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Infinity Beach

Infinity Beach

4.4 38
by Jack McDevitt

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We are alone. That is the verdict, after centuries of Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence missions and space exploration. The only living things in the Universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled from Earth, and the starships that knit them together. Or so it's believed, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine sets out to find what happened to her clone-sister


We are alone. That is the verdict, after centuries of Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence missions and space exploration. The only living things in the Universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled from Earth, and the starships that knit them together. Or so it's believed, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine sets out to find what happened to her clone-sister Emily, who, after the final, unsuccessful manned SETI expedition, disappeared along with the rest of her ship's crew.

Following a few ominous clues, Kim discovers the ship's log was faked. Something happened out there in the darkness between the stars, and she's prepared to go to any length to find answers. Even if it means giving up her career...stealing a starship...losing her lover. Kim is about to discover the truth about her sister — and about more than she ever dared imagine.

Editorial Reviews

Science Fiction Weekly
McDevitt has written a complex, perfectly paced hard SF puzzle story addressing some of the genre's most important themes--humanity's proper role as an intelligent species in the cosmos, and the need not to be utterly alone.
San Diego Union-Tribune
A slick First Contact story...a fine read.
Steven King
The logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.....You're going to love it.
Stephen King
Jack McDevitt is that splendid rarity, a writer who is a storyteller first and a science fiction writer second. In his ability to absolutely rivet the reader, it seems to me that he is the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. "Infinity Beach" is a ... fascinating look at how first contact with an utterly alien species might happen. I simply couldn't put it down. You're going to love it even if you think you don't like science fiction.
Florida Times-Union
Bottom line, "Infinity Beach" is a good read, a deft combination of science-fiction and a whisp of horror in a future that is almost believable. McDevitt makes it a page-turner.
Macon Telegraph
The new novel by Jack McDevitt, one of science fiction's most spine- and mind-tingling authors, presents contact—or lack of contact—with an intelligent alien species as a cosmic puzzle, a murder mystery, a ghost story and a philosophical debate..."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...It's jaw-dropping time.
Science Fiction Chronicle
[McDevitt's] best yet thanks to a clever plot, superior characterizations, and several outstandingly good scenes.
New York Review of Science Fiction
Another page-turner...thoroughly entertains and absorbs you in its unfolding drama.
Catherine Asaro
This novel is an engrossing science fiction mystery. In addition to telling a great story, it offers the reader thoughtful questions about what it means for humanity to mature rather than stagnate as a species. The author has served up another exciting, literate yarn.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HA thousand years in the future, on the terraformed planet Greenaway, humanity has everything to make itself comfortable and complacent--longevity, leisure and luxury are all readily available. But one question remains: Is humanity alone in the universe? Kimberly Brandywine doesn't necessarily believe in aliens, until she hears that her missing elder "sister," of whom she's a clone, may have been murdered, along with some crewmates, by celestial beings after a voyage aboard a space yacht. Her sister/clone's disappearance has long haunted Kim, whose search for the truth takes her underwater and into space, loses her a lover and causes her to commit crimes (including stealing a spaceship). Kim's efforts to solve the mystery of the vanishing and to make first contact with the aliens presumably behind it are hampered by the general malaise society has sunk into. And since death appears to follow in the wake of the aliens, Kim wavers about whether first contact will be beneficial or will destroy civilization as she knows it. McDevitt (Eternity Road) has created a future that is technologically sound and filled with hubristic, foolish people who make choices based more on how they will look to history than on what's best for it. Though his aliens are insubstantial (both physically and on the page), the mystery of what happened to Kim's sister and her fellow celestial seekers unfolds as precisely as an origami flower, and will hold readers in thrall. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
On the colony world of Greenway, humans still search in vain for evidence of alien intelligence. When Kim Brandywine, fundraiser for the Seabright Institute's Beacon Project, begins an investigation into the disappearance of her cloned sister Emily, also involved in the search for extraterrestrial life, she opens a door that leads her to her fondest dreams and darkest nightmares. The author of Moonfall combines elements of mystery and horror with a classic story of first contact in a masterly tale that belongs in most sf collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
YA-This futuristic novel has an intriguing mystery and gives a view of what could happen if another life-form, completely different from our own, were found. Twenty-seven years after the disappearance of her sister (and clone), Kim Brandywine begins the long process of solving Emily's mysterious disappearance along with the fates of the three other crew members who were with her on their last voyage into space. Kim uses friends as well as her own intelligence and bravado to force and find clues. The mystery brings frightening moments as she faces life-forms that were unsuccessfully dealt with in the recent past. Some well-placed spooky moments elevate the heart rate as the search for the truth progresses. McDevitt deftly mixes in a detailed vision of a successful colony of humans on another world, including the cultural aspects, even as the plot spins toward solving the mystery. Personal relationships share an important aspect of the story, and the author draws personalities of even the minor characters clearly and succinctly. This is a wonderful mix of science-based fiction, mystery, and romance, with loads of action, as well as some spine-tingling moments.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

Infinity Beach

Chapter One

New Year's Eve, 599

It seems safe now to assume that the terrestrial origin of life was a unique event. Some will quibble that we have, after all, seen only a few thousand of the billions of worlds drifting through the gently curving corridors we once called biozones. But we have stood on too many warm beaches and looked across seas over which no gulls hover, that throw forth neither shells, nor strands of weed, nor algae. They are peaceful seas, bounded by rock and sand.

The universe has come to resemble a magnificent but sterile wilderness, an ocean which boasts no friendly coast, no sails, no sign that any have passed this way before. And we cannot help but tremble in the gray light of these vast distances. Maybe that is why we are converting the great interstellar liners into museums, or selling them for parts. Why we have begun to retreat, why the Nine Worlds are now really six, why the frontier is collapsing why we are going home to our island.

We are coming back at last to Earth. To the forests of our innocence. To the shores of night. Where we need not listen to the seaborne wind.

Farewell, Centaurus. Farewell to all we might have been.

-- Elio Kardi, "The Shores of Night," Voyagers, 571

"Nova goes in three minutes." Dr. Kimberly Brandywine looked out across the dozen or so faces in the briefing room. In back, lenses were pointed at her, sending the event out across the nets. Behind, her projections read HELLO TO THE UNIVERSE and KNOCK and IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?

Several flatscreens were positioned around the walls, showingtechnicians bent over terminals in the Trent. These were the teams that would ignite the nova, but the images were fourteen hours old, the time required for the hypercomm transmissions to arrive.

Everyone present was attractive and youthful, except sometimes for their eyes. However vital and agile people were, their true age tended to reveal itself in their gaze. There was a hardness that came with advancing years, eyes that somehow lost their depth and their animation. Kim was in her midthirties, with exquisite features and hair the color of a raven's wing. In an earlier era, they would have launched ships for her. in her own age, she was just part of the crowd.

"If we haven't found anybody after all this time," the representative from Seabright Communications was saying, "it can only be because there's nobody to find. Or, if there is, they're so far away it doesn't matter."

She delivered her standard reply, discounting the great silence, point-ing out that even after eight centuries humans had still inspected only afew thousand star systems. "But you may be right ," she admitted."Maybe we are alone. But the fact is that we really don't know. So we'll keep trying.'"

Kim had long since concluded that Seabright was right, They hadn't found so much as an amoeba out there. Briefly, at the beginning of the Space Age, there'd been speculation that life might exist in Europa's seas. Or in Jupiter's clouds. There'd even been a piece of meteoric rock thought to contain evidence of Martian bacteria. It was as dose to extraterrestrial life as we'd ever come.

Hands were still waving.

"One more question," she said.

She gave it to Canon Woodbridge, a science advisor for the Grand Council of the Republic. He was tall, dark, bearded, almost satanic in appearance, yet a congenial fiend, one who meant no harm. "Kim" he said, "why do you think we're so afraid of being alone? Why do we want so much to find our own reflections out there?" He glanced in the direction of the screens, where the technicians continued their almostceremonial activities.

How on earth would she know? "I have no idea, Canon," she said.

"But you're deeply involved in the Beacon Project. And your sister devoted her life to the same goal."

"Maybe it's in the wiring." Emily, her done actually, had vanished when Kim was seven. She paused momentarily and tried to deliver a thoughtful response, something about the human need to communicate and to explore. "I suspect," she said, "if there's really nothing out there, if the universe is really empty, or at least this part of it is, then maybe a lot of us would feel there's no point to the trip.' There was more to it than that, she knew. Some primal urge not to be alone. But when she tried to put it into words she floundered around, gave up, and glanced at the clock.

One minute to midnight, New Year's Eve, in the two hundred eleventh year of the Republic and the six hundredth year since Marquand's landing. One minute to detonation.

"How are we doing on time?" asked one of the journalists. "Are they on schedule?"

"Yes," Kim said. "As of ten A.M. this morning." The hypercomm signal from the Trent required fourteen hours and some odd minutes to travel the 580 light-years from the scene of detonation. I think we're safe to assume that the nova is imminent.'

She activated an overhead screen, which picked up an image of the target star. Alpha Maxim was a bright AO-class. Hydrogen lines prominent. Surface temperature 11,000* C. Luminosity sixty times that of Helios. Five planets. All barren. Like every other known world, save the few that had been terraformed.

It would be the first of six novas. All would occur within a volume of space which measured approximately five hundred cubic light-years. And they would be triggered at sixty-day intervals. It would be a demonstration that could not help but draw the attention of anyone who might be watching. The ultimate message to the stars: We are here.

But she believed, as almost everyone else did, that the great silence would continue to roll back.

Infinity Beach. Copyright © by Jack McDevitt. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Jack McDevitt is the author of A Talent for War, The Engines of God, Ancient Shores, Eternity Road, Moonfall, and numerous prize-winning short stories. He has served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, taught English and literature, and worked for the U.S. Customs Service in North Dakota and Georgia.

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Infinity Beach 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read several of McDevitt's books and enjoy his mystery writing style. But like Ludlam's novels they are very similar to each other. The first is usually the best because you dont yet know the formula. Regardless, Infinity Beach is a good escape and can be enjoyed even by those who don't care for sci fi, because it's actually a who-done-it that happens to be set in the future.
Halykan More than 1 year ago
It's a strange novel, starting a bit slow and building to an intriguing ending. It's a good read for people who enjoy the occasional mystery. I find the central premise to be a bit of a stretch (that they haven't found so much as a bacteria of non-terrestrial origin in something like two million cubic light years) but the author uses it pretty well. About the only criticism I can level is that I found nearly all of the characters unlikable - it drives the story nicely but the only person I found to be interesting was Solly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is gripping all the way through. Mystery, sci-fi, murder, and a few 'little' surprises, it's got it all. I've read just about all of his books, and this is his best !
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great book for anyone who likes science fiction or mystery. Very thrilling and suspenseful.
VWVIEW More than 1 year ago
Galactic stories of civilizations meeting for the first time are not new. This one ends with a benign meeting for once. On the way to the happy ending, the book is written almost as a detective story with ample clues that leave one with 'on the way' mysteries to solve. It is not new that once we know we are not alone in the universe some will feel vindicated and others will just have to forgo their entrenched uniqueness. This leads to many reasons not to reveal others existences, as is the case after the first meeting. The second meeting however, shows earthlings in a noble light and the visitors as forgiving and understanding. Would that we could show the same in our own age and world. A gently written book that kept my interest on several levels.
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lightning25 More than 1 year ago
Good story--different with a mystery to boot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
suspenseful, well paced with well developed characters and situations. A fine cautionary tale of first contact situations, and an erudite look at governmental bureaucracy.
Tandler More than 1 year ago
Strangely this is the first book I've read by this author, but it won't be the last!! From cover to cover it was an excellent read.
MickCO More than 1 year ago
This was a little different from what I normally read but it was a very interesting story and a good example of things that can go wrong when people don't understand one another. The story keeps you interested till the end. Good work
wxman80 More than 1 year ago
A bit of a slow starter, but well worth the patience. An interesting main character...determined and brave. This is really a detective story/mystery thriller set in the distant future. I would recommend Infinity Beach to lovers of both mysteries and science fiction.h
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Solid read. Kept me anxious and curious.
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