Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review: Cryptic by Jack McDevitt

Jack McDevitt
Subterranean Press
592 pages Limited Trade Hardcover

I was really excited when I received Jack McDevitt's new collection of stories titled Cryptic from Subterranean Press. It's no mystery that I am a serious McDevitt fan. Jack was one of the first authors that I approached for stories when I started doing Beam Me Up on WRFR. One of the first stories I did was the wonderful heart breaking story "Promises to Keep". What makes the story work is that everything is a struggle as it would be in real life. The equipment is aging, the mission is underfunded, there is little public support and everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The characters in this story are so three dimensional and their motivation is so believable that your easily and quickly drawn into the story. This story alone makes the book worthwhile. The next story that caught my eye for reading was "Report From the Rear" a caustic and telling yarn that puts a wild spin on wagging the dog idea. When the need for up to date news outstrips the ability to obtain it in a timely fashion. Then I found "Tyger" which plays with reality, creation and just about everything else you think is "real". And the final story that I read on Beam Me Up from this collection is the award nominated "Henry James, this ones for you" asks the question what would happen if a programmer managed to pull of the stunt of a program that writes award winning works?

What you soon find out about Jack McDevitt is that he is a master at creating believable characters. What's more is the fact that Jack is willing and prepared to torture his creations to failure while you watch and makes it impossible to look away. In Promises, everyone is flawed, everyone has an agenda but in the end you feel like you've been gut punched. I couldn't get this story or the characters out of my head for years....I actually found myself thinking "How long can she hold out?"

If the rest of the book was slock and the only good stories were these....It would be worth the money. And you know that the rest of the book is every bit as good as the stories I mentioned. So that makes it a great value.

Cryptic is well worth checking out, beg, borrow, buy or well we won't go there...but yeah, you really will enjoy this book...very very much.

Cryptic Subterranean Press

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