Jack McDevitt has been a Sherlock Holmes fan since he was a teenager, although he reports that Holmes-style mysteries, whodunits, are not his favorite style. Jack encountered Gilbert Chesterton’s Father Brown tales a few years later and they ultimately became the prime influence in his science fiction. The issue with Father Brown was never a question of who committed the murder, but rather what in heaven’s name is going on here?
Why does an astronaut, in “Cathedral,” sacrifice her life to collide with an asteroid that she knows poses no threat to the Earth? Why does a scientist who’s designed an actual working AI in “The Play’s the Thing,” hide what’s he’s done? How is it that the lives of two people working at Moonbase in “Blinker” depend on a quasar?
In “Lucy,” Jack shows us why sending automated vehicles to explore the distant outposts of the solar system may not be a good idea. And in “Searching for Oz,” an alternate history story, how things might have been if SETI had gotten what it was looking for. He describes our reaction in “Listen Up, Nitwits,” when a voice begins speaking to us, apparently from Jupiter, in Greek. And in “The Lost Equation,” a Holmes adventure, we discover who really was first to arrive at e=mc2.
Jack also provides two episodes, “Maiden Voyage” and “Waiting At the Altar,” from Priscilla Hutchins’ qualification flight; and an effort by a sixteen-year-old Alex Benedict, in the title story with his uncle Gabe and Chase Kolpath’s mom, Tori, who are trying to understand why a brilliant radio entertainer, lost in the stars when his drive unit suffered a malfunction, never said goodbye.
These and fourteen other rides into odd places await the reader.
From Publishers Weekly:
“Fans of classic science fiction will enjoy this collection of 24 short stories that cover familiar genre themes such as the search for alien life and the implications of time travel in plain but effective prose. McDevitt, best known for his Alex Benedict and Priscilla Hutchins series (both represented by entries here), excels at conjuring an alternate world, even within the confines of the short story format.”
“Of particular interest to McDevitt’s readers are two stories from his well-known Academy series, detailing Priscilla Hutchins’ qualification flight when she first became a starship pilot, in addition to several other stories set in the Academy universe. McDevitt’s fans will welcome this collection.”
From Paul Di Filippo at Locus Online:
“[A Voice in the Night] reaches back to 1986 for one entry, but predominantly features publications from very recent years, showcasing McDevitt’s mature talents in this narrative range.
“In their themes and novums, these tales diversely inhabit almost the whole breadth of modern SF, but share certain qualities. They are all upbeat without being Pollyanna-ish; respectful of the rigors of solid science without being close-minded or unimaginative; and told in old-school, straightforward linear fashion, a kind of Ur-narrative that never really loses its punch or utility. Lively yet not without gravitas and poetry, these stories embody the core values of SF.”
Table of Contents:
- Introduction: Jack McDevitt, History Builder, by Martin L. Shoemaker
- Searching for Oz
- The Law of Gravity Isn’t Working on Rainbow Bridge
- The Adventure of the Southsea Trunk
- It’s a Long Way to Alpha Centauri
- Listen Up, Nitwits
- Midnight Clear
- The Lost Equation
- Blood Will Tell, Co-written with Tom Easton
- Friends in High Places
- Maiden Voyage
- Waiting at the Altar
- The Play’s the Thing
- Good Intentions, with Stanley Schmidt
- Molly’s Kids
- Ships in the Night
- The Pegasus Project
- The Last Dance
- Weighing In
- A Voice in the Night
- Edward Miller
- Jack McDevitt
- 522 pages
- eBook Edition