Ships in the Night
by Jack McDevitt
Review by Steve Sawicki
Altair Australia Books Trade ISBN/ITEM#: 0975720805
Date: 4/05 List Price 19.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Jack McDevitt is a novelist. Or at least that's what everyone thinks. He does write the occasional short story, and, in fact, his first published piece was a short story. But, he's mostly considered a novelist. And he should be, taking on the hard science fiction mantle that so many others seem to want to avoid. Perhaps this collection will help set the record straight.
This collection is gleaned mostly from the magazines with the odd piece from an anthology added in for good measured. The work encompasses dates from 1982 through 2002 with most of them seeing publication in the 90's. All told, there are 14 stories along with an introduction by Mike Resnick. The stories all contain the makings of the things that McDevitt uses to build his novels and it does make you think that what we have here is a novelist writing short stories rather than a short story writer writing short stories. What do I mean by that? I mean that McDevitt does not seem to know how to have small ideas.
The anthology contains a wide variety of stories: far future, time travel, hard science, amusing, irony, and more with hardly any two being similar. My favorite has to be "Time's Arrow" which is the time travel story but it's a time travel story that makes an opposite argument, which is something else McDevitt tends to like to do. The other thing about these stories is that the characters tend to not be supermen, even when they are engineers. The stories are as often about human failing as they are about human success. Regardless, the stories are all pretty darn entertaining and most bring back a feeling of wonder at grasping ideas larger than yourself; ideas that you've not quite thought out to these conclusions; ideas that seem to twist in on themselves instead of going in the directions most writers would take them. In a nutshell the book is a fun read.
If you plan to buy this book, and you should, you need to visit www.altair-australia.com/altair/sitn.html, which is the only source at this time.
Go. Buy. Read. Enjoy.