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.
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Top Customer Reviews
McDevitt's readers have followed Patricia "Hutch" Hutchinson through some wonderfully exciting adventures (in The Engines of God, Deepsix, and Chindi). In what looks to be the final Hutch novel, the focus shifts considerably. The intrepid hero of past jaunts now finds herself behind a desk, serving as the Director of Operations at the Academy, when word comes in that intelligent life has been discovered on a distant planet. Mankind had come close before, finding two exceedingly primitive alien societies, turning up lost artifacts on a number of worlds left by the mysterious Monument-Makers, and discovering a gigantic ship that served effectively as a museum of past interstellar races. Overshadowing everything was the discovery of omega clouds, wholly mysterious entities roaming the universe and destroying life-bearing planets. One of these omega clouds is headed for Earth, but governments and scientists have put little money into research efforts because the cloud is not due for another 900 years. The newly-discovered inhabitants of the planet unceremoniously dubbed Lookout, however, have a mere nine months before seemingly inevitable destruction.
Hutch coordinates the rushed effort to get people out there to do what they can to save lives.Read more ›
However, I felt this book wasn't quite as strong as the other "Hutch" books that McDevitt has written (Engines of God, Deepsix, Chindi, ...). The problem, as some other reviewers have pointed out, is that there are far too many minor characters to keep track of. You never really get to know any of them, and it really becomes confusing trying to remember who is who, and why you even care what happens to each particular character.
It's hard to really figure out who is the main character in this book. It certainly isn't Hutch, as she spends all of her time in an administrative role back home.
The other main problem is that I felt the book kind of bogged down and got a bit slow towards the middle. The main characters were spending most of their time observing an alien civilization, and there really wasn't much action. They observed minute details about the aliens, such as who was going to marketplaces, who was going to lectures, etc, and it just really wasn't that interesting. When the action finally picks up near the end, everything is very predictable. It's not as good as Deepsix or Chindi where you were really drawn into the struggle of the characters.
The final attempt at an explanation of what the omega clouds purpose is was a little weak. I won't spoil things by giving away any details, but I sure wouldn't mind if McDevitt forgot this ending and wrote another book that offered a better attempt at a final explanation.
McDevitt also kills off minor characters far too easily. I swear in each of his books, theres been some bonehead character who takes a laser cutter to some alien artifact with obvious results.Read more ›
The aliens are basically squat, ugly (but loveable!) critters that live on an Earth-like planet in an Earth-like historical period (middle ages). The author may have made them so human on purpose (to make us identify with them and care about them?), but he didn't have to make them 95% like us. If you want to read well-imagined aliens, I suggest "A Fire Upon the Deep" by Vinge.
<MINOR SPOILERS IN NEXT PARAGRPH:>
This book also suffers from the 'no bad guy' pitfall. The Omega cloud is the only thing to root against, and despite suggestions it is not natural - it still acts very much like a random weather phenomena. The only human 'bad guy' is someone who is driven to an insane (yet boring) rage when he views an Omega cloud destroying some alien structures. That's a pretty weak source of motivation. Why not have that character's wife or kid get killed by a cloud?
Finally, maybe faithful readers of McDevitt enjoyed this, but the constant references to previous McDevitt novels in this storyline got very tiresome. The first couple mentions were fine, but after awhile it felt a lot like propoganda.
Overall, this felt like a very juvenile SF book. There's so much better out there - go elsewhere and only come back to McDevitt when you run out of ideas!
Okay, fan-boy praising hereby endeth.
The story picks up the character of Priscilla Hutchins (who, now married and with a kiddy, plays a much more administrative and planet-bound role) and the storyline of the Omega clouds. Strange clouds that pop up, find anything remotely geometrical (especially, say, buildings), and blast them to bits. They're all over the universe, but why worry, as the one heading towards earth is not due for another, oh, nine hundred years. Yawn.
But one of them being tracked by the Academy makes a right turn, and this time, in McDevitt's nearly lifeless galaxy, seems to be setting its sights on levelling an alien race who are somewhere around the Ancient Greece level of evolution. In about nine months.
The race is on - but to do what? Try to stop the cloud - no one knows how.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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
...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
I was a bit shocked to see such an angry review of this book by an earlier reviewer. I guess some people just dont get mcdveitt. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2004 by JCW
Jack McDevitt's preachy and unimaginative morality tale, Omega, will appeal to fans of writers such as Robert Sawyer who use futuristic SF settings as childish allegories for the... Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2004 by Patrick J. Sullivan
Chindi was the first "Hutch" novel I read and I suppose it's only natural that others are judged against that book. Jack McDevitt writes with the flair of a scientist. Read morePublished on Jan. 11 2004 by Avid Reader