Jack McDevitt. Maiden Voyage. (Asimovs January 2012)

Readers familiar with McDevitt’s ‘Academy’ novels will doubtless be particularly pleased to read a story featuring the early days of Priscilla Hutchins, who is evidently a central figure in the six novels.

As I’m not in that position the story as a singleton looks at the maiden voyage of a young spaceship pilot. More specifically, the flight which she is in control of whilst under supervision, the completion of which will get her a full licence. The story sets out her background, what has called her to space, what in her personality makes the loneliness and the distances travelled something not to be feared.

A further intriguing element is the background of ancient monuments left across our galaxy by a much earlier predecessor race (or races), and the planet which is her destination, which holds more than first thought. What doesn’t quite work for me is the ending (spoiler alert!) where she comes across the corpse of a member of the predecessor race, the first ever found and clearly one of the greatest scientific finds of all time, but decides to keep quiet to let the corpse rest in peace.

But notwithstanding this ending, I’ll make a mental note to get a hold of the Academy novels when I’m retired and got the time to read novels. Of course that mental note will disappear about 10 seconds after I pressed the Publish button, so let’s hope I stumble across this dusty review in 8 years time when I’m mapping out my retirement reading..

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