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
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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.
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