Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jack McDevitt

Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer, and motivational trainer. Many of his works--Infinity Beach, Ancient Shores, “Time Travelers Never Die,” Moonfall, “Good Intentions” (cowritten with Stanley Schmidt), “Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City,” Chindi, Omega, and Polaris, "Henry James, This One's for You," and Seeker--have been Nebula Award finalists.

His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the celebrated Ace Specials series, and won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. In 1991, he 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. Omega received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel, 2003.

His recent works include The Devil's Eye, an Alex Benedict mystery, and Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack McDevitt.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Bleak House. The first Dickens novel I've had trouble with. The fact that I keep getting sidetracked will probably say all that needs to be said. It's a commentary on the Brit judicial system, which eats up enormous amounts of money while going in circles, impoverishing the claimants and, of course, taking care of the lawyers. Major characters are not as sharp as we usually get from Dickens, and the book feels as long as War and Peace.

The Republican War on Science, by Chris Mooney. Republicans have a long history of sacrificing honest science for political benefit. But the George W. Bush administration comes in for particular attention: environmental problems, stem cell lines, creation science, and a host of other issues. Mooney includes details on silencing government scientists and distorting their findings.

And, finally, Blasphemy, by Douglas Preston. This is the one I've been reading on my stationary bike during workouts, the last part of my daily physical routine, a twenty-minute ride to nowhere. Blasphemy actually has me looking forward to pumping the pedals. Religious extremists and angry Navajos take exception to a supercollider in Arizona, which, with luck, may reveal what brought on the Big Bang. But the scientists are keeping something quiet. An investigator arrives to find out what's going on. I'm almost halfway through, and got my first real indication today. Almost fell off my bike.
Visit Jack McDevitt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue