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WesternSFA
Coming Home
an Alex Benedict Novel
by Jack McDevitt
Ace; $25.95; 368pp
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
I love the Alex Benedict/Chase Kolpath novels by McDevitt. One of my favorite SF novels of the last ten years is his “The Devil’s Eye.”

This latest McDevitt is engrossing, entertaining and has a very satisfying ending.

Alex and Chase get caught up looking for relics from 8-9,000 years ago—the Golden Age when Neil Armstrong went to the moon, the rest of the Apollo missions and our first visits to Mars and Europa. The relics originally stored in a Florida Space Museum on Earth disappeared in the Dark Ages---when civilization pretty much collapsed on Earth. And global warming swallowed up a great deal of the world’s coastlines. Of course, Alex and Chase are hoping the relics have just been hidden away and not destroyed or irretrievably lost. The biggest clue is a transmitter that the daughter of a renowned archeologist finds in her father’s belongings after he dies. A Corbett transmitter from 2712.

It is always so entertaining to watch how Alex and Chase track down obscure clues, hit dead ends and find one little factoid that leads them on the right path - while thwarting the machinations of others who don’t want them to track down the remains of Apollo missions.

In the meantime, the Capella, a luxury cruiser caught in a time warp that allows it to appear for a very short time every five years is about to reappear.  Alex and Chase, who helped discover that the ship was not utterly lost, are in on the mission to unload the ship of 2600 passengers.  Because they helped discover that the ship was not only caught in a time warp (meaning everyone aboard only thinks a few days have passed, when it’s actually been eleven years) but they also discovered the cycle of its reappearance.  One of the passengers on the cruiser is Alex’s beloved uncle Gabe who helped set Alex on the path to uncovering lost bits of arcane history.

So hundred of ships are involved in rendezvouing where the ship will appear, in hopes of getting several hundred people off before the Capella disappears again. And the window of opportunity is very short---only several hours.

But in the meanwhile Alex and Chase are finding a lot of roadblocks in their search for the ancient space items. One of their strongest leads is the name Larissa which is the name given to an asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Earth. When they finally discover the correct asteroid---a real surprise awaits them.

The answer, as it is so frequently in McDevitt’s novels, is not what they expected to find.

And as for the Capella---the answer there is better than expected. So you get a little disappointment as well as great satisfaction here. This, as usual, is a fine read. ~~ Sue Martin

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