Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jack McDevitt

Currently, I'd have to say that Jack McDevitt is my favorite science fiction author.

I picked up a novel of his about ten years ago and found it an average read. Since then I took a break from reading science fiction and when I delved back into that genre about five years ago one of the authors I started to read again was McDevitt.

He seems to be quite consistent with writing novels these days and it seems he publishes a new one about once a year. Some are not as good as others, some are more perfunctorily written, but then some really stand out for me.

He likes to take a lot of ordinary 20th and 21st society we find today and just place it a few hundred years or even ten thousand years in the future. The characters that inhabit his novels aren't grandiose or too fantastical. In some ways they live a practical, and non-assuming lives that are a little more than ordinary and where they're surrounded by more interesting technology and greater realms of exploration and adventure. This might be the reason that Jack's science fiction is more accessible to adult science fiction readers and that's why I like reading it.

His last few novels have focused on two timelines with two characters that inhabit those times. One, Priscilla Hutchins, who lives only a few hundred years in the future and two, Alex Benedict who lives around ten thousand years in the future when humanity has occupied a greater extent of our galaxy.

I just read one of his latest Priscilla Hutchins novels, "Cauldron" where she journeys to the center of the galaxy. The novel is broken into three parts and the actual final destination only takes a couple of chapters. It's more of a journey than destination novel. Hopefully, I presume that's what most authors try to achieve, although he might foreshorten the focus on the final destination. I found it a good fast read.

Ultimately though, my all-time favorite of his - and Hugo award winner - though is Seeker. That is a novel in the Alex Benedict series timeframe. I'll have to write about why I have read that book more than once a little bit later.