Reviewed by Matthew Appleton
This review originally appeared in the August 2000 issue (#144) of The New York Review of Science Fiction.
“For intelligence and clarity, Jack McDevitt is the natural heir to Isaac Asimov.” After reading a few of McDevitt’s novels, it’s not hard to see why this quote from Michael Swanwick has appeared on the cover of a couple of McDevitt’s other works. With an incredibly clear and unobtrusive (almost to the point of simplistic) style, McDevitt seems to want to relate his story to the reader as transparently as possible, as if he doesn’t want you to notice the writing at all, just the story itself. But the similarity between McDevitt and Asimov is much more than stylistic. Like Asimov, McDevitt’s strength lies in the story itself, with the characterization taking a back seat to the plot and subplots. This is not to say that McDevitt cannot give us quality characters. Rather, it is the events and their unfolding that draws our attention. As a result, novels such as Engines of God, Ancient Shores, and Eternity Road end up as incredible page turners that completely absorb you until the last page.