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Ancient Shores [Hardcover]

Jack McDevitt
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 22 1996
Discovering a ten-thousand-year-old sea ship buried on his North Dakota farm, Tom Lasker uncovers a portal to another world and captures the attention of many others, including the Sioux nation, which believes that the portal leads to Eden.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Something very strange has turned up in Tom Lasker's wheat field: a ten-thousand-year-old sailboat made of an unknown substance. And then there's the Roundhouse, apparently a doorway to another world, sitting squarely on Sioux reservation land. How did they get there, and what do they signify for the people embroiled in their discovery? This is sci-fi on a grand scale by the author of The Engines of God.

From Publishers Weekly

Early in the next century, outside a North Dakota town, farmer Tom Lasker digs up a boat on his land. Not only is the vessel crafted from an unknown element, but Lasker's farm is on land that has been dry for 10,000 years. A search for further artifacts unearths a building of the same material and age that turns out to be an interdimensional transportation device. The building sits on land owned by the Sioux, who want to use it to regain their old way of life on another world; meanwhile, the U.S. government, fearful of change, wants to destroy the building. Right up to the climax, McDevitt (Engines of God) tells his complex and suspenseful story with meticulous attention to detail, deft characterizations and graceful prose. That climax, though, is another matter, featuring out-of-the-blue heroic intervention in a conflict between the feds and the Indians by, among others, astronaut Walter Schirra, cosmologist Stephen Hawking and SF writers Ursula K. LeGuin, Carl Sagan and Gregory Benford. "If the government wants to kill anyone else, it'll have to start with us," announces Stephen Jay Gould. That absurdity aside, this is the big-vision, large-scale novel McDevitt's readers have been waiting for.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, but the details disappoint April 29 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I wanted to like this book. Like other reviewers pointed out, the first few chapters were compelling enough to keep me reading. Then the story started spinning out of control.
Neither the characters nor the governments depicted by the author behaved in a believable manner. The book offered many possible threads towards the end, only to leave them dangling. The characters seemed to be going along for the ride throughout the book, not really shaping events, but rather always at the mercy of them. They offered little more than a long string of disappointments to this reader.
One would hope that mankind would respond with a little more maturity if such events ever took place.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Strong Start but Saggy Middle March 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first couple of chapters of McDivitt's book are among the stongest I've ever read. He maintains almost that level of wonder and excitment for a few more chapters, but soon the level drops off. I was having a hard time keeping going by the middle.
Near the sixty percent point, we get to the following: The male protagnoist, who has of course already fallen in love with the female scientist protagnoist, discovers she has disappeared. He figures out it was a fantastically advanced piece of alien technology they'd discovered that had malfunctioned. She ended up on a planet thousands of light years from Earth. Using some electrical cable, connectors and a gasoline-powered generator he buys at a hardware store, he repairs it and saves her.
If you buy that such advanced technology would use such mundane hardware you'll probably like the climax involving nothing more original than the government trying to take Sioux land. It was all too much for me. I think so much more could have been done with the original scenario. It was a missed opportunity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simple but Compelling Jan. 11 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of those novels that seemed to have been written in a single burst of creative energy. It is much simpler than his later novels (particularly the "Hutch" series) but in its way it is also much better. The writing seems more focused, the characters seem more "real" and the scientific explanations are as compelling and literate as ever.
McDevitt's specialty is first contact and that is what this is all about. In a way, it's a lot like the fulfillment of the fantasies of any sci-fi enthusiast - run across an ancient, buried object that happened to have strange powers. Great story and great ending...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! July 27 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My only disappointment is that there is no sequel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! April 10 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The discovery of what appears to be a sailboat, buried for no apparent reason in North Dakota. Upon further inspection, we find out that the sailboat is more than 10,000 years old though it still looks brand new. Additionally, it is made from materials that will virtually never wear out. Max Collingwood with the aid of April Cannon (a scientist) tries to determine from where the boat originated. This leads to the discovery of a portal to other worlds.
This book raises interesting questions regarding technology. Each time there is an advance, invariably there is an industry producing old technology that will be affected economically. In this book, ancient relics are unearthed that have technology that is light years ahead of what currently exists; creating panic in several industries including transportation, clothing and tires. Now the question. Do we use the technology for all its benefits or do we destroy all evidence of the technology to preserve our existing economy and industries? I would vote for the former rather than the latter because the latter is a selfish attitude with very short-term thinking.
Mankind must always make sacrifices in order to advance. The author brilliantly illustrates that notion here in a book that you will zip through rather fast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining! March 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a true page-turner. I simply couldn't put it down.
It is a "true McDevitt" book. Very entertaining, and a very original storyline. Like other McDevitt books I read, one wonders how realistic the story is. I am not talking about the SciFi part, but about how the story integrates with things and organizations such as the government. Many things just don't seem right.
But to be honest: I do not care! The story is entertaining, and that's why I like it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You won't be able to put it down... Jan. 2 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a true page turner in Jack McDevitt's typical style. Just when you thing "two more pages and I will stop reading at the end of the chapter...", something happens that keeps you from keeping the book down.
Just like other McDevitt stories I read however, it again is not truely believable. Of course, this is a science fiction novel, and those tend to be less believable, but I actually am talking more about the details. All the scientists in McDevitt's books always seem to practice what I would call "cowboy science".
However, if you can overlook that for a great story, you will have a lot of fun with this one...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book Dec 4 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book blows my mind. I just wish there was a sequel.
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