Friday, June 26, 2015

Coming Home, by Jack McDevitt

Coming Home is the seventh novel in the Alex Benedict series, and next up in my reading of the Nebula nominees for this year.  I'm struggling with whether to damn this novel with faint praise or be a bit more direct.  I'll let you be the judge from here.

Alex Benedict is an antiquities dealer nine thousand years in the future.  His Boswell (hence narrator of these stories) is Chase Kolpath, ace pilot and beautiful assistant.  This installment has two story lines--Benedict's tracking of lost artifacts from the early space age, and the rescue of his uncle Gabe from a ship caught in a spacetime warp.

McDevitt is a solid speculator--we have some history on civilization's collapse, and a recap of encounters with the alien Mutes.  But it still rings odd to have people basically not changing traditions over ten thousand years, and using technologies that aren't even current now.

My main issue here is that this work is just dry as dust.  McDevitt always has that tendency, but sometimes the stories are fun anyway.  This was more of a slog.  Everyone is perfectly reasonable and speaks in the careful way office workers at major corporations speak.  You can't tell men from women, good guys from bad ones.  Makes it awfully hard to build dramatic tension, and this one doesn't.  I'm going to have forgotten all about it in a week or so.  The book is worthwhile if you are a fan of the series as it does advance the story.  Not otherwise.  Two stars from me.

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