Eternity Road

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 1, 1998

Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt

Ten people attended this meeting, including two first-time visitors to the Reading Group. One regular member e-mailed in her comments since she couldn’t get away from work. The book under discussion, Eternity Road, is set 1000 years in Earth’s future after our civilization has fallen. The story follows a group of people attempting to rediscover the lost science, culture, and literature of their past — and our present. They wander across North America from the banks of the Mississippi to Canada on their quest.

Seven of the group had finished the novel, and most had read McDevitt before (two of his books had been discussed previously in the Reading Group). We found the prose easy to read without being simplistic. The observations on our present culture are interesting and amusing, and also painful at times. Ideals are discussed without becoming preachy. We liked how our travelers encountered various partially-functioning equipment from our time, although the way one character outwitted an AI robot reminded us of Captain Kirk. We appreciated the unique way civilization falls in this book; for once, it’s not due to nuclear war. As with the rest of McDevitt’s novels, this book doesn’t have a villain — just people with lots of problems to solve and mysteries to uncover.

We had a few minor criticisms. One person was tired of the post-apocalyptic genre and didn’t feel any more books needed to be written in this tradition. Another complained that the fall of civilization and loss of knowledge, as described in this book, are unbelievable. Another felt that the English language should have drifted into local dialects over time, although he agreed that dealing with this problem would have been awkward in the book. Some of us would have liked to see a map that showed the progress of the travelers.

We liked Eternity Road a lot, and we would recommend it highly to others.

— A. T. Campbell, III