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Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack McDevitt Hardcover – 27 Feb 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 590 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; 1 edition (27 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596061952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596061958
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 5.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,928,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jun 2011
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Jack McDevitt's previous book of short stories, Standard Candles, because it captured a similar range of subjects and style as his novel-length fiction. The thirty-eight stories in this volume provide much the same experience. Many deal with familiar McDevitt themes such the rediscovery of space travel, whether humanity is alone in the universe, and the emotional consequences of scientific discovery. Some are startling and brilliant; only a few disappoint.

My seven favorites are described below.

"In the Tower" follows the grieving lover of a dead artist as she investigates his former life, friends and paintings for clues about his terminal unhappiness. The story she uncovers invades the heart and mind with Lovecraftian horror.

"Dutchman" takes us on board an abandoned Dellacondan starship thought to have been destroyed in battle long ago. Hugh Scott and the captain of the Tenandrome make discoveries that play a central role in McDevitt's novel A Talent For War. There are some spoilers...

In "Promises to Keep" a member of an historic expedition to Callisto shares personal recollections of the voyage and the voyagers. His story is a little different from the official version.

"Report From the Rear" shows the kind of reporting necessary to cover a fast-breaking war and get the story told on time. And the material this process produces.

In "Black to Move" we land on the first living world Earth's explorers have ever found and contemplate the empty city left by its former inhabitants.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Short Hops Through McDevitt Space 19 Nov 2010
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Jack McDevitt's previous book of short stories, Standard Candles, because it captured a similar range of subjects and style as his novel-length fiction. The thirty-eight stories in this volume provide much the same experience. Many deal with familiar McDevitt themes such the rediscovery of space travel, whether humanity is alone in the universe, and the emotional consequences of scientific discovery. Some are startling and brilliant; only a few disappoint.

My seven favorites are described below.

"In the Tower" follows the grieving lover of a dead artist as she investigates his former life, friends and paintings for clues about his terminal unhappiness. The story she uncovers invades the heart and mind with Lovecraftian horror.

"Dutchman" takes us on board an abandoned Dellacondan starship thought to have been destroyed in battle long ago. Hugh Scott and the captain of the Tenandrome make discoveries that play a central role in McDevitt's novel A Talent For War. There are some spoilers...

In "Promises to Keep" a member of an historic expedition to Callisto shares personal recollections of the voyage and the voyagers. His story is a little different from the official version.

"Report From the Rear" shows the kind of reporting necessary to cover a fast-breaking war and get the story told on time. And the material this process produces.

In "Black to Move" we land on the first living world Earth's explorers have ever found and contemplate the empty city left by its former inhabitants. A first contact specialist uses a chess-like game to understand their psychology--and perhaps their intentions.

"Gus" is a departure from McDevitt's often less-than-friendly treatment of religion. Monsignor Chesley disapproves of the seminary's AI simulation of Saint Augustine. After many long evenings of private discussion, Chesley begins to have doubts. As does St. Augustine.

"Cruising Through Deuteronomy" raises questions about a time traveler's faith in his technology, in important events of the past, and in those around him.

McDevitt fans should read this collection to enjoy their author's storytelling in its briefer form and for the added perspective on McDevitt's novels. The novella version of "Time Travelers Never Die," for example, is differs interestingly--and is superior to--the Time Travelers Never Die novel. The book is a good place to make first contact with this author, too. And discover that you are not alone.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Worth every penny. 19 Oct 2012
By Kerry Nietz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I've been a Jack McDevitt fan for some time now. I've read many of his novels, and at least one earlier collection of his short stories. So I couldn't resist this collection when I saw it was available. (And at under 5 bucks to boot!)

"Cryptic" has nearly forty stories, covering everything from time travel to space exploration to galactic conflict. Some of the stories, like "The Fort Moxi Branch" and "Auld Lang Boom" have a genuine Bradbury feel, while others, like "Lighthouse" and "Melville on Iapetus" are reminiscent of something Clarke might write.

Really, there is a lot to enjoy her for fan and newcomer alike. My personal favorites are the previous mentioned "Melville" (about a space relic), "Gus" (about a very special painting), "Kiminsky at War" (a scientist who gets a little too involved), and "Time Travelers Never Die" (an excellent time travel tale).

A caveat to the reader: McDevitt's universe is arguably a lonely one, where aliens are few, space is vast and dangerous, and even God is impersonal and uninvolved. Within that structure, though, he crafts wonderfully executed tales.

This is a great collection. Worth every penny.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent assortment of themes, excellent treatment byd Mr. McDevitt 20 Dec 2013
By Anthony C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This short fiction is excellent, in my opinion, just as good has his "Standard Candles." I have enjoyed all of Mr. McDevitt's work, beginning with "A Talent for War." Any offering by him is an instant buy for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So happy I read this 1 Nov 2013
By Mrs. P. J. Singleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I only like 3 authors of sci-fi that has to do with space travel. JACK McDEVITT, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Anne McCaffrey. Their writing is believable and makes me wish I lived in their world's. KRENTZ,S for the dust bunnies, McCaffrey"s for the dragons and designers, and McDEVITT"s for the great characters.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good read 31 Oct 2013
By Thomas Brakel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can never get enough of Jack McDevitt. This collection of short stories includes some new to me as well as some familiar ones.
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