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Omega by Jack McDevitt
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Omega (2003)

by Jack McDevitt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Academy: Priscilla Hutchins (4)

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Omega by Jack McDevitt - Mysterious and massive dark clouds that travel through deep space seem to target specific planets and their civilizations. The Omega clouds blast upon their targeted planets with horrendous destructive forces that destroy civilizations and leave terrifying death tolls in their wake. Unfortunately, in Omega (volume four of the Academy Series) Priscilla Hutchins is no longer exploring remote planets. Instead she has moved to an administrative position, which disappointed this reader. However, she is still part of the story, which involves the discovery of an Omega cloud which has targeted a specific planet that contains a primitive, but culturally interesting society. Several human ships are dispatched to the targeted planet and their crews try to prepare the alien population to survive the coming Omega assault. However, the benevolent humans must not reveal their presence on the planet. The reader is treated to a very interesting interaction between the unseen humans and the natives, who turn out to be much more endearing than expected. Sadly, there seems to be little that can be done to prevent massive destruction and death by the killing cloud. McDevitt always pays attention to scientifically plausible details and well-developed characters. He also provides a slow and steady tension buildup with a few exciting twists along the way, and a big finish that is always compelling and satisfying. I enjoyed this book very much. Other volumes in The Academy series include The Engines of God (#1), Deepsix (#2), Chindi (#3), Odyssey (#5), Cauldron (#6), and Starhawk (#7). ( )
  clark.hallman | Dec 18, 2015 |
I was somewhat disappointed in this book, especially when compared to its predecessor in the series, Chindi, which was an amazing book. The series features an Academy pilot, Hutch, who everyone loves. She constantly saves the day through smarts and bravery. In this book, however, she's no longer a pilot. She's now an administrator for the Academy and when we do see her, she's taking flak from everybody for not being able to grant inane wishes or she's sending messages off to her star ship pilots. That's all we get from her. Major disappointment.

In this book, we get more of the Omega clouds, monstrously huge clouds floating through space, decimating virtually every city on all worlds they encounter. One is headed for earth in about 1,0000 years. Meanwhile, they find another that's turning and heading for an earth-like planet in about nine months. The problem is, this planet is inhabited by a pre-industrial, but still advanced civilization. Aliens. They look vaguely similar to us, in a cartoon like way, and have amazing architecture, libraries, restaurants, theaters, temples, etc. There are 11 cities on this planet, all fairly near each other. And they have no idea what's about to happen to them.

There's an Academy ship out there and the four people aboard are instructed to go down to the planet and interact with the aliens, who are being called Goompahs, a term I learned to utterly hate by the end of the book. The team wears clothing that make them invisible and they go into the cities, but Dig, one of the book's heroes, starts a stampede that kills the leader of the team, so something goes wrong right away.

Another ship is on the way with supplies, including dozens of things to be placed around the cities to eavesdrop on them so we can learn their language. Because the only way to save them is to either divert the Omega or to convince the Goompahs to leave their cities and head for the high ground. Unfortunately, the Goompahs are scared to death of humans, having seen Dig, and think he's a demon. So convincing them to leave their cities seems out. A ship is sent with scientists and linguists. The linguists get daily reports from the planet with recordings of conversation and start learning Goompah and become quite conversant in it. They're going to dress up as Goompahs and tell them in their own language to leave when the cloud arrives. Another ship is sent with a huge kite (which struck me as really stupid) and some video devices, to divert the cloud. The leader of this ship is a major asshole. It's a nine month flight, so they'll just barely be beating the cloud there.

The ship with the linguists loses its engines after six months and is stranded. Another ship comes by with room for one passenger, and the asshole gets on, determined to divert the cloud. Meanwhile, Dig has heard an alien woman speak who makes wild claims about seeing things all over the world which may or may not exist. He decides to appear before her and tell her about the cloud, which is now visible to the Goompahs, and tell her to head to the hills and to tell everyone. She freaks, but doesn't run away and he gives her the message.

Dig has a thing for his pilot, Kellie, and one of the other ship's captains marries them. Rather than a celebration, the asshole insists that Kellie take him right then and there to the cloud to try and divert it. Nice. The cloud sucks them in and Kellie escapes, while asshole blows the ship up in the cloud. I was glad to see him die.

Do the humans divert the cloud? Or do they convince the Goompahs to leave their cities and go to higher ground? If so, how? And what happens to the planet? You'll have to read it to find out.

Aside from some of the problems that I've already mentioned, this book is too long and simply DRAGS. Oh my God, I thought it would never end. I wanted everyone to die by the end of the book. I couldn't say that about the previous books in this series. McDevitt is a good writer, normally, and I have the last two books in this series. I'm hoping for a return to form. Recommended if you're reading the series. Otherwise, not recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Jul 29, 2015 |
A very good read, though tough sledding for the first 100 pages in character introduction (my only complaint). It is a story about a coming apocalypse set in the future but the event is almost an anti-climax. The real story is Earth coming to grips with a inter galactic cloud of unknown composition that is a civilization killer headed for a planet with an intelligent but non-technical culture. The cloud will eventually threaten Earth long into the future but dealing with it has been put off for the future.

It has a Star Trek next generation feel to it with its contact protocol and the artificial intelligence on the space ships are like DATA though not an android. Some funny situations, some social comment, some ethical questions as well as a discussion of faith but not in an annoying detailed way. A great HARD science fiction read...something I find rare these days.

I will definitely read more of McDevitt's work ( )
  Lynxear | Sep 2, 2012 |
Spring12:

Characters: Just not really there for me. Hutch was all beuarcratic and her replacements were uninteresting.

Plot: I suppose it was good. Mostly it was boring.

Style: Overwrought. ( )
  Isamoor | Jul 27, 2012 |
I enjoyed the premise of the book, but I felt the author himself didn't quite know how to handle the omega clouds. There was an overwhelming vagueness in the descriptions and it felt like a piece of the story was missing. The narration kept jumping from character to character and it was difficult (for me) to follow. ( )
  amandacb | Mar 9, 2012 |
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Jack McDevittprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ducak, DaniloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441012108, Mass Market Paperback)

A civilization-destroying omega cloud has switched direction, heading straight for a previously unexplored planetary system--and its alien society. And suddenly, a handful of brave humans must try to save an entire world--without revealing their existence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:28 -0400)

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"Somewhat sentient, the omega clouds obliterate life on every planet in their path. Now one of them is predicted to reach Earth in about 900 years. But between Earth and the cloud, lies the home world of the Korbikkan race. They are humanoid sentients and one of three sentient races known to humanity. Now, mankind must decide whether to marshall the science resources needed and to bring to bear the weaponry needed to save another race without putting itself at risk. Can a human rescue team save thier whole world without letting the inhabitants know they are being saved?"--SFsite.com.… (more)

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