Chindi (Academy - Book 3) Paperback – 12 Sep 2013
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Jack McDevitt is that splendid rarity, a writer who is a storyteller first and a science fiction writer second. In his ability to absolutely rivet the reader, it seems to me that he is the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark (Stephen King)
McDevitt will grab you by the throat of your curiosity and keep a firm hold until the final chapter (Science Fiction Chronicle)
McDevitt continues his lovingly detailed exploration of interstellar reconnaissance and alien contact ... this one is really quite splendid (Booklist)
Hutch is one of the most formidable - and credible - heroines in contemporary SF. Both she and McDevitt are at the top of their respective forms ... Chindi is one of his very best (Locus)
A Nebula Award finalist for Best Novel from the multi-award winning SF master Jack McDevitt. Third in the acclaimed Academy series.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
These are a few remarks which don't really matter that much in the overall story. The one thing which does appear to be the case in all of the Academy books so far is 1. some sort of disatser befalls the crew or passengers of a give ship, 2. Hutch is sent in or takes part in the disaster, 3. almost all alien contact is of a more primitive form, usually a voracious predator, herbivores almost never play any role in threatening anyone even though on earth for example they can be extremely dangerous e.g. hippos, elephants, rhinos, 4. even the intelligent aliens appear to be equipped with talons, sharp teeth or fangs, surely there must be a few non-violent civilisations out there. In addition, the humans in the stories appear to possess no military ships and very little in the way of proper protocol when sending ships to investigate potential alien contact. The fact that no weapons are carried is very surprising indeed. I find it hard to believe that huma civilisation has in fact become more advanced in this sense in the space of a couple of centuries.
It would be good if there was more personality and intimacy with the main character who always appear to be rather distant to the reader. Nonethless a very enjoyable tale.
Superstar Academy pilot Priscilla 'Hutch' Hutchins is off into the galaxy again, this time on an apparently wild goose chase looking for intelligent life. Naturally, disaster strikes and intrigue builds up but none of it really goes anywhere, leaving the book with way more questions than answers. Even worse, some of McDevitt's character and plotting habits really grate in this book. The people off on these adventures are not astronauts, scientists or really in any way qualified, they are just wealthy (actors, businessmen, artists, funeral directors(!)). This is a frequent theme in the Academy novels and although not trained in any way for space exploration, they are extraordinarily capable and brave. It just doesn't ring true.
Towards the end there is a complicated mission involving said non-astronauts plus post-grad students and volunteers which beggars belief so much it creates some unintentional laughs.
I understand the invention of the Flickinger field to easily enable humans to operate anywhere, but the fact that characters wear over-casual clothing underneath seems silly (e.g. space walking in shorts and shirt). Plus, with all of humanity's many years of exploration and experience, why are potentially hazardous deep space missions taking place with ONE pilot and no other technical crew other than an (overly stylised) AI?
The first half of the book builds up to some ET contact and comes across interesting but frustratingly scantily-described worlds. Then the Chindi of the title turns up and the pace drops to a slow walk. This makes the latter part of the book very hard going and although I stuck with it, the ending was ultimately frustrating and somewhat rushed.
I love McDevitt's description of the vastness of space and just how much time it takes for interstellar events to occur, it's fascinating and realistic, really making you appreciate how little humans have been around. But when the book starts to ape this long drawn out timeframe, it's not a good thing for the reader.
For the first time, Hutch also becomes slightly irritating and I hope her character goes through something of a reinvention in the rest of the series.
Chindi is probably worth a read if you have to cover the whole Academy saga, but it isn't as interesting as other books in the series, which share some of the same flaws but are easily more exciting reads.