This is a 'what if' similar to the black monoliths that show up in another science fiction work... but instead of strange monuments, a farmer finds a gorgeous yacht buried in the middle of a Great Plains farm. That's startling enough in itself, raising questions of who would put it there. But then scientists discover that the substance the boat is made of has an impossible atomic number. The thing CAN'T exist. But it does.
A little more hunting turns up additional alien technology on the nearby Indian reservation. Then things really hit the fan.
With simply the rumor of proven extra-terrestrial visit and possible advanced technology comes public furor, media frenzy, financial uproar and political cover-your-ass. Will the government step in with another $24 worth of beads and take over? Or will something worse happen?
From back cover: It turned up in a North Dakota wheat field: a triangle, like a shark's fin, sticking up from the black loam. Tom Lasker did what any farmer would have done. He dug it up. And discovered a boat, made of a fiberglass-like material with an utterly impossible atomic number. What it was doing buried under a dozen feet of prairie soil two thousand miles from any ocean, no one knew. True, Tom Lasker's wheat field had once been on the shoreline of a great inland sea, but that was a long time ago -- ten thousand years ago.
A return to science fiction on a grand scale, reminiscent of the best of Heinlein, Simak, and Clarke, Ancient Shores is the most ambitious and exciting SF triumph of the decade, a bold speculative adventure that does not shrink from the big questions -- and the big answers
I feel I have to give this book at least 4 stars even though it was a little slow for my taste at times. I say this because it prompted me to head back to the book store the following week to see what else Mr. McDevitt had written as I liked the overall flavor of the storytelling. Any book that leads you to buy another just to see what the authors work is about has done its job and at least deserves 4 stars.
In this story what initially begins as a strange discovery turns into an all out archaeological project that results in an interesting form of access to other places. The story moved a bit slow for me at times and I wanted him to get on with it, but I really enjoyed the flavor of the characters and the tale being told. Perhaps part of my problem was the lack of patience as I waited for the story to unfold. I think perhaps I wouldnt have been good at the dig site in this story and would have been the one beating my head against the structure in frustration while the others scientifically and methodically continued.
As stated above this book led me to pick up some more of Mr. McDevitts books and I have very much enjoyed several of them. McDevitt is a writer that makes you think about things along the way and I appreciate that in a story. This story was pretty well thought out for the most part. It had a few flaws, but nothing big enough to really mention. Additionally, I liked the characters though sometimes they seemed a bit reckless as they barreled ahead at unexpected times. So in the end it wasnt a great book, but it was a good enough story that I enjoyed the adventure and hope to travel on others with this author.
This is the seminal book in a series with amazing possibilities. Recommended read.