to relays, becomes a thread that traces a labyrinthine interstellar trail, with surprises and dangers at each turning. Does the trail have an end? Will the Contact Society finally meet beings from another advanced civilization face to face?
The hard science on display, and the Clarke-like restraint in not showing us too much of either the creators of the signal or the primitive aliens met along the way, had for me a comforting old-timey sci-fi feel. The book is good journeyman sf, with a few breathtaking sense-of-wonder scenes, and quite a few bursts of suspense that will keep you turning pages briskly through several chapters at a time.
On the downside, it also presents a few dry stretches. The repeated "oh, please, don't tell me you're going into that basement alone" recklessness of the Contact fans begins to stretch credulity, not to mention stretching sympathy for the party members mighty thin. And except for the clever and spectacular final rescue scheme, there's little here that's completely new. Nor is there much that provides food for thought once you step off the roller coaster at the end of the ride.
Still, if you crave your space opera with a hard science edge, "Chindi" is more than good enough to stave off your hunger pangs. And if some studio with a decent effects department doesn't pick up the movie option, they're missing a bet on an action packed summer blockbuster with an above average IQ.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Have you ever read one of those books that, once you get about halfway through, you're not quite sure you really want to finish, but you slog through anyway, hoping against hope that there's a big payoff at the end? And when you finally reach the conclusion, you feel about as satisfied as if you'd been served a plate of rice cakes when you were expecting steak?

Well, that's what "Chindi" like. This was the first time I'd read Jack McDevitt, and I admit I had pretty high expectations based on what I'd heard about him. Indeed, "Chindi" is not all bad. The heroine, resourceful spaceship captain Priscilla Hutchins, is a compelling character with whom we can genuinely sympathize. It's also clear that McDevitt has put some good thought into the practicalities and challenges of space travel and xeno-archeology. The first fifth of the book starts out at a crackling good pace. After a mysterious explosion kills another captain and his alien-seeking passengers, readers are tantalized with the promise of an interstellar archeological mystery.

Sadly, the book devolves into a wild goose chase as Hutch and her team of amateur xenologists try in vain to track down the alien intelligence thought to be the source of the fatal blast. The crew jumps from planet to planet, stumbling across alien races that are either long dead or living but hostile and of murderous intent.

Apart from Hutch, the characters are as thin as the paper they are written on. The only promising character other than Hutch is the legendary captain Preacher Brawley, who is unfortunately killed in the blast that sets up the plot. The rest of the cast is embarrassingly laughable -- a brash billionaire CEO, his lackey bureaucrat, his movie star wife, a brilliant scientist, an artist.
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3 Comments 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Chindi. I've noticed a lot other reviewers hitting the book on poor characterizations or for an unimaginative plot. To say either I think is unduly harsh. Yes, McDevitt could have drawn a few of his more minor characters a bit better...but I thought even those characters were drawn adequately enough. The major characters were certainly drawn well enough -- one in particular provoked an extremely annoyed reaction from me at several points. As for an unimaginative plot -- Chindi apparently has some similarities to other works of scifi -- I don't think that this makes Chindi any less of an interesting story.
I found Chindi to evoke a strong sense of mystery and wonder in me...two traits a good scifi book should have. There's unquestionably a lot out there and McDevitt does a good job theorizing about some of the possibilites. Chindi is third of four in the "Hutch" series (Engines of God & Deepsix before it, Omega after it)...within the context of the series the book is certainly a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
Jack McDevitt's new book, Chindi, starts out with an interesting idea. What would happen if a group of armchair adventurers hired a spaceship and made first contact with an alien civilization? The idea is intriguing but the author is unable to pull it off. The characters are caricatures, the pacing of the story is off, and the climax feels like a let down. After reading 400 pages I wanted some answers about who (or what) the aliens were. All that I got was a brief epilogue explaining that we still do not know what is going on. Where Jack McDevvit really shines is his ability to imagine grand astromonical settings for his story. His descriptions of the newly discovered planetary systems manage to evoke a sense of awe. Unfortunately this was not enough to hold my interest. Chindi is an interesting idea, but a dull book.
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