This review was first published by Booklist on March 15, 2018.
Priscilla Hutchins is the captain of an interstellar crew sent to explore the origin of a mysterious signal from another planet. But there’s resistance to the mission, as many believe continued interstellar exploration has become too dangerous. Hutch takes off despite opposition and embarks upon a journey that will lead her to discover new artifacts, alien life, and a looming celestial apocalypse. But this isn’t an adventure story; it’s a story focused mostly on people and how we relate to one another. McDevitt (Time Travelers Never Die, 2009) offers a unique take on aliens and how civilizations might arise on other planets, an unexpected and interesting choice in the realm of space-based science fiction. The active conflict of the story is political; unfortunately, McDevitt doesn’t delve as deeply into this aspect of the story as he could. But his unique vision, the way his imagination plays across a galactic stage, and the inherent tension of an unavoidable disaster make up for it. He also introduces important new elements into his ongoing Academy series, making this a worthy read.