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Can You Name This Story? (Part 30)

Here’s another Name That Story challenge for our readers: Do any of you out there know the title to this story?

I haven’t read [this], but I remember reading a review about 5 years ago and thinking it sounded like something I want to read. I think the review was in Locus. It was a description of a novel about radio astronomers getting signals from a dying civilization. (Sounds like James Gunn’s classic THE LISTENERS so far, but it’s not that one.) The ET signals were from a witness to the system’s impending destruction (by nova, I think). The witness was described by the reviewer as a mix of a new anchor, stand-up comic, and performance artist. My Swiss-cheese slice of a memory thinks this novel might be by Jack McDevitt, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Grateful for any help tracking it down.

– Tom M.

Can you name this story?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

5 Comments on Can You Name This Story? (Part 30)

  1. wackyxaky // August 28, 2013 at 3:08 am //

    McDevitt does have a number of novels about civilization/world destruction. I haven’t read all of his stuff, but I remember Deepsix involves a planet getting hit by another planet and everyone running around to get archeological knowledge about an alien civilization that was on the soon to be destroyed planet. One of the characters is a kind of cultural commentator that is supposed to be very famous.

  2. McDevitt’s first novel, THE HERCULES TEXT, was about astronomers receiving messages from space, but I’m not sure it’s the book being looked for. (I’m pretty sure I read it when it came out in 1980 as an Ace Science Fiction Special, but don’t remember much beyond the general plot idea. A TALENT FOR WAR was much more memorable.)

    • Yeah, THE HERCULES TEXT was McDevitt’s contribution to the radio astronomy genre, but I don’t think that’s the story the original poster is thinking of. HERCULES TEXT focused mostly on the reactions of the reactions of the people decoding the signal and the political implications, not on the personality of the alien broadcaster.

      It’s a great book, but note that there are two versions of THE HERCULES TEXT floating around. There’s the original Ace SF special, which included a strong US-Soviet thread (published in 1980, so it figures) and a second version published in a combo with A TALENT FOR FOR WAR in an omnibus titled HELLO OUT THERE or something like that. This second version removed or downplayed the US-Soviet thread. McDevitt has said that he hopes to someday republish this second HERCULES as a standalone novel, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  3. If it is McDevitt then I think it is _The Hercules Text_ but if I recall this was his debut novel and so older than 5 years, unless due for a reprint.

    (Actually I think his best novel)

  4. Thanks, folks. McDevitt’s a terrific writer anyway, so I should check those out.

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