Ancient Shores

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 19, 1997

Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt

Attendees: A. T. Campbell, III; Fred Duarte, Jr.; Cyndi Dunn; Wes Dunn; Emily Gamboa; Mona Gamboa; Ruben Gamboa; Jeff Rupley; Willie Siros; Lori Wolf.

A large group gathered at Adventures in Crime and Space to discuss Ancient Shores, a near-future novel involving the discovery of alien artifacts on a North Dakota farm, and the implications of this discovery on the discovers and the rest of the world. All of us over one year old had finished the book. Initial comments varied from “first draft, no heart” to “boring” to “liked everything except the ending” to “loved it.”

This book had a lot of elements we liked. The archaelogical theme was interesting, and there was a good sense of the thrill of discovery. The exploration of the impact of this discovery on the rest of the world was a fascinating and seldom-used approach. McDevitt presented carefully thought-out speculations of the effect on economics, politics, and organized religions. He also showed how people from all walks of life reacted to this evidence of extraterrestrial life.

This book felt like it could have used more editing. Plot threads were introduced and dropped, many descriptive passages were too long, and characterization was weak. The book’s dramatic conclusion elicited a strong division of opinions. Some folks felt the ending was the whole point of the story, while others felt that the author “ran out of pages.”

Overall we liked what McDevitt was trying to do with this story. and we enjoyed discussing it. Thanks to Willie for keeping his store open late!

— A. T. Campbell, III