Archive for February 4th, 2013

Measures of redemption and enlightenment await characters in Jack McDevitt’s ‘Odyssey’

February 4, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 4, 2013

Jack McDevitt’s 2006 novel, Odyssey, opens as humanity has reached a precarious point. Early in the year 2235, interest in space exploration is fading just as concern about runaway global warming is ramping up. To make matters worse, the Academy loses a starship while political factions ready their push to cut money from the North American Union’s government-funded astronautics organization.

The person at the heart of this mess is one Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins, the former starship captain extraordinaire who has traded her commission for matrimony, motherhood and a powerful job as the Academy’s operations director. She takes point on the effort to locate and recover the missing ship even as the Academy’s commissioner enrolls her in public-relations outreach to influential NAU Sen. Hiram Taylor and his 15-year-old daughter, Amy.

Hutch easily wins the affection of the space-happy Amy Taylor, but the search and rescue operation is a bit more problematic. So is the appearance of an immense previously undetected asteroid, which barely misses smashing into Earth but does leave more egg on the Academy’s face.

But, although it takes a frustratingly long time to develop, there are more things aspace in Odyssey than political maneuvering. A private company, Orion Tours, has reported another in a series of increasingly common sightings of UFOs. These so-called moonriders are presumably the work of an intelligent species, which humans have yet to find in exploring numerous star systems near Earth.

Orion and the Academy agree to deploy automatic monitors in the star systems where the mysterious flyers have been seen. And this is where things start to get going.

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