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.