The beginning and end of Cauldron are beautifully linked, illuminating both the journey that lies within the novel and the compulsion of human beings to explore the boundaries of their environment, be it a continent, a world or outer space. Anyone pessimistic about our own space program might take heart in reading Cauldron.
The Washington Post
Space opera specialist McDevitt shoehorns two traditional SF plots into his latest Academy novel (after 2006's Odyssey), doing both stories a disservice. Youthful physicist Jon Silvestri persuades the philanthropic Prometheus Foundation to back tests of a risky interstellar drive that's vastly superior to current technology. Soon series keystone Priscilla Hutchins finds herself aboard a newly outfitted ship dispatched to the galactic core, seeking the source of a million-year-old interstellar menace. The cast is uniformly likable if prickly, but no true protagonist emerges from McDevitt's ensemble. Some sections are leisurely, others rushed. Readers see little of the star drive research, and the space voyage is triply sidetracked-to a planet of cheerfully technophobic aliens, an abandoned world with unexpected dangers and a black hole with a tantalizing secret-before reaching its stated objective, where the threat's origin is summarily introduced and disposed of in the last 60 pages. Despite considerable inventiveness and an enthusiastic pro-space agenda, the story remains superficial, especially frustrating from a writer of McDevitt's caliber. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
By the middle of the 23rd century, starflight has become a thing of the past, relegated to private eccentrics as inefficient and fiscally unjustifiable, until a young man, John Silvestri, approaches the Prometheus Foundation claiming to have produced a star drive that makes travel to distant stars almost instantaneous. Demonstrating his claim, John enables the Prometheus Foundation to journey to the heart of the galaxy, a seething tumult of stars, strange omega clouds, and an enormous black hole-the Cauldron. Accompanying John and a chosen few scientists and researchers is Priscilla Hutchinson, a former pilot for the now-defunct Academy of Science and Technology and an expert on the many dangers that threaten their journey. Nebula Award winner McDevitt's novels featuring Hutchinson (Odyssey) display his talent for character building and seamlessly blending hard science with sf action/adventure. Highly recommended.
Latest addition to McDevitt's longstanding space-adventure series (Odyssey, 2006, etc.). By the year 2255, interstellar flight is all but dead, with only a few diehards like Prometheus Foundation's director Rudy Golombek keeping the dream alive. Along comes young physicist Jon Silvestri, insisting that he can make the failed Locarno star drive work. Retired starship pilot and Foundation fundraiser Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins believes him, and persuades Rudy to offer one of his remaining ships to test the drive. The test fails, badly, and spaceflight seems doomed. But then former starship pilot Matt Darwin, now selling real estate in Washington, D.C., has the bright idea of using an old lander now parked on a local school's lawn. Matt puts together a fundraising campaign (so carefully drawn that it could serve as a blueprint for reviving America's current, semi-moribund space program) and this time, after some heart-stopping moments, the drive's a success-indeed, it's so fast that the center of the galaxy is now only three months's travel away. Funds now pour in, and Hutch, Jon, Matt, Rudy and science journalist Antonio Giannotti decide to take two ships on a voyage of exploration. Their ports of call: the planet at the heart of a mysterious galaxy-wide surveillance operation; the origin of an equally mysterious message from space recorded by Hutch's father; a black hole up close and personal; and finally, the source of the hostile and seemingly purposefully directed "omega" clouds that have ravaged the galaxy for thousands of years. Not peak McDevitt-slow to develop and not especially surprising-but workmanlike and brimming with the author's trademark low-key charms. Agent: RalphVicinanza/Ralph M. Vicinanza Ltd.