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Ancient Shores

(Ancient Shores #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,237 ratings  ·  184 reviews
It turned up in a North Dakota wheat field: a triangle, like a shark's fin, sticking up from the black loam. Tom Lasker did what any farmer would have done. He dug it up. And discovered a boat, made of a fiberglass-like material with an utterly impossible atomic number. What it was doing buried under a dozen feet of prairie soil two thousand miles from any ocean, no one kn ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 23rd 1996 by EOS (an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) (first published April 1st 1996)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,237 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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Peter Tillman
A 1996 McDevitt that I’m just getting around to reading. Despite some clunky stuff, I got really caught up in the book. One of his strengths is portraying technical people at work, here including a chemist and some old-plane enthusiasts. One of the clunks is, the unobtanium for the mysterious yacht (read the intro material) is an unknown transuranic element. High-transuranics are a pretty unlikely material for long-lasting textiles, let alone building material — but leave that be. Another clunk ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Solid McDevitt read, though with a few annoying fourth-wall-breaking narrarator asides that are probably the result of sloppy editing. Also, the typical McDevitt open ending resolves so little as to be annoying. At least the Indian characters (including a lawyer!) are presented intelligently and non-stereotypically.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
Enjoyed this one a lot. McDevitt has some fun with characters and tells a thoughtful tale of alien artifacts found in North Dakota. 3 Stars
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it
*May contain spoilers*

This is the third McDevitt book I have read, and it is my least favorite. I've found McDevitt to be a creative writer, usually presenting interesting ideas in a well thought out manner, and this book is no exception, although this story focused more on human reactions to the situations presented in the book rather than the more interesting science-fiction aspects.

I found it difficult to care or relate to most of the characters, and some of the situations discussed seemed "
Toby Udstuen
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a stand alone book written by Jack McDevitt. I LOVE THIS BOOK!! When I was a teenager this was the first McDevitt book I had ever read and have since read everything he has ever published. I love the guy. Ancient Shores is a great read for both adults and young readers. If you go to the Jack McDevitt website he explains the town which was the inspiration for this book really interesting stuff.

Ancient Shores is about a farmer who finds a shark fin shaped metal stinking out of his farmlan
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
written in 1996, "Ancient Shores" is eerily relevant to today's economic crisis, albeit for different reasons. in McDevitt's epic novel, the economy turns chaotic because of newly unearthed extraterrestrial technology that doesn't decay or wear out (thus throwing industries into free-fall for fear of not being able to compete with new scientific advances).

yet, the public response in this science-fiction scenario is so indicative of humanity's fear of the unknown--the most popular reaction is to
Patrick Gibson
Nov 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Who hasn’t dreamed of digging up something mysterious in the back yard? Especially something deemed otherworldly. As some commentators indicated, this novel asks more questions than provides answers. Get used to it. This is the authors style, and as frustrating as that can be—isn’t science, math, even life, like that? Once you surrender to this authors flight of imagination and concerneth not your relieth on plot (Plot? What is that?) this is a descent read. Go with the flow and don’t worry if t ...more
This is very thought-provoking, and I found myself lingering over it. There's a lot about how human institutions fear change and seek to stamp out something that will have a big effect on the status quo, particularly about how technology does this. Since the US is currently struggling with the change to an economy based on creating ideas and dealing with information rather than manufactured goods, I found this especially interesting. Highly recommended. ...more
May 25, 2010 rated it liked it
All I can say is wow. This book is light on the sci-fi and deals more directly with the larger questions. What if stories are fun if done correctly and this book is no exception. This writing is very crisp and easy to follow the storyline. A good well-rounded tale. =)
Sep 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Mediocre first contact novel.
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on my blog, SpecFic Junkie.

Jack McDevitt takes a pretty stock standard science fiction trope and manages to make something bigger than expected out of it. Ancient Shores teems with deep, realistic characters, and a harrowing, yet optimistic look at how humanity reacts to fear.

Ancient Shores starts off with the premise of about a billion other science fiction works: a farmer finds something out of the ordinary on his land. In this case, it was a fully buried yacht, a yacht we qu
Lexxi Kitty
I don’t really do re-reads. There are so many stories out there to be read, so much to ingest, to devour. Re-reads, even of past favorites, take time away from that further expansion of the pleasure zone of the mind (I’d have left it to ‘expansion of the mind’, but I read more for pleasure than anything else).

And yet . . . here I am, having finished a re-read of ‘Ancient Shores’. By an author who I kind of stuck onto my ‘favorite’ list then onto my ‘annoyed me’ list (in this authors specific cas
Keith West
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jack McDevitt has long been one of my favorite science fiction writers. In addition to his clean prose and in-depth characterizations, his novels tend to have an element of mystery. I think to a large extent that’s what I like about his work.

Still, McDevitt is prolific enough that I haven’t read all of his work. Until recently, Ancient Shores fell into this category. When I found out that this year’s novel (McDevitt typically has a new release in either November or December each year) was the se
James Mourgos
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
"Stargate" Lite!

First Impressions:

I’ve read Jack’s “The Odyssey” and was mildly entertained. With that, I decided to explore his earlier novels including the stand-alone book Ancient Shores. A decent tale, but goes off on too many tangents to follow. Ending seemed rushed.

Story & Plot:

I enjoyed the build-up of the character Max, a man who was good with antique airplanes, had a military family history but shunned that route, deciding instead to restore old aircraft. The book makes a big deal of a
Lisa Hapney
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I feel I have to give this book at least 4 stars even though it was a little slow for my taste at times. I say this because it prompted me to head back to the book store the following week to see what else Mr. McDevitt had written as I liked the overall flavor of the storytelling. Any book that leads you to buy another just to see what the author’s work is about has done it’s job and at least deserves 4 stars.

In this story what initially begins as a strange discovery turns into an all out archae
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this book many years ago but I decided to read it again because after nearly 20 years the sequel, Thunderbird, has come out and I am going to read it next. I wanted the first book fresh in my mind and it was a very good read. In this one an ancient structure is unearthed on an Indian reservation and it is found to be a portal to several different worlds. It has been unused and buried for over 10,000 years but it shows no sign of decay and still has a functioning power source. This book te ...more
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is one of McDevitt's first novels, and possibly his least well-known. It's aged less well than his other work, because there are quite a few references to people and technologies that are nearly twenty years out of date; it's mentioned that Whitney Houston is rumored to being cast to star in a film about one of the main characters, the security system employs VCR tapes, Carl Sagan is a character, etc. I suspect the book may have been overlooked to some extent when it was published because o ...more
Jack Burnett
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
McDevitt's talent for imagining intriguing scenarios, asking what would hapen if... ?, and then fleshing out what interesting people would do if is I think unmatched today in science fiction. Ancient Shores is an engrossing book, without hardly any explosions or magic handwavium sci-fi plot helpers. It's ending is abrupt and ultimately unsatisfying enough to cost the book a star, but it's nothing that will ruin the experience of having read an accomplished storyteller with a bright and keen imag ...more
Dan Donovan
Jul 18, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Interesting premise, louse writing. If the author was actually a writer this could have been an interesting story. Reminds me of an Amazon free book but not worth even that price.
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The theme has been handled before but this was entertaining and kept me gripped throughout...
Jan 14, 2012 marked it as to-read
Stephen King likes it.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Archeological sci-fi speculating on bridges to other worlds/dimensions.
Aug 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
I like most of Jack McDevitt's work - but this is a tedious read. ...more
Jason Golomb
Originally posted at

Fort Moxie lent itself to timelessness. There were no major renovation projects, no vast cultural shifts imposed by changing technology, no influxes of strangers, no social engineering. The town and the broad prairie in which it rested were caught in a kind of time warp.

A farmer works his land in the far reaches of North Dakota – just a few miles away from the Canadian border. Something pokes from the flat lands that he calls home. He lives in a large b
Rob Hopwood
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt

This 1996 novel by Jack McDevitt is an epic story of big ideas. The premise immediately captured my imagination. An alien artifact is found buried in North Dakota, and provides a clue which prompts the protagonists to excavate in another area where they uncover a portal leading to alien worlds. The first half of the book recounts the discovery and subsequent use of the portal and is permeated by a compelling sense of wonder, while at the same time being firmly gro
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, starting to re-read some of my old McDevitt stuff. This made sense as a starting point since I've not yet read Thunderbird, which is a sequel that came out in 2015. This book dates to mid 90's, and sadly I couldn't remember a damn thing about it--so much for my memory, right? Premise is artifact shows up on Tom's farm in Minnesota. Leads to discovery of a building on Sioux lands tied to the artifact (boat). In the building are portals to other places in the universe. Very exciting, but the i ...more
B.  Barron
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
The idea of a gateway to the stars is not new - that is no slam, there are no new ideas under the suns. Anyway he is lite on the science, and that's fine - its a mystery and no one knows what it is or how it works.
It excels in the wider implications. The real story is how people and nations react when it becomes apparent they have something wondrous - and I hate to say it but the fear and paranoia and reactionary idea to destroy the new are probably spot-on.
The ending was pretty cool, though I t
Dale Russell
Space Travel, at the moment, is problematic. The velocities needed to travel to worlds inside and outside our small, secluded group of planets is prohibitive at best and impossible at worst. So...what would happen if a way was found to circumvent all the physics and take us out and beyond. And, what if that discovery was made by a small community of people...AND...what would you think the government - and others - would do to get control of that discovery. What would YOU do to keep control of wh ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a "first contact" story, I give it a lot of credit for the suspenseful gradually-revealed plot-line. There are not many books that I've had a hard time putting down, but this was one of them. There are other little bits that I enjoyed, including the poetic quotations at the beginning of each chapter (especially those by a fictitious poet) and the Deus Ex Machina ending. (I suspect there are people who won't like the way it was resolved, but I liked it. ) The point of the novel, i.e. what woul ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-books
This book was like a "wave" at a football game. You know the one where people stand up in turn waving their arms around and it gives the effect that the stadium is an ocean? Yeah. That. Let me explain the analogy.

Well you probably got that it was up and down with the suspense, drama and general kickassery of the story. It was indeed. The gait would pick up and get me real interested, then it would slow back down and even bog down with unnecessary character introductions and irrelevant loose ends
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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 Internation ...more

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Ancient Shores (2 books)
  • Thunderbird (Ancient Shores #2)

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