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Omega Hardcover – November 4, 2003

3.7 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover; 1 edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441010466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441010462
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan Burgoine on February 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Okay, first off - this was, hands down, the best McDevitt I've read to date. If you've not read McDevitt, and are at all a fan of Science Fiction, you need to go out there and find yourself a copy of 'The Engines of God,' 'Infinity Beach,' 'Deepsix,' and 'Chindi.' Now. If you're not a huge fan of Science Fiction, let me tell you, though there's some astrophysics in there, McDevitt writes a lot more sociologically, adventure-action, and philosophically than nearly any other contemporary science fiction author I know, with the exception of Robert J. Sawyer. That said, his style is quite deft, as is Sawyer's, and a lot of people just don't 'get' it - as is obvious from some of the reviews written here. I happily suggest reading a chapter in the store prior to purchase, though I've yet to meet someone while working in my bookstore's Sci-Fi section who didn't like McDevitt.

Okay, fan-boy praising hereby endeth.

The story picks up the character of Priscilla Hutchins (who, now married and with a kiddy, plays a much more administrative and planet-bound role) and the storyline of the Omega clouds. Strange clouds that pop up, find anything remotely geometrical (especially, say, buildings), and blast them to bits. They're all over the universe, but why worry, as the one heading towards earth is not due for another, oh, nine hundred years. Yawn.

But one of them being tracked by the Academy makes a right turn, and this time, in McDevitt's nearly lifeless galaxy, seems to be setting its sights on levelling an alien race who are somewhere around the Ancient Greece level of evolution. In about nine months.

The race is on - but to do what? Try to stop the cloud - no one knows how.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Omega" is the fourth novel in the Priscilla Hutchins series, and quite possibly the last, though I hope not.

The archaelogical mysteries which were prevalent in the first three books are gone, replaced by a xeno-sociology/rescue mission. A new, thriving medieval civilization has been discovered on the world of Lookout. There's just one catch: an omega cloud, those mysterious galactic phenomena that attack and destroy anything with straight lines - buildings for instance, is headed right for it.

The inhabitants have been dubbed "Goompahs" after a cartoon character whom they resemble. Images of the creatures builds sympathy for them back home and a rescue mission is conceived. One drawback, besides the lack of time, is that there must be as little contact with the natives as possible, so as to prevent, or at least, minimize "culture shock". The question of "How do you rescue a people without them knowing that you're there" arises.

Hutch, true to her word in "Chindi", has quit her career as pilot and, as a reward for her past work, now works as high ranking bureaucrat at the Space Academy. She organizes the rescue mission but doesn't actually go. She's regulated to a supporting character role in this book, which was a disappointment for me as McDevitt has made her a likable character. Instead, the book's main characters are Digby "Digger" Dunn and David Collingdale.

Digger, who was on the original exploratory ship, initially isn't intent on saving the Goompahs so much as he's attracted to Kellie, the pilot of the ship he's on. But an accident, taking the life of the expedition leader, forces him into the leadership role while the relief mission scrambles to get there in time.
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Format: Hardcover
Strangely enough (the book was released quite a while ago) I've found myself to be the first one to review it. Everyone's waiting for paperback? (I've actually tuned in to READ opinions on this one, but since there are none - I'll put my two cents.)

This book is rather typical for Jack McDevitt of late. I'm a huge fan of his, and to me his best work is still _A Talent for War_, with _Infinity Beach_ and _Ancient Shores_ coming very close. In his best efforts he creates an intriguing mystery and explores it with us through main protagonists. This scheme fully applies to all the books in the _Hutch trilogy_: _The Engines of God_, _Chindi_, and the last one, _Omega_ (well, there's also the _Deepsix_, but it's more of a _rescue-them_ thriller and doesn't feature any grand ideas). Space archeology is intriguing subject indeed, but unfortunately the scheme works less and less with each subsequent book. McDevitt has an increasing tendency to bury the main plot (i.e. archeology, Chindi exploration, or omegas themselves) under some rather mundane adventures and constant attempts to rescue one or another character from various (but not terribly creative) dangers, mostly self-induced, which after a while gets incredibly tiresome. This, to a lesser extent, was also the problem of _The Engines of God_,

but that book still had great sense of wonder. However, the fundamental problem of the book is that these ordeals constitute the major part of it, with so little space given to the mystery of the omega clouds, that the solution to it feels almost as an afterthought (and, frankly, quite tedious one - but no spoilers here). Also, I have to say that, within the context of this solution to the origin of the omegas, some of the events of the two previous books just make no sense to me.
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