The Barnes & Noble Review Alex Benedict and his executive assistant, Chase Kolpath -- ambitious antiquities dealers from Jack McDevitt's A Talent for War (1989) and, more recently, Polaris -- are back in Seeker, a story in which the two antiquarians search for a legendary lost colony that is both a science fiction thriller and a remarkably complex mystery.
More than 9,000 years after an interstellar transport named Seeker left an overcrowded and politically repressive Earth with the dream of founding a new society on an unspecified planet, Benedict and Kolpath stumble across a ceramic cup that was once on the now-legendary lost starship. But tracking down how the ancient artifact got from the ship into the hands of a maltreated woman and her thuggish boyfriend turns out to be more than Benedict and Kolpath bargained for -- as their search leads them across multiple star systems and straight into an anonymous assassin's crosshairs. But as the killer closes in, the two courageous antiquarians uncover the jaw-dropping truth about the lost starship and the legendary colony
Equally reminiscent of Frederik Pohl's Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Heechee saga (Gateway, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, et al.) and a classic Ellery Queen mystery, McDevitt's Seeker will appeal to readers of hard-core science fiction, as well as adventurous mystery fans looking for an out-of-this-world story. And just like Polaris, Seeker is characterized by a bombshell of an ending that will leave readers absolutely awestruck. Paul Goat Allen
Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. His work has been on the final ballot for the Nebula Awards for 12 of the past 13 years. His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the celebrated Ace Specials series and won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. In 1991, McDevitt won the first $10,000 UPC International Prize for his novella, "Ships in the Night." The Engines of God was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and his novella, "Time Travelers Never Die," was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.
McDevitt lives in Georgia with his wife, Maureen, where he plays chess, reads mysteries and eats lunch regularly with his cronies.
It’s somehow difficult to qualify just why I enjoy McDevitt so much. His stories invariably have a long build up. Yet, I always end up enjoying them a lot. Perhaps it’s the big reveal mechanism that he so effectively employs. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Alex Benedict books are so hard to pigeonhole (Is it far future thriller? Is it Hard SF? Is it Space Opera? Is it archaeological mystery in space? Is it all of the above?). Perhaps it’s simply the fact that they feel so comfortable, like a pair of lived in jeans.
Suffice to say, I do enjoy these books. Seeker, in particular, is one of my favourites. Nobody is likely to draw any comparison between Alex Benedict and Indiana Jones (he pretty much leaves all the manly action type stuff to his female sidekick), but these books do have a strong archeological bent, albeit on a vastly grander scale. In this particular instance the search is on for a mythical colony ship (the Seeker of the title) which disappeared 9,000 years previously, with colonists and all. It turns out that the future history that McDevitt has created is well suited to this kind of mystery, and I daresay these books would possibly even appeal to readers of contemporary mysteries who wouldn’t typically indulge in Science Fiction. That’s not to say that the science in here is soft, it just takes a bit of a back seat to the story, with one spectacular exception that I can’t mention here (spoiler territory).
There is more than a little intrigue as the story unfolds. McDevitt doesn’t hurry proceedings; he just lets it happen. Don’t let that fool you though, when excitement does strike it packs quite a punch. And, when the reveal finally comes, reminiscent of the best of Poirot and Holmes, you can’t help but feel awe at his vision. It could just be that McDevitt owns this corner of the Science Fiction market; I’m not aware of any other authors who regularly write the same kind of thing, but feel free to educate me in the comments field below.
In the end the book is just a whole lot of fun, with some “gosh-wow!” moments, especially at the grand finale. It just goes to show how a good story can transcend any genre.
Seeker won the Nebula award for best novel in 2006. It was also nominated for the John W. Campbell award.
If Xeno-Archaeology is more your thing, McDevitt’s Academy / Priscilla Hutchins series is worth investigating. Start with The Engines of God.
'06 Nebula winner, equal parts Space Opera and Noir Mystery, but that really translates mostly into Future History Archeology, with a treasure-hunting bent, twists and turns, lots of interesting characters, and lost spacecraft and lost colonies.
Was I really happy about the last twist and the epilogue? Hell yes.
All this takes place about 10k in the future, but there's a legend of a lost colony gone 9k ago before the advent of FTL travel or communications, and it's the subject of much attention and drama. Atlantis, anyone? Well what happens when weird things start showing up, crazy mysteries get unearthed, and our favorite team get involved in the hunt?
It's a mystery! Most of the fun is all in the reveals and the character interactions, and I'll be honest, I like Chase better as the narrator because she just might be smarter than the titular MC who's getting kinda pushed out of his own series. :) It's not a bad alteration. :) She's a tough Noir investigator.
I'm having a lot of fun with these novels! It's pretty much the most fun I've had with archeology novels I've had, but perhaps that's because I just haven't read the right ones. Still, I love the mix with Space Opera. :)
Full review to come after a reread. Read: January, 2019
An exceptional installment of a very engrossing hard/soft sci-fi series that combines classic hard sci-fi elements, a noir/historical quest and mystery together with amazing speculative science with Big Ideas sense of wanderlust reminiscent of my favorite authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov and others.
This was the Nebula Award winner for 2006, so I thought I'd be in for a treat. The premise sounded pretty good: 9,000 years in the future, two antiquities/salvage experts find a relic from a lost colony ship which leads to big adventure and lots of danger.
There are a lot of cool ideas about future technology. I especially liked the avatars of famous historical persons, assembled from all available data on the net. The alien-relations the humans have with the "Mutes" is fairly interesting — Humans and Mutes find each other so repulsive they can't be in the same room without feeling physically revolted. Other than scraps of clever ideas, the writing is pretty pedestrian and the dialogue borders on dreadful ("It was you all along..."). The main characters have the depth and flexibility of balsa wood. I really had to struggle through the last 100 pages or so. The plot was essentially constructed as a mystery... and a pretty lame mystery at that, with little suspense or tension. The villain in the story is supposed to be a surprise, but the author clumsily tips his hand and you find yourself guessing far in advance of the final showdown.
My main beef with a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy is the lack of attention given to world-building. A world is one of THE major characters in a SciFi/Fantasy book (Middle Earth...Hogwarts...Dune). The world of Rimway and the broader galaxy this book presents feels like it could be 30 to 50 years in the future, not 9,000 years in the future!
First of all, this is the most entertaining science fiction novel I've read in ten years, since I discovered the Hyperion Cantos. I have read quite a bit of scifi, and this is among the best of the best. I honestly do not understand why there are not more five star reviews.
Here's why I loved it. It takes place in ten thousand years but it ascertains that human beings will be largely the same. History gets lost the older you go back. Lessons from history are still the same. Mystery begets interest.
This is a mystery novel wrapped in scifi and it really works well equally in both genres. Which is an amazing accomplishment. It casually packs in so many ideas that it is brilliant how McDevitt decides what to emphasize for the purposes of plot. Which he does do exceedingly well. Hidden motivations of the past and present abound. I love Chase, she is just a great female detective. A totally believable one at that.
The worlds that McDevitt creates are all so believable because they are so easy to relate to. Even if a character is traveling through a world with the one other alien species we manage to contact in this future, with telepathic bug aliens we find hideous, there is still the ability for the author to tap into the experience of feeling alone in a foreign land. It is that sense of adventure that really propels this into a category all of its own.
But you should read this book because it is about the human love of discovery. Discovery isn't always flashy. Sometimes it is about hard work and researching your ass off. It is rewarding in the end when you discover something unique. That is what the book is about but there is plenty of action and mayhem to satisfy just about any hardcore fan of either archaeological thrillers or scifi or detective fiction. HIGHLY recommended if you're in the mood to take off to strange new worlds.
Alex Benedict is a dealer in antiquities. A new client brings him a cup, an artifact of the Seeker, a spaceship belonging to a group that left Earth thousands of years ago to found a colony orbiting a distant star. A colony that was lost to history, the colonists assumed to have perished. Searching for the Seeker leads Benedict and his assistant to more questions, as the secret of the lost colony proves to have deadly repercussions …
According to Goodreads, this is the third Alex Benedict novel. There don't seem to be any major spoilers for the first two, though I haven't read them, so I can't be sure. If this book is typical of the series, then they can probably be read in any order. It feels more like a standalone novel than part of a series.
If anything, this feels like a Golden Age science fiction novel. In my head, the characters were all dressed in late 50's/early 60's fashions and styles, and it didn't seem out of place. The book seems like it could sit on a shelf next to Heinlein and Asimov and Clarke and fit in nicely.
The pacing is somewhat sedate. There's a lot of researching and digging through archives and flying to other planets to interview people and so on. This feels right for the story, which is more about research archeology than the Indiana Jones variety.
I think that what struck me most deeply about this book was the sense of deep time. In the era in which the story takes place, the Seeker departed Earth nine thousand years ago. That's longer than the entirety of recorded history (as I'm typing this, anyway, and hello to any future archeologists who may be reading this. The 21st century really wasn't as bad as some make it out to be.)
Ultimately, a bit on the quiet side, but a fine science fiction novel nonetheless. Recommended!
Nelabai suprantu už ką šiai knygai skirta Nebula premija. Tai toks fantastinis detektyvas, bet nei fantastinė, nei detektyvinė dalis nedaro labai didelio įspudžio. Nors veiksmas vyksta po beveik 10000 metų, nuo mūsų laikų, viskas labai jau primena šiuos laikus, kelių technologijų kaip kompiuterinės kažkada gyvenusių žmonių avataros ar tarpžvaigždiniai skrydžiai (kurie primena tiesiog skrydžius lėktuvais). Net vienintelė knygoje sutinkama ateivių rasė labai jau primena žmones (neskaitant to kad jie telepatai). Bent jau fantastinei daliai autorius pristigo fantazijos. Pagrindiniai knygos herojai yra archeologas, ieškantis relikvijų ir jas brangiai parduodantis kolekcininkam, ir jo asistentė, iš kurios perspektyvos ir vyksta pasakojimas. Į herojų rankas patenka puodelis iš prieš 9000 metų pradingusio laivo "Ieškotojas" ir jie pradeda jo paieškas. Veiksmas vyksta labai lėtai. Iš lėto rankiojama detalė, po detalės, gija dažnai nuveda į akligatvį, bet visad vėl užčiuopiamas siūlo galas. Apskraitai veiksmo nėra labai daug - daug pokalbių, susitikimų, skaidžiojimo iš planetos į planetą (beveik visą tą juodą darbą atlieka asistentė). Tik paskutiniam knygos trečdalyje atsiranda kažkokios veiksmo užuomazgos. Knyga yra knygų serijos 3 dalis, kitos dalys į lietuvių kalbą nėra išverstos. Bet tai visiškai netrukdo, nes istorija yra visai atskira ir užuominų į ankstesnes dalis nėra daug. Apskritai knyga nėra labai bloga, tiesiog tokia eilinė - perskaitei ir pamiršai. Tikrai neverta premijos.
I listened to the audio book, don't do that. The woman who reads this is terrible. There is no drama in her voice. She differentiates the different women characters by making them more or less breathy. That's just too much for me to stand.
I cannot believe this is a Nebula Award winner. At first the plot was fairly interesting, although there is a ton of info-dumping going on. But it kept going long past when it should and the ending was unfulfilling. Plus there is bad science.
I don't have the patience to discuss everything so I'm just going to talk about the science.
1) The alien race, the "mutes" are telepathic. Okay, I can live with that. But on more than one occasion the book mentions that they are probably moving toward a hive mind and that humans will probably evolve to become telepaths. Really? What biological forces would do that? Where is the selection pressure for either a hive mind in the mutes or telepathy in the humans? Since humans have spread among at least dozens of star systems, they must number in the trillions. Are they *all* going to "evolve" into telepaths? This demonstrates such a basic lack of understanding of evolution and biology that I just can't get past it.
2) The two planets of the Margolians both underwent extreme climatic change (to put it mildly) around nine thousand years ago that must have resulted in mass extinctions. One planet was thrown into a highly elliptical orbit that gave it very short, extremely hot summers and absolutely frigid winters. (As if it is even the elliptical nature of Earth that even causes the seasons!) The other planet was ripped from its sun and brought into a very close, tidally-locked orbit of a brown dwarf. And 9,000 years later they both had apparently stable ecosystems with large animals and dense forests. That's not 9 million years, it's 9 thousand. Ugh!
Seeker is the most original, interesting, and thoughtful of the Alex Benedict novels. Like the others, so long as you don't take it too seriously, you can have some fun reading it. I give this one four stars (instead of three like the others) because it has some really cool, original ideas woven in.
I'm not a big McDevitt fan, but I like the Alex Benedict novels. They're reasonably well crafted. Just think of this book as a little "roughage" for your mind.
I stumbled onto this book when going over a list of Nebula Award winners. I must say as a sci-fi story it plays differently then most of the other books in the genre. It's a mix of Indiana Jones with Marco Polo set in the distant future. It's a "lost civilization" story where the main characters are treasure hunters looking for rare items from the distant past. The story takes place 10,000 years into the future; humans have been traveling in space for so long that space faring civilizations have risen and fallen.
It is part of a series of boos called the "Alex Benedict" series. However this is a strange thing because the majority of the story is about Alex's partner, Chase Kolpath. Alex plays almost like a minor character, pushing Chase further and farther into the assignment.
The story is about the search for a lost colony. Not just any lost colony, this is one of the first space colonization attempts made by humans 10,000 years ago. This colony was started by a group of separatist who wanted to escape the tyranny and oppression of the Earth. The legend goes that the colonist made every effort to ensure that no one could find their colony, and they succeeded.
Chase, the main character of the story, goes off on different assignments in search of clues that could help locate this colony. Mixed in with the mystery of the lost colony of Margolia are interweaving mysteries on how the original clue managed to reach the light of day and a mysterious killer who is taking out treasure hunters.
The story is a bit slow at times but there are wonderful action moments and tension scattered about to keep the story going. The real gem in this story is the setting and the description of both the utopian present day world that Chase lives in and the horror of the ancient past where freedom is non-existant. Here the author is able to make critical statements about the state of our society through the mind of Chase; who is baffled by the idea the humans could submit to blind faith in religious authority and all free thought and critical thinking is branded as "unpatriotic and heretical" as the Earth the Margolian's attempt to flee is caught in the grips of a religious hegemon who is both the leader of the Church and the State and whose authority comes from the will of God. It also has what I think is the best description of inter-species interactions. In this future there is one other sentient species; a race of telepaths that ironically look like demons; red skin and fanged teeth. Due to their appearance and the fact that direct communication is limited this makes any interactions difficult and uncomfortable.
The story climaxes into a great thriller ending with a little scooby-doo thrown in when the attacker is finally revealed. My only disappointment was the overly happy ending with the lost colony revealed. But the imagery painted by McDevitt is very well done and except for some moments where the story drags he manages to captivate me with the wonderful universe he creates.
Anyone interested in a sci-fi story that is not the usual space war/ soap opera/space fantasy and tries to put hard science into the story in ways that moves the story forward should give this a shot. The best part of those moments was when Chase, an experience shuttle pilot, uses her knowledge of zero-g and her piloting skill to narrowly avoid death using only inertia.
Thes book remind me of a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones thrown into a sci-fi setting. (A mystery story set in the future, with an antiquities dealer as the main protagonist.) In this universe the human race has been in space for about 20,000 years. In that time many ships, colonies and valuable items have gone missing. Alex Benedict, with the help of Chase Kolpath, specializes in finding missing and valuable items.
Seeker is the story of Margolia, a lost colony that disappeared long ago and has become a legend much like modern day Atlantis. One of the interesting concepts in the book, and McDevitt's writing, is the use of computer generated avatars of long dead people that are recreated through what is left behind and known of the person. In this case, Harry Williams the founder of the lost colony is used to help with the search. While he does not know where the colony is, or what happened to it, the avatar allows Benedict and Kolpath to get some unique perspectives on the colony and its foundation. In the end the avatar becomes a very sympathetic character.
This is a fun, quick book offers many twist and turns with a very satisfactory ending. Although it is the third book in Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict series, these books can be read completely independent of each other.
3.5 stars. Pretty good. Along the way I was wishing for more action, like in Engines of God, but the ending is really good. McDevitt has an above average amount of humanity in his books, and that kept me going.
2 April 2007 - ****. This is the third in a series of related novels, after A Talent for War, and Polaris. The earlier stories are mentioned briefly in this one, but it does not depend on them in any way.
This is a character and plot-driven science mystery set in a future not too different from our own times, except with FTL space travel. Chase Kolpath and Alex Benedict pursue leads to find saleable artifacts from the lost colony ship Seeker, and the lost colony planet of Margolia. Alex runs the 2-person artifact business, and Chase is his pilot - and this story, like Polaris, is told from Chase's constantly opinionated point of view. The plotting and tension are intense, as I have come to expect from McDevitt, right up to the last chapter.
I read all three books of this series in quick succession. Seeker is a fun and engaging book, and while it is better than Polaris, I feel that I had to work the hardest with A Talent For War, and it sticks with me the best of the series.
Great intro for #3 and loved the end. While parts of the middle were flat in parts, most of it was necessary to lead towards the end. I think the aspects that my fellow Buddy Readers and I do not appreciate are the detailed elements that do not add much to the characters or plot. Though, I can argue that all of those little details do add to the setting.
_Seeker_ is essentially a mystery novel set in the far, far future. How far into the future? In this setting, humanity has been out among the stars for an astounding 15,000 years. Empires rose and fell, new religions, languages, and civilizations came and went. Dark Ages and Renaissances and new Dark Ages (three different ones apparently) have happened, with humanity on different worlds alternately turning towards the stars and then away from them for decades, centuries, millennia. Author Jack McDevitt does an outstanding job in this book of portraying a sense of the great depths of time, giving the reader a real feeling of just how much civilization has changed over the many centuries since humans initially left Earth. Extinct empires, dynasties, and great historical figures that are for us in the unimaginably distant future are for the people in this setting more distant to them than the Pyramids are to us.
The main characters in this book are two antiquarians, treasure hunters basically, the famed antiquities dealer Alex Benedict and his very capable assistant Chase Kolpath (in fact the book is written from her point of view). Benedict and Kolpath make their living finding artifacts from long dead empires, failed colonies, famous ship disasters, and the like, buying and selling items to private collectors mostly. They also do a lot of legwork to uncover where a derelict ship or centuries forgotten base might be, lost among the stars, journeying there themselves at often some personal risk, hoping that frustratingly fragmentary clues pan out and that they beat treasure hunters that may gotten there centuries before.
Devastated that a long lost research colony was ransacked shortly before they got to it, apparently by one of their competitors who somehow knew where Kolpath and Benedict were going, the two antiquities dealers are sitting around rather depressed when they get a call from a woman. Can she show them a strange cup she has; she thinks it is old, maybe worth something?
Calls like this are common and most of the items turn out to be junk or at least not worth very much. You never know though, so they agree to meet her. The item she has is indeed interesting, a cup emblazoned with an eagle and what they discern to be English writing. Borrowing the cup, they translate the writings and analyze its age. To their amazement, it turns out to be nine thousand years old and connected to a long lost, very famous ship, the _Seeker_. The _Seeker_ and another ship, the _Bremerhaven_, were connected with the first large-scale colonial exodus from Earth, way back in the 28th century. Research quickly showed that the two ships carried thousands of settlers from a then oppressive Earth to a colony world that was dubbed Margolia. Deliberately keeping the location safe from Earth, after several flights back and forth to Earth the colonists were never heard from again and the colony, after nine thousand years, had never been located.
Was this cup really from the _Seeker_? How did the woman come by it? Were there more of these artifacts? Did someone in fact know where the _Seeker_ might be or in fact where Margolia was?
What follows is a great mystery story, as Kolpath and Benedict follow many leads, interviewing people, investigating any clues that may lead them to the famed lost colony. The search takes them over much of the galaxy, including to some surprising places and is not without considerable personal danger to the two of them as it becomes clear that they have enemies, people who want Kolpath and Benedict dead. Who wants to kill them? Why do they want to kill them? There are several suspects and there is obviously a leak somewhere, but where? Is one of their trusted friends and colleagues secretly plotting against them or is there is a mole somewhere? Or both?
McDevitt did a good job with the mystery, the investigation of who was after them and where Margolia might be was riveting, and I really liked the sense of anticipation he built up about Margolia, of the many popular views held about the colony, all the popular speculation as to their ultimate fate, a blank slate that many scholars, writers, movie-producers, and even occultists and conspiracy theorists had imaginatively filled in. He did a wonderful job foreshadowing, hinting at how extraordinary a place might be, whether it was old Earth or non-human space, and then taking the reader there. The ending was fantastic as well, it did not disappoint.
For those of you who have read his Academy novels (I myself have read _Chindi_ and _Omega_ in that rather loosely connected series), this, the first book in the Alex Benedict series I have read (the third one published) has a decidedly different feel to it. It is also not in the same universe, so the mysteries of one setting remain with those particular novels. I would definitely read more in the series. The characters seem more distinct in this novel than the characters in the Academy novels, but then that may be in part because there are so many more characters in the Academy series
I've broken the unwritten golden rule; I didn't finish this book, and I'm writing a review anyway. All apologies. I just don't get it. I've only read a few of McDevitt's books, and while I've loved some, I can't seem to get into the Alex Benedict series. I barely made it through the previous entry, Polaris. But Seeker seemed to be a fan-favorite, so I figured major improvements must've taken place between novels. Nope. Here's the thing. I'm so far live the Academy (Priscilla Hutchins) series. Jack paints a picture of a lonely universe where we are mostly alone, save for the ruins of past alien civilization and statuesque monuments left behind by a long-lost starfaring species, along with a slow buildup of learning the mystery of what's become of them all. But Benedict's universe, despite being much farther in the future than Ms. Hutchins' timeline, is occasionally interesting, but mostly bland. As a reader and writer, I find that character is key. And I'm afraid Alex Benedict is among the most boring, underdeveloped characters in sci-fi. I don't mind that these books are (mostly) told in first-person from the point of view of Chase Kolpath, Alex's assistant. In fact, it gives it a sort of Holmes-like charm. The problem is Chase isn't much better. After a book and a half, I still feel I know nothing about her other than she's constantly being Alex's work horse. As for being an "Alex Benedict" novel, he's only graced our presence in a few chapters by the halfway point. McDevitt and Benedict have huge followings, so take my opinions with a grain (or a whole damned shaker) of salt. But after testing the waters with a couple of these books, I think I'm done with Alex, Chase, and their boring attempts to hunt down valuable artifacts.
This is book three of the Benedict series. All the Alex Benidict books are set about 10,000 years in the future. So when one of Benedict clients come to him with a cup that came from a colony ship lost 9,000 years ago Alex sits up and takes notice. How did the cup get back to the known worlds? Where was the 9,000 year old ship it came from? Did the ship make it to it's mysterious destination? Is there a colony there now? These are the question Alex and his partner have to answer.
How this book won a Nebula is beyond me. Recycled plot devices, predictable story and wooden characters that never seem real enough to empathize with. The critical thinking of the main actors is straight up laughable - I suppose your not left much of a choice though when your story has so many holes. First time I’ve been truly disappointed by a Nebula winner, hopefully this was just an outlier...
Ce troisième tome est toujours dans la même veine que les précédent et donc aussi sympa à lire et distrayant. Il a beau être le troisième tome, c'est le seul de la série qui a été traduit et il peut très bien être lu indépendamment des autres.
Le Seeker était l'un des deux vaisseaux qui ont amené les Margoliens vers leur colonie. A l'époque le monde n'était pas un bon endroit pour y vivre et toutes les autres tentatives de colonie précédentes avaient échoué. Mais ceux ci ont quand même tenté le coup parce qu'ils ne pouvaient plus vivre dans la terre dystopique de l'époque. Ils avaient sous disant trouvé la première planète parfaite, celle qui accueillerait les humains sans les rejeter. Mais les Margoliens ont disparu, en fait personne ne sait ou ils sont partis. Et au fil des 9000 années suivantes et malgré la colonisation de centaines de planètes dans la zone, ils n'ont jamais été retrouvés, morts ou vifs.
Du coup quand Chase et Alex se trouvent en possession d'un bol aux armes du Seeker il ne peuvent pas résister, même si il y a des chances que ce bol n'ai jamais vu l'intérieur du vaisseaux lui même ...
Nous sommes toujours dans une enquête archéologique dans le futur, nos héros qui sont vendeurs d'antiquités traquent les restes des civilisations perdues et tentent de résoudre les mystères de certaines.
Cette histoire fait tout de suite penser à l'Atlantis bien sur, une civilisation en avance sur son temps, qui a totalement disparu depuis 9000 ans ... Mais encore une fois finalement ce qui amène Chase et Alex sur la voie ce n'est pas les restes d'il y a 9000 ans, non. Car évidemment ils ne sont pas les seuls à les avoir recherchés dans les milliers d'années qui se sont écoulées depuis leur disparition. En fait ils font plus une enquête actuelle, pour savoir d’où provient le vase en question, quels ont été ses précédents propriétaire et en remontant le temps ainsi pour essayer de voir qui a bien pu trouver le Seeker et ne jamais en parler parce que si ça avait été le cas, ça aurait été la découverte du siècle ...
Pour s'aider ils utiliser des avatars. En fait un avatar est une personnalité recréée par une AI avec l'aide de toutes les informations qui existent sur la personne en question dans le réseau. Et du coup Chase et Alex font le voyage avec Harry Williams, le fondateur de la colonie perdue. L'avatar ne sait bien entendu pas les secrets qui n'existent pas dans les informations mais ils sont quand même capable de recréer une personnalité réelle de la personne et donc de voir si les informations qu'ils trouvent sont improbable ou peuvent vraiment s'être passé en fonction des réaction de l'avatar.
J'ai bien aimé aussi le fait que ça soit le premier tome de la série qui s'approche de notre temps. En effet, la colonie en question est censé avoir quitté la terre durant le troisième millénaire en 2600 environ, ce qui donne l'occasion de passer en revu ce qu'il c'est passé dans le monde avant et donc d'avoir de petits clin d’œils à notre époque. On nous raconte aussi que malgré toute la technologie, toute l'histoire humaine même après le départ vers les étoiles n'est qu'une succession de temps noirs ou l'humanité se renferme sur elle même et revient en arrière niveau mœurs et de temps d'évolution et d'exploration ou la liberté redevient primordiale. Comme quoi l'homme n'évolue jamais vraiment et retombe toujours dans ses vieux travers.
Et du coup c'était intéressant de voir Chase s’insurger sur le manque de liberté de l'époque ou sont partis les colons, Le monde ou vivent nos héros est en effet proche d'un utopie car tout semble être idéal, sans crime, sans manquement à la liberté ... Le contraste entre les deux est énorme.
Au final j'ai vraiment bien apprécié ma lecture. Je n'ai pas repéré de répétition par rapport aux tomes précédents, l'auteur n'a pas renouvelé l'erreur du tome précédent, ouf. Le rythme est bon, il n'y a pas de lenteur. C'est vrai que la série reste importante en infodump mais c'est logique vu le sujet, il y a plein de choses à expliquer et finalement l'auteur s'en sors bien en ne nous écrasant pas sous les informations. Du coup je n'ai pas trouvé de défaut à ce livre en particulier. Je sais que les gens n'ayant pas lu les tomes précédents trouvent que les personnages principaux manquent un peu de développement mais c'est logique vu que tout le premier tome est centré sur leur rencontre et leur background, et donc ici en effet on n'en parle pas du tout. Mais en dehors de ça ce tome peut très bien se lire indépendamment des autres. Il n'y a quasiment pas de référence aux tomes précédents, et même les personnages secondaire sont différents ce qui fait que rien ne gène sa lecture.
Une bonne lecture donc, l'auteur a su se renouvelle sans réitérer les erreurs des tomes précédents. Une histoire distrayante et fun qui a su me divertir.
McDevitt is, generally, one of our more reliable SF authors and his far-future “Alex Benedict” series is some of his best work. Alex is a dealer in antiquities out on Rimway, at the edge of human-inhabited space -- emphatically not an archaeologist, which gets him sneered at by the academics -- but he has a natural talent for uncovering long-lost artifacts and solving ancient mysteries. But keep in mind that these stories (this is the third one) are set 10,000 years in our future, so “ancient” to Alex might mean a millennium or two in our own future -- a perspective that can take some getting used to. That’s the case here when Alex comes across a drinking cup that apparently once belonged to a 24th-century ship hired to transplant settlers -- political refugees with money, actually -- from Old Earth to a new world that they were keeping secret. But they disappeared without trace and the purported colony is now semi-mythical, which is why the appearance of the cup is so mind-boggling.
As Alex and his assistant and pilot, Chase Kolpath (who is the narrator this time), get deeper into their researches, they become involved with apparent competitors who will stop at nothing to beat them to their goal, and Chase will also have to journey to the part of space inhabited by the “Mutes,” a telepathic alien species of roughly the same technological level as humans, and the only other intelligent species either of them has ever found. All of which gives the author a chance to show off his worldbuilding skills, which are considerable.
I really have only one relatively minor complaint about this series, and that concerns the fact that people and human culture seem to have changed so little in a hundred centuries. English has been a dead language for more than 5,000 years -- but the protagonist has a very 20th-century name, as do all the other human characters. Some tech is very advanced, with ubiquitous AIs and the use of “avatars,” artificial constructs of the dead, which is as close as one can come to time travel. And yet, people go out on wooden skis and get killed by random avalanches, and they go to restaurants with human waiters and drink lager beer. It’s just kind of jarring, especially when you compare that world to the far more “futuristic” worlds of authors like Peter F. Hamilton, which are set only a couple of centuries from now.
This is McDevitt's third Alex Benedict science fiction mystery novel, featuring Benedict the antiquities dealer and Agnes "Chase" Kolpath, his only employee who is an interstellar pilot and the science brain of the partnership. The Benedict novels are set thousands of years in the future. Alex's company, Rainbow Enterprises, is in the business of finding and selling of ancient historical artifacts.
In Seeker, Alex and Chase come across a cup from the starship "Seeker" which was connected to a colony which mysteriously disappeared. Compounding the mystery was that the cup was found by a couple who later died in an natural disaster, and the location of the missing starship and colony presumably died with them. The plot follows pretty much the same formula as his prior two Alex Benedict mystery novels: sleuthing - neat discovery, sleuthing - neat discovery, sleuthing - neat discovery, and finally mind-blowing climactic reveal. Throw in some cool technology and some space-related danger and you have an entertaining novel.
My only complaint is that these novels take place thousands of years of years in the future but the characters and their activities seem too contemporary. They watch TV, go to bars and out to eat in normal restaurants, and do other things that make it seem like the novel is taking place in the near future.
Like McDevitt's other Alex Benedict novels, and all of his other novels I've read, this one was entertaining and page-turning. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Alex Benedict novels and finishing up the last two Academy novels.
2.5 stars. I’m not a mystery reader, and here I was reminded why. While it was somewhat engaging, I was always thinking, what’s the point? Let’s skip the dead ends and tiny leads and cut to the chase! The ending was fine but left me a little unsatisfied, as I felt it could have been imbued with a much stronger sense of wonder. I didn’t care for the setting of the book, though the alien section was cool.
It was ok but nothing in this book really needs to be scifi, it could be set in any time from the past to now. Just a detective story that happens to occur 10,000+ years in the future (although there is little that seems much different from now besides instantaneous FTL travel). Surprised to find out this was an award winner. Some of his other books are much better. 2 Brown Dwarf Stars
2006 Nebula Award winning book. And it was OK. The story moves along reasonably well. But I was hoping for something like Asimov or Clarke and it just wasn't there. Too many details and not enough big ideas for me. Still, a fun read.
Seeker is actually the third book in Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict series, but I picked up "A Talent for War" (book 1) some time ago and couldn't build any interest before putting it down and my library didn't have "Polaris" (book 2), so when the urge took me to give McDevitt another shot, Seeker is where my attention landed. Anyway, the basic premise is that protagonist Alex Hunter and his assistant/narrator Chase are antiquarians (grave robbers if you prefer) in the far future (ca. 10,000 A.D. (C.E., whatever)) and make their living by hunting down artifacts with special history and selling them to the highest bidder. Of course, the better the story behind the artifact (and the more unique), the better the price. The world they inhabit reminded me a lot of the universes of Jack Vance (Demon Princes) and Matthew Hughes (Hengist Hapthorn). Not so much because of their themes of Earth on the brink of destruction (much less their near-magical technology), but the musty feel of a universe that's had a LOT of living and dying done in it, where mankind has risen and fallen on countless worlds through many dark ages and renaissances. In Seeker, Alex and Chase are presented with a cup which turns out to be the only known artifact ever recovered from the "Seeker" a 27th century interstellar colony ship belonging to a group that fled from an oppressive totalitarian regime in North America to a secret world known as Margolia and was never heard from again, a legend that (to the people of Alex and Chase's time) has taken on the aspects of Atlantis, a lost world populated by a colony of dreamers. Working from the scanty clues available to them, they gradually piece together the fate of Margolia and its colonists while dodging the efforts of their rivals and archaeologists outraged at their "pillaging". Seeker's greatest strength is the mystery of the Seeker and of Margolia, it's an interesting problem and Jack McDevitt explores every side of the legend and the means by which his protagonists solve the dilemma is neither too clever nor too simplistic. Likewise, I enjoyed the realistic quality of McDevitt's universe, it isn't a terribly dynamic place (unlike, say, David Weber's writing), the aliens are hideous and telepathic but a lot like us otherwise, and the technology isn't really that flashy but it has (as a I noted above) a lived-in feel that makes the characters and mystery the more believable. I have mixed feelings about the characters, Alex and Chase are both interesting and have large-as-life personalities, but most of the rest of the characters are completely utilitarian, filling holes in the story as useful assistants (or appropriately unlikeable antagonists; oddly, McDevitt's weakest moments are the action scenes, which feel out of place in the otherwise sedate pacing of the story) and then getting out of the way without much lasting impact. The best thing I can say is that at times, McDevitt's protagonists' personalities and methodology reminded me of Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter or of Margery Allingham's Campion and Lugg, but the feeling never lasted. All in all, I found Seeker to be an enjoyable book (enough so that I'll probably check out some more of Jack McDevitt's work), but it is undeniably a slow and rather academic sort of mystery novel, so don't go in expecting Indiana Jones (or Philip Marlowe) in Space.
A decent novel by Jack McDevitt, won a Nebula and all that. But what about the story?
This is an Alex Benedict novel, the second in a series, which I started first. Yeah, that’s me. I completed the Hutch series of books and wanted to continue with McDevitt in a similar universe, but 9,000 years later, when space travel is easy and “warping” (my word) to distant places is as easy as taking a boat across the Atlantic.
Plots and Contrivances:
Benedict is a treasure hunter and with his aide Chase, find archeological artifacts and then put them up for auction and use that money for further exploration. They consider they are explorers and if they didn’t put the stuff out for people to see, it would rot in an alien cave or be undisturbed or unknown for thousands of years. Can’t have that!
Some admire the team. Others hate them and call them “grave robbers” which is the main impetus of the tale.
Someone knows of Benedict’s expeditions. Someone looted an area that he had already discovered. Further, someone is trying to kill him and Chase!
But I digress.
The book starts with a man who is crushed under an avalanche and regrets it, since he made an amazing discovery, a major archeological find, and now he is going to die under tons of ice and snow, hoping against hope that someone finds what he found out.
Through pure luck, someone walks into Benedict’s offices and presents a cup that has no previous history. It’s from her ex, who is a robber, whose ex’s father (who has since been mindwiped and not a criminal anymore) had stolen the cup from a rich family, who happens to be related to the guy who was buried under the snow at the start of the story.
And someone is trying to kill Benedict and Chase to prevent them from further discovery as they trace the cup through some pretty unusual and frankly crazy coincidences.
The girl who brought in the cup, not really smart and not bright in the ways of romance. Chase helps but ends up getting hurt in the process. The girl is not much of a character.
The adventure to the Mutes, the only other civilization they know of, that is a race of telepaths. Chase has a fun time with them – NOT.
The whole AI (artificial intelligence) angle, enjoyable.
The ending (no spoilers!) really wraps things up nicely and I was somewhat surprised who the true antagonist was.
Moral judgment and radical terrorism in the vein of archeology and grave-robbing, as well as civilizations old and new pepper this novel. Sometimes convoluted, but a fun read overall.
Still, not as good as his Hutch novels – so far.
On to “Polaris” (the first in the Alex Benedict series).