Seeker Mass Market Paperback – Oct 31 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Ideas abound in McDevitt's classy riff on the familiar lost-space-colony theme. In 2688, interstellar transports Seeker and Bremerhaven left a theocratic Orwellian Earth to found a dictator-free society, Margolia—and vanished. Nine thousand years later, with a flawed humanity spread over 100-odd worlds, Margolia and its ships have become Atlantis-type myths, but after a cup from Seeker falls into the hands of antiquarian Alex Benedict, the hero of McDevitt's Polaris (2004), Alex determines to win everlasting fame and vaster fortune by finding them. Female pilot Chase Kolpath, this book's narrator, gutsily tracks the ancient Seeker on a breathless trek across star systems and through an intriguing mystery plot, a bevy of fully realized characters, ingenious AI ships and avatars of long-departed personalities who offer advice and entertainment. The scientific interpolations are as convincing as the far-future planetscapes and human and alien societies, bolstering an irresistible tractor beam of heavy-duty action. This novel delivers everything it promises—with a galactic wallop.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
McDevitt's latest gripping novel of future history begins in the late twentieth century, when a technological breakthrough costs the lives of its discoverers. Then it jumps seven centuries forward, to the beginning of interstellar flight and some of the first refugees from Earth. Finally, it moves into the very far future and to the seeker of the title, one of several looking for inhabited worlds that are the results, however longterm, of events recorded earlier. McDevitt is now being compared, quite legitimately, to Arthur C. Clarke, and not only because he has a similar kind of grand vision of the human future among the stars. He also has characters with amiable, or not-so-amiable, quirks, who in the middle of deciphering the secrets of lost races take time to worry about where to get a good meal in the next town. One of these days McDevitt is going to receive an actual and well-deserved big award to go with his professional stature. 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
There isn't really much of a story either. The pace is painfully slow throughout most of the book. The characters are annoyingly naive, if not plain dim-witted. The only time you feel you are about to read something unexpected is at the very end, where the author has managed to put together a half-plausible mystery. Otherwise, the book is laden with inconsistencies and downright embarrassments, like telepathic aliens natively reading human thoughts.
Overall, if you are a serious sci-fan fan, who likes to have their facts straight, save yourself some time and buy something else.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One thing I appreciate about his writing in this novel (and its predecessor) is his use sometimes of fairly realistic first-person narrative, by a woman character. Male authors often don't get their female characters quite right (my wife made me especially aware of this).
McDevitt has carved out a sort of unique niche for himself, with this and some (not all) of his other novels, perhaps you might call it "future archaeology"?
For the most satisfying experience, before reading this novel you should read the two earlier, equally good novels, that take place in the same world, with the same main characters (Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath): "A Talent For War" (don't be put off by the awful title) and "Polaris".
And for "A Talent For War", you can get it by itself, or you can also get it in a book called "Hello Out There", that combines it with a rewritten earlier novel of his ("The Hercules Text").
McDevitt's other, equally good series, of "future archaeology" novels, features a different world and different main character (Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchinson". That series starts with "The Engines of God" and continues through "DeepSix", "Chindi", and "Omega".
My main complaint with this story is that it is very, very similar to a couple of his other books, including scenes that involve an uncomfortable meeting with the only known alien race, realistic but prolonged research phases of the story, scenes that involve narrow escapes from attempts on the main characters' lives, and a similar denger/trap when the last site or artifact is found. Also, I appreciate the fact that McDevitt's stories are built on human characters, and he never goes for the 'deus ex machina' conclusion, but rather his stories are driven by very human characters that read like people you know, or would like to know. However, this time around, McDevitt's far future feels a little TOO much like today, and I felt that way in this book more than many of his others, even though he actually offers an explanation for that similarity (there is an upper limit on the intelligence level that allows people to function well in society, once exceeded by too many members, the society begins to disintegrate).
I read a lot, and I often go several years before returning to an author and getting several of his/her books and reading them consecutively. I read more than half this book before I finally decided that I hadn't read it a couple of years ago. It was that similar to his other books.
I like the characters and the universe he's created, but I really felt that I hadn't read anything new when I finished this book.
This story gives us more background on how humans left Earth in the 3rd and 4th millenia. Here, for instance, we find that English was no longer spoken after the 3rd millenium. And that the colonisation of nearby star systems took centuries. With early efforts marked by failure. It also places the stories some six thousand years in the future. Whereas the earlier books were somewhat unclear about when they were set, relative to our time.
The plot follows McDevitt's usual quiet pace. Too quite for some readers. But he has attracted a decent readership with his other books, who will not be disappointed here. The ideas here are fairly ingenious. He has put some thought into the scenario of a lost colony. Of how it got lost and how it survived.
Perhaps a disappointment, and which is constant in this series, is how few advances in longevity have occurred. No diseases are mentioned to afflict people. But the average life span is discernibly little improved over ours. People are considered middle aged at 60 and elderly at 90.
McDevitt is more of an idea-guy than a writer: his characters are flat and his descriptions employ so little sensory information that he manages to make scenes like an apartment break-in by a vengeful man and a fight for survival outside of a spaceship seem boring.
BUT -- his ideas such as a journey among a telepathic alien species among whom lying is unknown, and (especially) what happened to the lost colonists of the Bremerhaven and the Seeker) are absolutely breathtaking.
Reading Seeker was sometimes a slog, but I was entertained and glad I'd read it in the end. Longer review at ImpatientReader-dot-com.
The chapters that follow Chase through Mute territory and back to Earth make this book into a great adventure spanning most of this universe's galaxy, but (thankfully) don't drag into onerous side plots. While the major conflict strains credibility slightly (although much less than in other books), the ending is absolutely epic in proportion - beautifully crafted and wildly imaginative - far moreso than any of McDevitt's other works. You know it's coming but that doesn't make it any less fantastic.
This book is well worth the read for the world created in the Epilogue alone, but a great space mystery/adventure at the same time. The little tidbits thrown in almost in passing that allude to Kolpath's personal life are a nice polishing touch that makes the book flow much smoother as well.