A talent for war by Jack McDevitt

Now this one really engaged my Sense of Wonder!

The story is OK: interstellar artifact collector unearths the uncomfortable truth about a 200-year dead military hero. If that was all there was to it, then that would be a dry read and not necessarily very exciting. But somehow, in his very direct and visual story-telling style, McDevitt conveys an incredible sense of the far-flung human society he has set the story in. There have been very few sf novels I have read where the ordinary reality of the extent of the human civilization depicted has come home to the reader; but in this novel, I was there. I felt a part of that society, and I grasped the size and extent of it, a society where Earth, the planet of origin, was very, very distant and not really all that important; and it didn’t matter that that was so.

I have no idea how McDevitt did that, and in his later novels, whilst I have been struck by the televisual style he employs, I haven’t been so transported to a different place. For me, this was real mind-expanding stuff, the sort of thing I started reading sf to find.


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