Latest addition to McDevitt’s longstanding space-adventure series (Odyssey, 2006, etc.).
By the year 2255, interstellar flight is all but dead, with only a few diehards like Prometheus Foundation’s director Rudy Golombek keeping the dream alive. Along comes young physicist Jon Silvestri, insisting that he can make the failed Locarno star drive work. Retired starship pilot and Foundation fundraiser Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins believes him, and persuades Rudy to offer one of his remaining ships to test the drive. The test fails, badly, and spaceflight seems doomed. But then former starship pilot Matt Darwin, now selling real estate in Washington, D.C., has the bright idea of using an old lander now parked on a local school’s lawn. Matt puts together a fundraising campaign (so carefully drawn that it could serve as a blueprint for reviving America’s current, semi-moribund space program) and this time, after some heart-stopping moments, the drive’s a success—indeed, it’s so fast that the center of the galaxy is now only three months’s travel away. Funds now pour in, and Hutch, Jon, Matt, Rudy and science journalist Antonio Giannotti decide to take two ships on a voyage of exploration. Their ports of call: the planet at the heart of a mysterious galaxy-wide surveillance operation; the origin of an equally mysterious message from space recorded by Hutch’s father; a black hole up close and personal; and finally, the source of the hostile and seemingly purposefully directed “omega” clouds that have ravaged the galaxy for thousands of years.
Not peak McDevitt—slow to develop and not especially surprising—but workmanlike and brimming with the author’s trademark low-key charms.