Cover image for Infinity beach
Infinity beach
McDevitt, Jack.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperPrism, [2000]

Physical Description:
435 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Science Fiction/Fantasy
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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We are alone.

That is the verdict, after centuries of SETI searches and space exploration. The only living things in the Universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled by Earthlings, and the starships that knit them together.

No life has been found. No intelligent aliens, no strange ecologies, no awesome civilizations. Not even an amoeba, a lichen, a germ. The Universe is as sterile as a laboratory that was used only once.

Or so it seems, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine undertakes to find out what happened to her sister (and clone) Emily, who, after the final, unsuccessful manned SETI expedition, disappeared along with four others--one of them a famous war hero. But they were not the only ones to vanish: so did an entire village, destroyed by a still-unexplained explosion.

Following a few ominous clues (including a model of a starship that never existed) Kim discovers that the log of the ill-fated Hunter was faked. Something happened, out there in the darkness between the stars. Someone was murdered--and something was brought back. Something that still leaves ghostly traces in the night.

Kim is prepared to go to any length to find out the truth, even if it means giving up her career with Beacon, the most colossal--and controversial--of all the SETI projects. Even if it means stealing a starship. Even if it means giving up her only love.

Kim is about to discover the answer to life's oldest question. And she's going to like the answer even less than she imagines.

With his trademark ingenuity, scientific audacity, and narrative energy, Jack McDevitt has penned a mystery in which humankind is the detective--and the universe itself is the corpse. Infinity Beach takes us into the strange, yet strangely familiar, civilization of our own far future--and into the heart of a bold woman whose search for her family's secret leads her to the greatest discovery of all time.

Author Notes

Jack McDevitt (born 1935) is an American science fiction author whose novels frequently deal with attempts to make contact with alien races, and with archaeology or xenoarchaeology.

He attended La Salle University, where a short story of his won the annual Freshman Short Story Contest and was published in the school's literary magazine, Four Quarters. He received a Master's degree in literature from Wesleyan University in 1971. Before becoming a full-time author, he was an English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer.

His first published story was The Emerson Effect in The Twilight Zone Magazine in 1981. Two years later, he published his first novel, The Hercules Text, which won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. He won the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novel for Seeker, the UPC International Prize for his novella Ships in the Night in 1991, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best SF novel for Omega in 2003.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Near the end of the third millennium, on the light-years-distant planet Greenway, scientist Kay Brandywine is part of a last, desperate effort to contact intelligent nonhuman life. She has started suspecting that a mysterious voyage by the starship Hunter actually succeeded in finding aliens, and that that voyage is somehow linked to the disappearance of her clone-sister and to a mysterious presence in the Greenway backwoods. She is quite correct, but to confirm her suspicions she has to turn detective, spy, shipjacker, and alien-contact specialist; risk her life to defeat the alien presence on Greenway; and lose her lover Solly Hobbs to the results of second contact with the aliens. Exquisitely timed revelations maximize suspense, and fine characterization and world building also hold the reader's interest, as do many original touches (e.g., the implications of the aliens being insect-sized). McDevitt's latest most closely recalls his A Talent for War (1989) but is conceived and executed on the larger scale of his Ancient Shores (1996) and subsequent books. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

HA thousand years in the future, on the terraformed planet Greenaway, humanity has everything to make itself comfortable and complacent--longevity, leisure and luxury are all readily available. But one question remains: Is humanity alone in the universe? Kimberly Brandywine doesn't necessarily believe in aliens, until she hears that her missing elder "sister," of whom she's a clone, may have been murdered, along with some crewmates, by celestial beings after a voyage aboard a space yacht. Her sister/clone's disappearance has long haunted Kim, whose search for the truth takes her underwater and into space, loses her a lover and causes her to commit crimes (including stealing a spaceship). Kim's efforts to solve the mystery of the vanishing and to make first contact with the aliens presumably behind it are hampered by the general malaise society has sunk into. And since death appears to follow in the wake of the aliens, Kim wavers about whether first contact will be beneficial or will destroy civilization as she knows it. McDevitt (Eternity Road) has created a future that is technologically sound and filled with hubristic, foolish people who make choices based more on how they will look to history than on what's best for it. Though his aliens are insubstantial (both physically and on the page), the mystery of what happened to Kim's sister and her fellow celestial seekers unfolds as precisely as an origami flower, and will hold readers in thrall. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

On the colony world of Greenway, humans still search in vain for evidence of alien intelligence. When Kim Brandywine, fundraiser for the Seabright Institute's Beacon Project, begins an investigation into the disappearance of her cloned sister Emily, also involved in the search for extraterrestrial life, she opens a door that leads her to her fondest dreams and darkest nightmares. The author of Moonfall combines elements of mystery and horror with a classic story of first contact in a masterly tale that belongs in most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-This futuristic novel has an intriguing mystery and gives a view of what could happen if another life-form, completely different from our own, were found. Twenty-seven years after the disappearance of her sister (and clone), Kim Brandywine begins the long process of solving Emily's mysterious disappearance along with the fates of the three other crew members who were with her on their last voyage into space. Kim uses friends as well as her own intelligence and bravado to force and find clues. The mystery brings frightening moments as she faces life-forms that were unsuccessfully dealt with in the recent past. Some well-placed spooky moments elevate the heart rate as the search for the truth progresses. McDevitt deftly mixes in a detailed vision of a successful colony of humans on another world, including the cultural aspects, even as the plot spins toward solving the mystery. Personal relationships share an important aspect of the story, and the author draws personalities of even the minor characters clearly and succinctly. This is a wonderful mix of science-based fiction, mystery, and romance, with loads of action, as well as some spine-tingling moments.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Infinity Beach Chapter One New Year's Eve, 599 It seems safe now to assume that the terrestrial origin of life was a unique event. Some will quibble that we have, after all, seen only a few thousand of the billions of worlds drifting through the gently curving corridors we once called biozones. But we have stood on too many warm beaches and looked across seas over which no gulls hover, that throw forth neither shells, nor strands of weed, nor algae. They are peaceful seas, bounded by rock and sand. The universe has come to resemble a magnificent but sterile wilderness, an ocean which boasts no friendly coast, no sails, no sign that any have passed this way before. And we cannot help but tremble in the gray light of these vast distances. Maybe that is why we are converting the great interstellar liners into museums, or selling them for parts. Why we have begun to retreat, why the Nine Worlds are now really six, why the frontier is collapsing why we are going home to our island. We are coming back at last to Earth. To the forests of our innocence. To the shores of night. Where we need not listen to the seaborne wind. Farewell, Centaurus. Farewell to all we might have been. -- Elio Kardi, "The Shores of Night," Voyagers, 571 "Nova goes in three minutes." Dr. Kimberly Brandywine looked out across the dozen or so faces in the briefing room. In back, lenses were pointed at her, sending the event out across the nets. Behind, her projections read HELLO TO THE UNIVERSE and KNOCK and IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? Several flatscreens were positioned around the walls, showing technicians bent over terminals in the Trent. These were the teams that would ignite the nova, but the images were fourteen hours old, the time required for the hypercomm transmissions to arrive. Everyone present was attractive and youthful, except sometimes for their eyes. However vital and agile people were, their true age tended to reveal itself in their gaze. There was a hardness that came with advancing years, eyes that somehow lost their depth and their animation. Kim was in her midthirties, with exquisite features and hair the color of a raven's wing. In an earlier era, they would have launched ships for her. in her own age, she was just part of the crowd. "If we haven't found anybody after all this time," the representative from Seabright Communications was saying, "it can only be because there's nobody to find. Or, if there is, they're so far away it doesn't matter." She delivered her standard reply, discounting the great silence, point-ing out that even after eight centuries humans had still inspected only afew thousand star systems. "But you may be right ," she admitted."Maybe we are alone. But the fact is that we really don't know. So we'll keep trying.'" Kim had long since concluded that Seabright was right, They hadn't found so much as an amoeba out there. Briefly, at the beginning of the Space Age, there'd been speculation that life might exist in Europa's seas. Or in Jupiter's clouds. There'd even been a piece of meteoric rock thought to contain evidence of Martian bacteria. It was as dose to extraterrestrial life as we'd ever come. Hands were still waving. "One more question," she said. She gave it to Canon Woodbridge, a science advisor for the Grand Council of the Republic. He was tall, dark, bearded, almost satanic in appearance, yet a congenial fiend, one who meant no harm. "Kim" he said, "why do you think we're so afraid of being alone? Why do we want so much to find our own reflections out there?" He glanced in the direction of the screens, where the technicians continued their almostceremonial activities. How on earth would she know? "I have no idea, Canon," she said. "But you're deeply involved in the Beacon Project. And your sister devoted her life to the same goal." "Maybe it's in the wiring." Emily, her done actually, had vanished when Kim was seven. She paused momentarily and tried to deliver a thoughtful response, something about the human need to communicate and to explore. "I suspect," she said, "if there's really nothing out there, if the universe is really empty, or at least this part of it is, then maybe a lot of us would feel there's no point to the trip.' There was more to it than that, she knew. Some primal urge not to be alone. But when she tried to put it into words she floundered around, gave up, and glanced at the clock. One minute to midnight, New Year's Eve, in the two hundred eleventh year of the Republic and the six hundredth year since Marquand's landing. One minute to detonation. "How are we doing on time?" asked one of the journalists. "Are they on schedule?" "Yes," Kim said. "As of ten A.M. this morning." The hypercomm signal from the Trent required fourteen hours and some odd minutes to travel the 580 light-years from the scene of detonation. I think we're safe to assume that the nova is imminent.' She activated an overhead screen, which picked up an image of the target star. Alpha Maxim was a bright AO-class. Hydrogen lines prominent. Surface temperature 11,000* C. Luminosity sixty times that of Helios. Five planets. All barren. Like every other known world, save the few that had been terraformed. It would be the first of six novas. All would occur within a volume of space which measured approximately five hundred cubic light-years. And they would be triggered at sixty-day intervals. It would be a demonstration that could not help but draw the attention of anyone who might be watching. The ultimate message to the stars: We are here. But she believed, as almost everyone else did, that the great silence would continue to roll back. Infinity Beach . Copyright © by Jack McDevitt. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.