Melissa McShane's Reviews > Infinity Beach

Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt
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's review
Jul 29, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: own, science-fiction
Read in July, 2012

The first time I read this (in 2000) I didn't much like it. It was an interesting space adventure, but I didn't like that the "aliens" were fake--it seemed like cheating to have them be some kind of human artifact. I've carried that memory with me all these years and I only decided to re-read it because I needed something I could lay down and pick up again at will.

And, of course, those of you who have read the book know that this is absolutely not how the plot goes. The aliens are real, they aren't something human-created that just looks alien, and the secret about who they are is pretty clever. I'm mystified as to how I could have created such an obviously incorrect memory, given that I read it for a book club and would, as usual, have developed that opinion because of the discussion. And it's not like this is complicated literature; nothing about the plot is ambiguous. Apparently I had a momentary lapse of intelligence twelve years ago. I hope it was momentary.

Infinity Beach is a good example of its kind, space exploration wedded with mystery, and the sort of novel that McDevitt has built his career on since. Kim Brandywine's search for her missing clone-sister Emily plays out like a good investigative mystery, against the background of a human society that has become decadent and passive as it has eliminated problems like poverty and old age. Did Emily disappear because she was murdered, or was her disappearance part of something whose revelation to the world might have dire consequences? I had some issues with McDevitt's idea of a future society, but the kind that prompt me to reflect on what I think about the subject, not the kind that irritate me because he's Just So Wrong. I'm so glad I chose to read the book again, if only so I can remember it the right way this time.

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