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Infinity Beach [Mass Market Paperback]

J McDevitt
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 18 2001
We are alone. That is the verdict, after centuries of Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence missions and space exploration. The only living things in the Universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled from Earth, and the starships that knit them together. Or so it's believed, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine sets out to find what happened to her clone-sister Emily, who, after the final, unsuccessful manned SETI expedition, disappeared along with the rest of her ship's crew.

Following a few ominous clues, Kim discovers the ship's log was faked. Something happened out there in the darkness between the stars, and she's prepared to go to any length to find answers. Even if it means giving up her career...stealing a starship...losing her lover. Kim is about to discover the truth about her sister -- and about more than she ever dared imagine.


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From Amazon

What happens when first contact goes horribly wrong? When that initial meeting between two sentient species leads to utter confusion and misunderstanding, murder and hijacking, and a tight-lipped coverup for years afterward? Jack McDevitt sets this situation up in Infinity Beach, describing humanity at the end of the third millennium as a solitary race, seemingly alone in the cosmos even after colonizing many worlds beyond Earth: "The universe has come to resemble a magnificent but sterile wilderness, an ocean which boasts no friendly coast, no sails, no sign that any have passed this way before." But a ship in search of life returned years earlier under suspicious circumstances, with two crew members missing, one presumed dead in an unexplained explosion, and the fourth retired into silence. Tales of apparitions, strange lights, and voices near the explosion site persist. No one's talking, but the scientist sister (and clone) of one of the missing shipmates starts asking questions and finds herself at the heart of a complex and frightening puzzle.

McDevitt, an accomplished storyteller and perennial Nebula runner-up, proves to have an excellent ear for such drama, telling a solid story that exudes mood and atmosphere while still staying tense enough to keep those pages turning. By turns a murder mystery, ghost story, and solid sci-fi thriller, Infinity Beach takes one of the genre's more prosaic schticks--first contact--and gives it a twist with style and skill: when you do make contact, what you find might scare you. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HA thousand years in the future, on the terraformed planet Greenaway, humanity has everything to make itself comfortable and complacent--longevity, leisure and luxury are all readily available. But one question remains: Is humanity alone in the universe? Kimberly Brandywine doesn't necessarily believe in aliens, until she hears that her missing elder "sister," of whom she's a clone, may have been murdered, along with some crewmates, by celestial beings after a voyage aboard a space yacht. Her sister/clone's disappearance has long haunted Kim, whose search for the truth takes her underwater and into space, loses her a lover and causes her to commit crimes (including stealing a spaceship). Kim's efforts to solve the mystery of the vanishing and to make first contact with the aliens presumably behind it are hampered by the general malaise society has sunk into. And since death appears to follow in the wake of the aliens, Kim wavers about whether first contact will be beneficial or will destroy civilization as she knows it. McDevitt (Eternity Road) has created a future that is technologically sound and filled with hubristic, foolish people who make choices based more on how they will look to history than on what's best for it. Though his aliens are insubstantial (both physically and on the page), the mystery of what happened to Kim's sister and her fellow celestial seekers unfolds as precisely as an origami flower, and will hold readers in thrall. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Siren Call of the Unknown Feb. 22 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
McDevitt, as is his habit, has written one of his best stories yet about First Contact, an area in which he excels and not for the usual reasons. There are few face to face confrontations, no big battle scenes or cases of alien-human love stories. No, these are tales of scientists and explorers trying to come to grips with perhaps the most important question yet - are we alone? And once that's answered the next question arises - Where do we go from here?

Like his other books, a strong female is the lead. Kim reminds one a humorous and somewhat naughty "Hutch". But despite the occasional flippancy this is a very serious work, one that moves slowly like the latter organ symphonies of Widor that build upon previous themes all toward a majestic conclusion. BEACHES is, without a doubt, his most philosophical work in both questions asked and answers given. For once, he does not introduce too many minor characters but close to the subject.
The genius of the novel is the way it expands from an almost insignificant event that recalls an unsolved disappearance. The story expands to not only a search for alien life but to a broad examination of human actions. The scene where the sister is recovered is second only to the last glimpse of Solly as he prepares to sacrifice himself for the woman he loves.
The writing is intelligent, almost poetical at times. McDevitt has outdone himself with this almost perfect mystery which uses science fiction only as one element to further the tale. Highly recommended!!
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
__________________________________________
Infinity Beach stands out for its polished, adult prose, and for its
complex, conflicted characters, muddling through life. McDevitt's
writing is clean and mature. The plot is twisty, genre-bending,
romantic, recomplicated. Experienced readers will have seen all of his
plot-elements before, but McDevitt plants enough red herrings to keep
you guessing (me, anyway). This is a world-class novelist writing at the
height of his powers. A Nebula award nominee, and not to be missed.
Infinity Beach features some of the creepiest aliens since, well, "Alien".
At least three times, I felt the hair rise up on the back of my neck.... it's
been awhile since that's happened. I liked this book a lot. A definite
keeper.
"Jack McDevitt is that splendid rarity, a writer who is a
storyteller first and a science fiction writer second... If you've
never read McDevitt before, you couldn't find a better book to
start with than Infinity Beach, a nail-biting neo-Gothic tale that
blends mystery, horror, and a fascinating look at how first contact
with an utterly alien species might happen. I simply couldn't put
it down - I was up until long past midnight and loving every minute
of it. Kim Brandywine is one of McDevitt's most engaging
characters, both real and appealing. Snatch this baby up, all
right? You're going to love it even if you think you don't like
science fiction. You might even want to drop me a thank-you note
for the tip before racing out to your local bookstore to pick up
the Jack McDevitt backlist."
-- Stephen King, at McDevitt's website.
Happy reading!
Pete Tillman
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5.0 out of 5 stars Slow build-up, but a great ending July 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Infinity Beach is a really, really interesting book. McDevitt has successfully melded a mystery, a love story, and some very good social and sci-fi commentary in a way that is both surprising and rewarding.
The first half of the book sets up the mystery. The main character, Kimberly Brandywine, becomes increasingly involved with the 25 year old disappearance of her sister, Emily. Emily had gone on one of the few interstellar missions at that time still looking for first contact. The mission had returned early and unsuccessfully because of engine trouble. Emily ended up missing just a few days later after a still-unexplained explosion ripped the side of a mountain off, decimating the city she was visiting.
There are considerable overtones of possible first contact in this part of the story. But McDevitt lets us chew quite a while on the possibility that life on earth might be unique; a question not often considered in this genre. McDevitt does not stress this question overly much. Instead, he spends significant time inspecting the societal impact on humans in a future where, after considerable effort, no contact has been made with any type of lifeform other than from earth. Every world humans have visited have so far proved completely sterile.
In Infinity Beach, humans have given up on finding other life, at least within their lifespan. The society he describes has slowly relaxed into a world of virtual pleasures and work-free luxury.
The only negative I had with Infinity Beach was that at this point, about mid-book, the story has slowed down quite a bit; if you feel like quitting here, keep going (it will be worth it!)!
The second half of the book builds the suspense as Kim gets closer to answers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Attack of the Killer Kleenex April 22 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First of all, a book that devotes more pages to an aerial pursuit by a spooky black tissue creature than the actual aliens themselves doesn't really qualify as a "first-contact" novel. Secondly, a lot of the skullduggery that the main character indulges in shows that human IQs have really devolved, like putting on a fake moustache, makeup, and a wig in order to pass as a man. That might've worked on Mission Impossible, but I'd like to think people would be a bit more sophisticated a few centuries hence.
The plot moves too slowly, ends too quickly (with barely a glipse and elaboration on the aliens), and brings in far too many ancillary characters. As an SF novel, it is nothing that hasn't been done before elsewhere, and better.
That being said, the author is good at setting a mood of tension and fear, and describes scenes well, and the worlds the book takes place in do have a sense of history about them. However, nice prose can carry a book only so far.
First-contact has been done better elsewhere. Read A Deepness in the Sky instead.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars good yarn but not his best
I've liked every McDevitt book I've read so far including this one. In this case most of the story is enjoyable but every now and then it seems as if the characters are forced to... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2003 by A. Chisholm
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery and Science-Fiction
Many of Jack McDevitt's novels revolve one way or another around mystery, and 'Infinity Beach' probably more than the others plays like a detective story, and a good one this... Read more
Published on July 9 2002 by Pablo Iglesias Alvarez
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading
Jack McDevitt's books are as much mystery as science-fiction, and this time, the mystery is a doozy. Is humanity really alone in the universe? Read more
Published on June 6 2002 by kallan
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Give Up - It Gets Better
Three quarters of the way through this one I was convinced it was destined for a three ("my better than a poke in the eye" category. Read more
Published on March 3 2002 by D. Austin
4.0 out of 5 stars This is what science fiction should be...
I am a big McDevitt fan, and Infinity Beach is no disappointment. McDevitt combines his interest in science, archaeology and humans having to deal with the "we are not... Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2001 by JLM
2.0 out of 5 stars more of a whodunnit, than a sci-fi book
Infinity beach started great, but by the middle of the book it has transformed itself from greatness to below mediocre. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2001 by Justin LeCheminant
5.0 out of 5 stars First class First Contact novel!
Sometime in the future... Earth's population spread out to nine planets, thanks to faster-than-light starships. Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2001 by Pascal Thiel
4.0 out of 5 stars First Contact Mystery
Are we alone in the universe? What would be the consequences for humanity if we believed ourselves to be alone? These are questions McDevitt attempts to answer in Infinity Beach. Read more
Published on July 5 2001 by Bill Mac
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but some holes big enough to hide a starship...
This was the first book I've ever read by Jack McDevitt; I'm glad I read this one and I'd definitely pick up another of his titles. Read more
Published on July 3 2001 by Lawrence J. Hines
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