Deepsix by Jack McDevitt. Eos Books, 426 pages.
It’s great when you can find an author who can write a really good book. It’s wonderful when you buy a second book from that same author and find it better than the first one. I’m hooked on Jack McDevitt.
Jack McDevitt writes hard science fiction. But this book is also space opera. And it’s also a great adventure story. Asimov wrote hard science fiction, but a lot of his stories weren’t written to entertain, merely to challenge. McDevitt’s stories include plot twists, story climaxes and character development that keeps you hooked even if you can’t keep up with the science.
Here’s the gist of the story. If you read my review on The Engines of God by McDevitt, this basically takes off right after that story, which is ironic, because I believe he wrote this story first. In any case, a rogue planet is scheduled to collide with another one called Maleiva III (also known as Deepsix) in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, a local spaceship that doesn’t have a landing craft reports seeing ruins of buildings on the planet below. The Academy of Science and Technology decides to send Hutch, the hero of The Engines of God to go down to the planet and take pictures and salvage whatever artifacts they can and then get out before the disaster happens. Of course, the media hears about it, and a reporter and a famous author decide to go down to the planet’s surface for an interview as well. An earthquake happens and both parties get stranded.
That’s the problem. The rest of the story is coming up with a solution to rescue as many of the survivors as possible as the monstrous rogue planet comes closer and closer to destruction.
McDevitt has the characters come up with a logical solution, then when that doesn’t work, try something else, and in the end they rely on luck, ingenuity and courage they didn’t know they had to survive. Some of the science may bog the reader down a bit, and I found myself skimming the technicalities at a point or two. But at its heart, this is a died-in-the-wool adventure story that will appeal to pretty much everybody.
I give it five out of five stars.
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