Monday, June 9, 2008

Book Report: Chindi, by Jack mcDevitt

The cover reviews for Chindi compare it to Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, and that is an apt comparison. The major difference is the presence of a plot in mcDevitt's book, something that was intentionally missing from Rama. It remains an interesting stylistic exercise, though, because the book has an almost trip-diary feel: this happened, then this happened, then this happened with each incident of more or less equal weight until nearly two thirds of the way through. Like Rama, the mystery of the spacefaring alien race is never fully revealed.

One point of surprise was the death toll through the book. Numerous characters, many of which seemed central to the story, meet their end by accident or as a result of their own character flaws. I was somewhat disappointed by the end. It provided a satisfactory conclusion, but it retreats from the fairly intimate relating of events through a viewpoint character (mainly Patricia Hutchins, space pilot), to a third-person POV for a grand summary of events that followed the end of the story. It took me out of things at a time when I really wanted to know the emotional/spiritual impact of events on the characters, not just what they ended up doing.

An excellent read with good pace and scientific detail enough to fall firmly into hard SF territory.

No comments: