Omega Mass Market Paperback – Oct 26 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Having mastered the big, sprawling adventure stories called space opera in books like Chindi, McDevitt extends the form in this feel-good SF novel that earns its hopeful conclusion. Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchens, heroine of several of McDevitt's previous novels, has had a full career as a space pilot and is now administrator of the government agency in charge of space research. Like most people, she's only mildly concerned with the long-range threat of the omega clouds, masses of energy floating through the universe that detect and pulverize artificial structures (and the intelligent creatures that live in them). After all, the cloud headed for Earth is 900 years away. This situation changes when a charmingly innocent young alien race is discovered just a few months before a cloud will obliterate it. Hutch has to juggle resources to save the cute creatures, at the same concealing the human intervention in order not to disrupt the alien civilization's development. The cloud's implacable threat keeps the action tightly focused, though the story shifts viewpoint frequently to show crowds of people committing themselves to different aspects of the mission. Part of the rescue effort involves spaceships and gadgets, but the most serious part depends on human intelligence and passion. McDevitt is very good at imagining strange challenges-and at picturing humans coping when things don't work out as planned. His characters succeed in imposing their compassion on the void.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The trilogy McDevitt began with The Engines of God (1994) and continued in Chindi [BKL Jl 02] concludes in a decisive confrontation with the omega clouds. Semisentient, coherent energy fronts, the clouds obliterate every civilization in their path, and one of them is projected to reach Earth in 900 years. It is much closer to destroying the Korbikkan civilization of humanoid sentients, one of just three other sentient races known to humanity. Can humanity afford to deploy the resources of scientific talent and weapons needed to save another race without putting its own existence at risk? Can a human rescue team save a whole world without letting the inhabitants know they are being saved? As before, McDevitt forges out of ethical dilemmas a plot as gripping as any action fan could want--not that it is lacking in action, hardware, and complex characterization. A felicitous concoction that rather recalls Gregory Benford's and David Brin's stuff, and surely will please their fans as well as McDevitt's. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The descriptive prose is minimal. Again you can see the resemblance to Asimov's works. The planetary scenes include several in the countryside of an inhabited world. McDevitt's sparse sketchings of this stand in utter contrast to the baroque lushness of Steve Stirling's rural worlds.
I'm not saying Mcdevitt is on par with heinlein, but the style of writing is very similar. If you are looking for hard SF, with science driven stories, this isnt for you. If you like character and idea driven stories, with a SF background, this is an ideal book, although not as good as some of the earlier in the series (The Engines of God, Deepsix, Chindi...although it really isnt neccessary to have read any of them before this one. While they do follow a sequence, they're stand alone books as well, the older books would just provide more background)
The plot is more or less summarised in the reviews above, so i wont go into that. If you've liked Mcdevitt in the past, you will enjoy this as well. If you havent liked him, well, his writing hasnt changed, and probably wont. I'd reccommend the book to those who havent started in on Mcdevitt yet, but would reccommend starting with The Engines of God first as i feel it's a better starting point that jumping into this one.
By far the worst error is the use of too many characters. It is not that they are not interesting but the abundance of people (and having to follow their small storylines) gets in the way of the "real" story. For example, in this book there are the group at the Academy, her family, three separate ships and the group that has landed on the planet.
Secondly, scientific progress is startling but society and politics seems static for 200 years. The many references to composers and authors of the 18th-20th century is just not realistic. The reproduction of headlines is a really BAD idea -it approaches parody.
But that is not to say this is not an excellent read. The writing is, of course, literate, no obscenities, knowledgable and always interesting. The presentation of Hutch's saga, now with Tor and their daughter, was just the right touch, almost understated in tone. The love story between the explorers was another good point. The Goompahs were too human-like but that is part of our anthropomorphic tendencies. The ending was, like much else, delivered at low key only with a touch of poetry. The tie-in between Tor, Hutch's view on life, the alien's purpose for the Omega and art was a tour de force.
Although the story is set some 230 years in the future, its underlying assumptions are strictly those of the early 2000's. In the same way that much of 1950's SF is unreadable today (and was unreadable then to readers looking for something more from SF than 1950's characters and ideas sloppily glued into a future with rocket ships), Omega is rendered incredibly boring by its having no speculative ideas whatsoever.
The author never tires of having his fictional third-rate intellects tear down paper tiger arguments propounded by fictional fourth-rate intellects. His readers may not all have such patience.
McDevitt gives us bipedal, seeing, speaking, clothes-wearing, city-building aliens who are more human than human beings are. They are physiologically close enough to earth life as to not really seem alien at all. And the physical resemblance is only the tip of the iceberg - McDevitt laboriously pounds home what he clearly considers to be a profound point: the aliens are, at heart, Just Like Us. What then, the reader may ask, is the point of having aliens at all?
The aliens ("Goompahs," so named in the book because of their likeness to the characters in a popular children's show of 2234) will appeal precisely to those readers who regard Barney the dinosaur as a great entertainer.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Some readers don't seem to grok Jack McDevitt, but he remains one of my all-time favorite writers of science fiction - and Omega did not disappoint this fan. Read morePublished on July 13 2006 by Daniel Jolley
I've just finished Omega. It's been a couple of years since I last consumed all his previous works and there are two things that stay consistant in Jack's writing. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2005 by Wood Hughes
Jack McDevitt is one of my favorite writers and that's why I was so dissapointed after I read this book. Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by Victoria
Jack McDevitt's "Omega" is a clever sci-fi story about dark clouds that roam the universe, threatening to wipe out intelligent life in their paths. Read morePublished on June 10 2004 by Craig Wood
Jack McDevitt just doesn't serve you a meal, he offers you a spectacle, a fascination, a characterization with thrills & spills on every page, & always an irresistible... Read morePublished on June 7 2004 by Rebecca Brown
I enjoyed this book, because it's part of the series about the omega clouds, and I've enjoyed the other books, and was looking forward to a good conclusion. Read morePublished on April 29 2004
...but still a very good read.
Maybe I'm just not very bright, as some other reviews might suggest, but I enjoyed McDevitt's story mainly because the "Goompah"... Read more
This was the first McDevitt book I've read, and I was very unimpressed. It was sort of an enjoyable read, but I expected so much more. Read morePublished on March 29 2004
Okay, first off - this was, hands down, the best McDevitt I've read to date. If you've not read McDevitt, and are at all a fan of Science Fiction, you need to go out there and find... Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2004 by Jonathan Burgoine