Village in the Sky
In Nebula Award–winning author Jack McDevitt’s ninth installment in the beloved Alex Benedict science fiction mystery series, humanity discovers new intelligent life lightyears away—only for it to disappear without a trace.
Centuries after a war with the Mutes, the first aliens to be encountered by humankind, a startling new discovery in the far reaches of the Orion Nebula appears. On a planet with conditions favorable to life, explorer vessel The Columbia comes across a small town seemingly inhabited by an intelligent species not yet discovered.
But when a highly publicized follow-up mission is sent to make contact mere months later, the entire town has vanished, leaving no trace—or such is presumed to be the case until Alex Benedict and his archaeological crew show up to investigate. Officially, their mission is to find concealed artifacts that may have been left behind, but the team’s real goal is to solve the mystery of how these aliens disappeared so rapidly—and why. In turns terrifying and miraculous, the answers raise the stakes for every member on board as they look to make their mark on history.
Nebula Award–winning author Jack McDevitt, whom Stephen King has called “the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke,” brings back Alex, Chase, and Gabe for another brilliantly crafted science fiction mystery.
Jack McDevitt (born 1935) is an award-winning American science fiction author.
He is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. His work has been on the final ballot for the Nebula Awards for 12 of the past 13 years. His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the celebrated Ace Specials series and won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. In 1991, McDevitt won the first $10,000 UPC International Prize for his novella, "Ships in the Night." The Engines of God was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and his novella, "Time Travelers Never Die," was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.
Alex Benedict consists of nine books, and the series is set to expand with the upcoming release of one more book. The current recommended reading order for the series is provided below.
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The plot of McDevitt's new Alex Benedict novel recalls his most recent Priscilla Hutchins novel, "The Long Sunset", which finds the author spinning a first contact scenario through a narrative of discovery and mystery. The book is like a comfortable old pair of shoes, for better or worse: its familiarity is beguiling and relaxing, though at some point you stop noticing it's even there.
McDevitt makes it easy to return to the far future world that Alex and his pilot Chase Kolpath inhabit. It is a largely pleasant, low-conflict future, though not entirely lacking in the typical anxieties that attend human society. Alex, now re-united with his recently recovered Uncle Gabe, is still selling antiquities and artifacts, and Chase is still getting him wherever he needs to go. The story kicks off when an exploratory vessel stumbles on a tiny alien colony in the furthest reaches of known space. Up until then the only other alien race humans had encountered were the Ashiyyur, with whom they fought a long and devastating war before achieving a peaceful resolution. So when a follow-up mission is sent to make first contact, they are even more surprised to discover that the colony has completely vanished, leaving no trace of its presence behind.