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Seeker Mass Market Paperback – October 31, 2006
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
"'Why read Jack McDevitt?' The question should be: 'Who among us is such a slow pony that s/he isn't reading McDevitt'"? - Harlan Ellison
"Superb storytelling." - Library Journal
"Ideas abound in McDevitt's classy riff on the familiar lost-colony theme. The novel delivers everything it promises with a gigantic wallop." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Perhaps the best pure storyteller working in the field today." - Washington Post Book World
About the Author
Jack McDevitt is a former naval officer, taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. He is a multiple Nebula Award finalist who lives in Georgia with his wife Maureen.
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As these things have a way of doing, history gives way to myth, so it is with great incredulity that antiquarians and auctioneers Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath find themselves in possession of a 9000-year-old cup with Seeker markings on it. They set off to find the Seeker, and if possible the colony they founded. Some people don't believe it really exists. Some people hope to beat them to the discovery. Some people don't like their methods and try to sabotage their efforts. Through it all, plucky Chase and dogged Alex piece together the puzzle and work towards the biggest discovery of all time.
To place a story 10000 years in the future is risky - will we even be recognizable as humans? Will we have developed technology that is, to our eyes, "indistinguishable from magic"? (Arthur C. Clarke's term) McDevitt wisely, I think, keeps the technology subdued, and assumes that basic human nature doesn't change that much (and to emphasize that, his intelligent aliens are also very "human"). We can then settle in and enjoy the story, which is very well written and has a number of genuine edge-of-the-seat moments to keep you coming back for more. It is no wonder that this is an award-winning novel: and as "hard" science fiction combined with mystery-suspense, it recalls the glory days of Isaac Asimov.
The book is not perfect. Some of the suspense is over-simplified; for example, after multiple attempts on their lives, the characters still seem surprised when there's yet another attempt (also, the law of conservation of characters comes into play - when a new character is introduced on p. 300, you know he's an assassin by what he says, but the heroes seem willfully naive). The ending seems a bit drawn-out and artificially positive - I could have done without the last 75 pages or so. (It's still very interesting and well-written, but the plot itself seems contrived). But these are relatively minor, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
My main complaint with this story is that it is very, very similar to a couple of his other books, including scenes that involve an uncomfortable meeting with the only known alien race, realistic but prolonged research phases of the story, scenes that involve narrow escapes from attempts on the main characters' lives, and a similar denger/trap when the last site or artifact is found. Also, I appreciate the fact that McDevitt's stories are built on human characters, and he never goes for the 'deus ex machina' conclusion, but rather his stories are driven by very human characters that read like people you know, or would like to know. However, this time around, McDevitt's far future feels a little TOO much like today, and I felt that way in this book more than many of his others, even though he actually offers an explanation for that similarity (there is an upper limit on the intelligence level that allows people to function well in society, once exceeded by too many members, the society begins to disintegrate).
I read a lot, and I often go several years before returning to an author and getting several of his/her books and reading them consecutively. I read more than half this book before I finally decided that I hadn't read it a couple of years ago. It was that similar to his other books.
I like the characters and the universe he's created, but I really felt that I hadn't read anything new when I finished this book.