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ODYSSEY by Jack McDevitt

ODYSSEY

By Jack McDevitt

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-441-01433-X
Publisher: Ace/Berkley

Another adventure set in the same universe as Chindi (2002).

With no intelligent, technologically advanced aliens yet discovered, and an Earth possibly dying from global warming and ecological chaos, interstellar travel is slowly withering, with only a handful of haulage companies and Orion Tours regularly plying the space lanes. Opinionated journalist (but with informed, witty opinions) Gregory MacAllister vocally supports the Earth-first faction. However, a sudden spate of UFO sightings—“moonriders”—persuades politically appointed Academy bigwig Michael Asquith to send a vessel, Salvator, to investigate, although ops chief Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins isn’t convinced. So pilot Valya Kouros, a skeptical MacAllister, PR flack Eric Samuels and 15-year-old Amy Taylor, daughter of a powerful politico, depart to swing by the moonrider hotspots—including super-expensive supercollider project Origins—to drop off some monitors and investigate. All goes according to plan until, astonishingly, one of the monitors captures two globe-shaped moonriders rendezvousing with a wandering asteroid and changing its course. The ship’s AI, Bill, predicts the redirected rock will smack into planet Terranova, devastating its developed but non-intelligent life forms. It then emerges that a half-constructed orbiting hotel is about to be pulverized by a huge asteroid. Salvator will assist with evacuating the hotel, dropping off Amy, MacAllister and Samuels at an orbiting spaceship museum. That night, Amy receives a visit from a being that resembles a too-tall Hutch, warning that the moonriders intend to destroy Origins, and soon. Surely Amy was dreaming—except that MacAllister discovers there’s a minuscule chance that Origins could destroy the entire universe.

A low-key, reasonably surprising and involving tale, although not among McDevitt’s best.