Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack Mcdevitt

Jack McDevitt
science fiction, short stories
Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack Mcdevitt - Jack McDevitt

Subterranean Press is proud to announce a mammoth (38 stories, over 200,000 words) Best of Volume by SF Best-Seller Jack McDevitt.

Jack McDevitt loves a good mystery. And he enjoys baffling his readers with enigmas like why, after so many years of listening with no results, would a SETI director hear an artificial signal and keep it quiet? Why might an astronomer at a space station, facing imminent death from a solar radiation blast, send off a frantic message that he had discovered a Clyde Tombaugh Special? Tombaugh, of course, was the discoverer of Pluto.

What really happened to Christopher Sim, the George Washington of the war against the Ashiyyur? Why had a beloved artist at the top of his profession, with everything to live for, killed himself? Why had a brilliant young biologist discovered how life got started on Earth, but neglected to tell anyone?

And there are of course other anomalies to be encountered in McDevitt's work: A computer threatens the literary world, while a time traveler worries the churches. One artificial intelligence runs for president, and another claims to be a Catholic and demands access to the sacraments. Two friends discover that whenever they get together, shuttles crash, wars break out, or tidal waves hammer a coastline.

A researcher watches endless fighting on another world and finally rebels against the Academy's hands-off doctrine. Meantime, a crewman stranded light-years from Earth, entertains himself by intercepting radio broadcasts from home, originally transmitted during World War II.

Among other questions these tales will answer: What might happen when people in a research lab literally try to play God. Why you don't ever, ever, want to turn out the lights at Bolton's Tower in the Dakotas. Why someone might want to blow up a star. And why it would be a really good idea if Hatch kept his hands off the mallet. These, and twenty-three other cosmic rides, await the reader.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Unlikely Connections

  • Cryptic
  • The Fort Moxie Branch
  • Nothing Ever Happens in Rock City
  • Tweak
  • Melville on Iapetus
  • Lighthouse (with Michael Shara)
  • Cool Neighbor (with Michael Shara)
  • Whistle
  • In the Tower

Part II: Lost Treasures

  • Ignition
  • Indomitable
  • Last Contact
  • Never Despair
  • Windows
  • Dutchman
  • The Tomb
  • Promises to Keep
  • To Hell with the Stars
  • The Mission

Part III: Out There

  • Report from the Rear
  • Black to Move
  • The Far Shore
  • Sunrise
  • Kaminsky at War

Part IV: Touching the Infinite

  • Fifth Day
  • Deus Tex
  • Gus
  • Welcome to Valhalla (with Kathryn Lance)
  • Tyger
  • Auld Lang Boom

Part V: Inventions and Fallout

  • Cruising through Deuteronomy
  • The Candidate
  • Act of God
  • Ellie
  • Time's Arrow
  • Dead in the Water
  • Henry James, This One's for You
  • Time Travellers Never Die

From Analog:
"...McDevitt... is surely one of the best writers of SF alive today. His novels are enough to support the statement, but if he had never written the novels, his short fiction could do the job almost as well. If you doubt me, get a copy of Cryptic... The book has thirty-nine tales, and I am not about to go through them all for you! Suffice it to say that you should have no trouble finding plenty to enjoy."

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Release date: February 20, 2009
Genres: science fiction, short stories
Updated: August 29, 2021