Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 16, 2007

Seeker by Jack McDevitt

Ten people gathered at A. T.’s home to discuss Seeker, a recent Nebula winner by Jack McDevitt. The book is a far-future tale of archaeologists looking for a lost colony spaceship. All of us had read McDevitt before, which is not surprising since our group had discussed seven of his books previously. Eight of started this book, and all eight finished it.

We enjoyed the classic sf feel of this book. McDevitt’s depiction of future history is interesting, and it is startling how much information gets lost so quickly. The book’s subtext seems to be that history is written by the winners. The task is complicated because our heroes are looking for things that others do not want found.

The mystery elements of the plot are well-handled, and we feel the book plays fair with the reader. The story unfolds in a classic mystery style. McDevitt’s writing style is so smooth and comfortable that he can lay huge clues right in front of us and we miss them.

When our heroes close in on unraveling the secret of the lost ship, the story delves into some fancy physics. At we got to this topic, our group broke into a vigorous discussion of gravity and astrophysics. The deep-space action scenes near the end of the book are exciting and well-handled.

This book is the fourth installment in a loose series that started with A Talent for War. The earlier books featured main character Alex Benedict, while the later ones, including seeker, primarily follow his associate Chase Kolpath. Those of us new to the series had no trouble following and enjoying Seeker, but there were added textures for those who had read the earlier works.

Some of the men in our group did not find Chase to be a convincing female protagonist. Oddly enough, none of the women in our group had a problem with her.

There were some issues. In this book it is stated that the oldest coin on Earth was minted in 2006, which the coin collector in our group found impossible. Another person was dissatisfied with the world building, commenting that the future did not seem different enough from our own world.

Overall we found this book to be a well-written sf adventure in a classic tradition, and we were happy that it got some attention from the awards community. All of us would heartily recommend the book.

After the meeting, several of us had dinner at Opal Divine’s.

— A. T. Campbell, III