Sunday, November 6, 2011

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.

McDevitt's new novel is Firebird.

Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve just finished Jack Miles’s God: A Biography. Miles, a former Jesuit, attempts to analyze God as a purely literary character, and of course the protagonist of the Old Testament. I’ll confess I’d thought I knew the Old Testament pretty well, but some aspects of the book are, to put it mildly, unsettling. We get a portrait of a Being with absolute power who is unpredictable, and may not always be sure what He’s doing.

Another thoroughly enjoyable book was Steven Weinberg’s Dreams of a Final Theory. Weinberg may be the only physicist who can write about the subject in comprehensible language.

I’m currently reading John Thorn’s Baseball in the Garden of Eden, which is a history of the game. I was surprised to discover, again, that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. I was aware that they used to put base runners out by throwing the ball at them, but I wasn’t aware that some incarnations of the game used four and five bases. And of course, when the game was put together, Abner Doubleday was nowhere in sight.

David Brooks’s The Social Animal is being read by my book club. It’s an intriguing exploration of what makes us human.

And I’m just starting Will McIntosh’s Soft Apocalypse. Will is near the beginning of his career, but judging from what I’ve seen so far, he should have a long ride. And he’s already won a Hugo.
Visit Jack McDevitt's website.

Writers Read: Jack McDevitt (February 2009).

The Page 69 Test: Firebird.

--Marshal Zeringue