Discussion:
Recently read: A Voice in the Night by Jack McDevitt
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Default User
2019-10-24 05:22:20 UTC
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This is a set of short stories by McDevitt, best known for the Alex
Benedict/Chase Kolpath mystery-oriented books and the Priscilla
Hutchins Academy books.

Many of the usual themes familiar to readers of those are present.
Everyday AIs, including recreations of dead people from their writings
and other data. Space programs imperiled by politicians. There are some
alternate-history stories.

One thing I don't think many would complain about his stories is the
treatment of female characters. Lots of them and strong ones. I think
almost every pilot of a space-going vehicle is a woman in these stories.


Introduction: Jack McDevitt, History Builder, by Martin L. Shoemaker

Usual blah blah.


Searching for Oz

An alt-hist tale where SETI is successful and early, and the results
aren't satisfying as the searchers might have wanted.


The Law of Gravity Isn’t Working on Rainbow Bridge

Strange time and space bubble affects the area around Niagara Falls,
written in "breaking news" fashion.


The Adventure of the Southsea Trunk

A murder mystery set in an alt-hist background where the Sherlock
Holmes stories are popular, but only recently published.


Combinations

One of a common McDevitt trope, developing an AI recreation of a
historical person. In this case, a Bobby Fischer-like chess genius.


It’s a Long Way to Alpha Centauri

A bored man is looking for a real getaway vacation. He finds a travel
agency with trips available that are more exotic than he had imagined.


Lucy

Another common McDevitt theme is foolish politicos cutting back on
space exploration. In this story, what could be a final mission has an
AI-piloted ship on a trip out to the Oort Cloud. Then it stops
responding. They decide to send out another ship to see what happened
and try to effect rescue if possible. What this AI-ship finds isn't
what she or anyone else expected.


Listen Up, Nitwits

The world has continued to worsen, terrorism continues, and now China
and the US are squaring off. Then Earth starts receiving messages in
many languages from a source out by Jupiter. The gist, "Hey idiots,
quit trying to kill yourselves." Who is it? Aliens? God? Whatever, it
doesn't want to be talking to a thousand people, so it requests a
single representative. When the nations can't agree (surprise) it
chooses - a SETI researcher. Initially the US wants to feed him
questions, but when that doesn't work he goes on his own and gets
surprising information from the entity.


Midnight Clear

Earth has a long-term mission to study a long-departed alien
civilization on Capella III, with researchers and their families living
among the ruins. One 11-YO girl wants to put her own stamp on the
Christmas celebration.


The Lost Equation

In this alt-hist, Holmes and Watson are real, although a bit elderly by
this point. They get an intriguing mystery to investigate. In the
papers of a recently-deceased scientist there is evidence that he
derived E=MC^2 before Einstein. Is this real, if so why did he not
publish, and was his death by natural causes as originally thought?


Blood Will Tell, Co-written with Tom Easton

An "idea" man at a biotech lab gets a visit from his future self, who
has a simple request - a bit of his plasma. Could this change history?


Blinker

The director of an observatory on the Moon is finishing up his stint
and handing it over to his replacement. The human presence in the
mission has been declining, becoming more automated. After a ground
tremor, the two decide to check out the telescope installation, which
is unoccupied these days. Another tremor turns this into ingenuity
self-rescue deal.


Friends in High Places

What if things went a bit differently following the Last Supper?


Maiden Voyage

The early days of Priscilla Hutchins, starship pilot. She's on her
final qualification flight, nominally the captain but with a senior
pilot to observe and test. They are transporting researchers to a
system that is the home to one of the constructs of the long-departed
Monument Makers. The pilots make a discovery of their own and have to
decide what to do about it.


Waiting at the Altar

The second leg of Hutch's qualification flight. A test engineered by
her checkout pilot has them drop into normal space while she handles
it. Unexpectedly, they receive a radio distress call. It's too degraded
to understand, but they can figure out the source. Likely whoever sent
this is long dead. Should they go investigate? Wouldn't be much of a
story if just they called it in and went on their way.


The Play’s the Thing

Another AI recreation story, obviously The Bard in this case. During a
visit to a high school class, "Will" promises to write a new,
contemporary, play for them. The creator assures everyone that this
isn't possible. Is it?


Oculus

An Academy story, not featuring Priscilla Hutchins. An abandoned alien
location reveals a library of books. They are very old, too fragile to
open, but a facility in orbit might be able to scan the pages. All
that's needed is to move the books from the surface to the facility.
When electrical trouble imperils the shuttle, the pilot wants to dump
the cargo. The scientist has other ideas. A real case of putting all
your eggs in one basket.


Good Intentions, with Stanley Schmidt

A group meets once a year where they participate in a crafted
futuristic mystery weekend. This time it's an archeological dig on
Mars. One of the participants seems more emotionally invested in the
proceedings that might be expected.


Molly’s Kids

An AI ship is scheduled to travel to Alpha Centauri. Congress is about
to shut down the mission, so they need to launch now. Unfortunately,
the AI says he doesn't want to go.


Ships in the Night

A solitary hardware store owner in a small town in North Dakota
frequently jogs through the wooded area that shields the town from the
winds. One day the wind seems to talk to him. Is it real? And what does
it want?


The Pegasus Project

Humans have traveled to many places in the galaxy. Not only have they
not found any other intelligent life, no life at all. Then a radio
transmission is received. Old, seven thousand years old if the location
is right, but of obvious artificial origin. A researcher and her pilot
go to investigate. To their surprise, then find a ship. What is its
story?


The Last Dance

A grieving widower receives the result of a new service, an
AI/holographic recreation of his wife. How will that work out, for both
of them?


Cathedral

The apex of the space program is a research station in the L2 point.
The two there now will be the last, funding is being pulled. A shuttle,
piloted by one guy's ex, is coming to bring them back home. She is a
manager, who got in trouble for complaining too much to the news, so
her punishment is to be the one to shut it down. She says the problem
with the program is that they don't have a cathedral, a long-term
project that people will spend generations to make happen. On her way
there, a small asteroid makes close approach to the Moon, and is headed
towards Earth. It looks it will miss. Probably.


Weighing In

Humans have discovered a wormhole that they suspect will lead to
another universe. Many probes have been sent in, none returned. A
scientist wants to go in. Reluctant approval is granted, due to his
connections, but his companions try to talk him out of it. He's
adamant. What if he doesn't return either?


A Voice in the Night

Young Alex Benedict is living with his archeologist uncle Gabe. Alex
becomes a fan of an radio personality who liked to jaunt about in a
space yacht, until an engine breakdown doomed him. Alex figures that a
guy like that would have sent a last radio message, right? Maybe they
can figure out where it would be in space and intercept it. Gabe thinks
it a long shot, but wants to encourage Alex. Alex makes the
calculations and they head out. The pilot is Chase Kolpath's mother
Tori. What will they find?


Brian
D B Davis
2019-10-27 15:15:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Default User
This is a set of short stories by McDevitt, best known for the Alex
Benedict/Chase Kolpath mystery-oriented books and the Priscilla
Hutchins Academy books.
Many of the usual themes familiar to readers of those are present.
Everyday AIs, including recreations of dead people from their writings
and other data. Space programs imperiled by politicians. There are some
alternate-history stories.
One thing I don't think many would complain about his stories is the
treatment of female characters. Lots of them and strong ones. I think
almost every pilot of a space-going vehicle is a woman in these stories.
<snip>
Post by Default User
The Adventure of the Southsea Trunk
A murder mystery set in an alt-hist background where the Sherlock
Holmes stories are popular, but only recently published.
The titular trunk reminds me of "The Man Who Traveled in Elephants"
(RAH). The Southsea leads me to believe its more sea tale than
pachydermal prehensile proboscis parable.



Thank you,
--
Don.......My cat's )\._.,--....,'``.
telltale tall tail /, _.. \ _\ (`._ ,.
tells tall tales.. `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
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