Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Review: Ancient Shores

Ancient ShoresAncient Shores by Jack McDevitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book because I really like McDevitt, and also because the digital version of it is available through the local library. Let me tell you, library ebooks are great. It combines all the greatness of not paying for books that libraries represent with the awesomeness of not leaving your house that Kindles offer.

One thing I have remarked about McDevitt's books is that he reworks many of the same plot ideas into different books. I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand it's his right, and if he does it in an interesting way, I guess it's fine. On the other hand, it can trigger another "not another collision of celestial bodies" reaction.

Ancient Shores doesn't feature any such collision, but it revolves around an apparent artifact from a vanished alien civilization. I hadn't realized that "apparent artifact from a vanished alien civilization" was a McDevitt trope, but now I see that it is.

Where the book excels is in imagining the news coverage of this discovery in the not-too-distant future. The "forget science, how is this going to affect my bottom line" attitude is closer to the mark than most of the wide-eyed wonder you see portrayed in sf.

That said, the book is not all cynical -- the heroes, of course, possess much of idealism represented in the book. In fact, I think the ending borders on corny with a weird deus ex machina. Even worse, the ending doesn't resolve many of the questions raised in the first half of the book.

So, parts I enjoyed, but it didn't finish as strongly as most of McDevitt's work.

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