Deepsix (Priscilla

Deepsix (Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins Series #2)

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by Jack McDevitt

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In the year 2204, tragedy and terror forced a scientific team to prematurely evacuate Maleiva III. Nineteen years later, a rogue moon hurtling through space is about to obliterate the last opportunity to study this rare, life-supporting planet. With less than three weeks left before the disaster, superluminal pilot Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins -- the only even

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In the year 2204, tragedy and terror forced a scientific team to prematurely evacuate Maleiva III. Nineteen years later, a rogue moon hurtling through space is about to obliterate the last opportunity to study this rare, life-supporting planet. With less than three weeks left before the disaster, superluminal pilot Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins -- the only even remotely qualified professional within lightyears of the ill-fated planet -- must lead a small scientific team to the surface to glean whatever they can about its lifeforms and lost civilizations before time runs out. But catastrophe awaits when they are stranded on this strange and complex world of puzzles and impossibilities. And now Hutch and her people must somehow survive on a hostile world going rapidly mad -- as the clock ticks toward apocalypse for a doomed enigma now called...

Editorial Reviews

Stephen King
Jack McDevitt is that splendid rarity, a writer who is a storyteller first and a science fiction writer second....I simply could not put it down. You're going to love it even if you think you don't like science fiction.
Orlando Sentinel
A well-crafted, hard-to-put-down story....a fast-moving, intelligent and clever science fiction adventure-mystery that is well worth reading.
A writer capable of haunting beauty and sharp insight...[who] will carry you along by the sheer force of enthusiasm and loaded prose.
Macon Telegraph
One of science fiction's most spine- and mind-tingling authors....Infinity Beach is layered with multiple plots, thrust by a metaphor-filled, nimble-narrative writing style and emboldened with the most humane of ideas, feelings, hopes and fears.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those who like their science hard and their alien adventures bloody will enjoy this latest from Philip K. Dick Award runner-up McDevitt (The Hercules Text). In the 23rd century Deepsix is a planet in deep trouble. In about three weeks a Jovian-sized world will collide with it. Although Deepsix is a treasure trove of life, it has been left unexplored for the last 20 years because hostile animals slaughtered most of the first human landing party. Now, with the discovery of traces of an advanced civilization on the planet, a new expedition hastily sets out to rescue bits and pieces of the culture before they are lost forever. To find the lander that was abandoned two decades earlier, the disgraced commander of the original expedition must make a deadly trek across Deepsix with (among others) two feisty women and a misogynistic celebrity writer who once pilloried the team leader in the press. Goaded by their off-planet superiors, they also have to solve the mystery inherent in the disappearance of Deepsix's civilization. McDevitt puts his characters into predictable jeopardies while methodically solving the conundrum of the missing aliens. Though the rigorous scientific explanations of the techniques used in the rescue are absorbing, the huge, mostly two-dimensional cast slows down the action. Sadly, McDevitt's world building is frequently sketchy and his otherworldly animals too terrestrial, although the sexual Venus's-flytrap segment does have its creative and amusing moments. 3-city author tour. Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Former planetary explorer Priscilla Hutchins receives a directive to make an emergency exploration of the planet Deepsix, a relatively unexplored world due to perish from an imminent collision with a wandering gas giant. When an unexpected earthquake destroys her only means of escape, Hutchins and her crew embark on a strenuous journey across the surface of a dying world in pursuit of an alien technology that just might provide them with their salvation. McDevitt's (Infinity Beach) vivid descriptions of alien landscapes and creatures as well as his harrowing images of a world on the verge of physical collapse heighten the inner turmoil his characters face as they struggle to come to terms with the unfinished business in their lives. With an expert sense of pacing and a knack for cliffhanging suspense, McDevitt has crafted a story of survival and personal redemption that belongs in most sf collections. Highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Tourists and scientists have all come to watch the destruction of Deepsix by a planetary collision. However, a few days before, signs of intelligent and technological life are found on the planet, and a team is sent to investigate. It includes Randall Nightingale, who led a previous, failed expedition to the planet years before; Priscilla Hutchins, a pilot who ends up in command; and Gregory MacAllister, a journalist who not only wrecked Nightingale's career with a series of articles, but who is also renowned for his sexism. The author makes the alien planet seem real, poses a compelling engineering challenge involving some of the minor characters, and describes a variety of interesting alien life-forms. The well-rounded characters grow through their adventures, without that growth seeming trite or inevitable. There's even some provocativesocial commentary. What makes this novel work, however, is the combination of an interesting mystery involving the planet's alien life-forms and the team's thrilling adventure as they try to escape the planet before it is destroyed. Set in the 23rd century, this fast-paced novel should appeal to readers interested in science and technology.-Paul Brink, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins Series , #2
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Chapter One

The impending collision out there somewhere in the great dark between a gas giant and a world very much like our own has some parallels to the eternal collision between religion and common sense. One is bloated and full of gas, and the other is measurable and solid. One engulfs everything around it, and the other simply provides a place to stand. One is a rogue destroyer that has come in out of the night, and the other is a warm well-lighted place vulnerable to the sainted mobs.
— Gregory MacAllister, Have Your Money Ready

They came back to Maleiva III to watch the end of the world.

Researchers had been looking forward to it since its imminence was proclaimed almost twenty years earlier by Jeremy Benchwater Morgan, an ill-tempered combustible astrophysicist who, according to colleagues, had been born old. Even today Morgan is the subject of all kinds of dark rumors, that he had driven one child to tranks and another to suicide, that he'd forced his first wife into an early grave, that he'd relentlessly destroyed careers of persons less talented than he even though he gained nothing by doing so, that he'd consistently taken credit for the work of others. How much of this is true, no one really knows. What is on the record, however, is that Morgan had been both hated and feared by his colleagues and apparently by a deranged brother-in-law who made at least two attempts to kill him. When he'd died, finally, of heart failure, his onetime friend and longtime antagonist, Gunther Beekman, commented privately that he had beaten his second wife to the punch. In accordance with his instructions, no memorial wasconducted. It was, some said, his last act of vindictiveness, denying his family and associates the satisfaction of staying home.

Because he had done the orbital work and predicted the coming collision, the Academy had given his name to the rogue world that had invaded the Maleiva system. Although that was a gesture required by tradition in any case, many felt that the Academy directors had taken grim pleasure in their action.

Morgan's World approached Jovian dimensions. Its mass was 296 times that of Earth. Diameter at the equator was 131,600 kilometers, at the poles about five percent less. This oblateness resulted from a rotational period of just over nine hours. It had a rocky core a dozen times as massive as the Earth. It was otherwise composed primarily of hydrogen and helium.

It was tilted almost ninety degrees to its own plane of movement, and half as much to the system plane. It was a gray-blue world, its atmosphere apparently placid and untroubled, with neither rings nor satellites.

"Do we know where it came from?" Marcel asked.

Gunther Beekman, small, bearded, overweight, was seated beside him on the bridge. He nodded and brought up a fuzzy patch on the auxiliary display, closed in on it, and enhanced. "Here's the suspect," he said. "It's a section of the Chippewa Cloud, and if we're right, Morgan's been traveling half a billion years."

In approximately three weeks, on Saturday, December 9, at 1756 hours GMT, the intruder would collide head-on with Maleiva 111.

Maleiva was the infant daughter of the senator who'd chaired the science funding committee when the initial survey was done, two decades earlier. There were eleven planets in the system, but only the doomed third world had received a name to go with its Roman numeral: From the beginning they called it Deepsix. In the often malicious nature of things, it was also one of the very few worlds known to harbor life. Even though locked in a three-thousand-year-old ice age, it would have made, in time, an exquisite new outpost for the human race.

"The collision here is only the beginning of the process," Beekman said. "We can't predict precisely what's going to happen afterward, but within a few thousand years Morgan will have made a complete shambles of this system." He leaned back, folded his hands behind his head, and adopted an expression of complacency. "It's going to be an interesting show to watch."

Beekman was the head of the Morgan Project, a planetologist who had twice won the Nobel, a lifelong bachelor, and a onetime New York State chess champion. He routinely referred to the coming Event as "the collision," but Marcel was struck by the relative sizes of the two worlds. It would most certainly not be a collision. Deepsix would fall into Morgan's clouds, like a coin casually dropped into a pool.

"Why doesn't it have any moons?" he asked Beekman.

Beekman considered the question. "Probably all part of the same catastrophe. Whatever ejected it from its home system would have taken off all the enhancements. We may see something like that here in a few centuries."

"In what way?"

"Morgan's going to stay in the neighborhood. At least for a while. It's going into a highly unstable orbit." He brought up a graphic of Maleiva and its planetary system. One gas giant was so close to the sun that it was actually skimming through the corona. The rest of the system resembled Earth's own, terrestrial worlds in close, gas giants farther out. There was even an asteroid belt, where a world had failed to form because of the nearby presence of a jovian. "It'll eventually mangle everything," he said, sounding almost wistful. "Some of these worlds will get dragged out of their orbits into new ones, which will be irregular and probably unstable. One or two may spiral into the sun. Others will get ejected from the system altogether."

"Not a place," said Marcel, "where you'd want to invest in real estate."

"I wouldn't think," agreed Beekman.

Marcel Clairveau was captain of the Wendy Jay, which was carrying the Morgan research team that would...

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