Infinity Beach Mass Market Paperback – Jan 11 2001
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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 the Hardcover edition.
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 the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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!!
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
"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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on Feb. 23 2003 by A. Chisholm
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 morePublished on July 9 2002 by Pablo Iglesias Alvarez
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 morePublished on June 6 2002 by kallan
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 morePublished on March 3 2002 by D. Austin
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 morePublished on Sept. 28 2001 by JLM
Infinity beach started great, but by the middle of the book it has transformed itself from greatness to below mediocre. Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2001 by Justin LeCheminant
Sometime in the future... Earth's population spread out to nine planets, thanks to faster-than-light starships. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2001 by Pascal Thiel
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 morePublished on July 5 2001 by Bill Mac