This week I decided to review Thunderbird by Jack McDevitt.
An ancient but highly advanced complex has been discovered on land belong to the Sioux tribe, including a teleportation device leading to another habitable world nicknamed Eden, a complex of tunnels at an unknown location nicknamed the Maze, and an abandoned space station outside the Milky Way galaxy. The United States government sent a force of US Marshals to seize the installation, named the Roundhouse but diplomacy managed to talk them down before the fighting became serious.
When the book begins the President of the United States has decided to allow James Walker, Chairman of the Sioux, to be in charge of Roundhouse-related matters. Walker faces pressure to destroy the Roundhouse from those who fear that if the Roundhouse's technology is duplicated it will devastate industries linked to common human forms of transportation and cripple the global economy, or fear alien attack through the teleporter. On the other side, he also faces pressure from those who want to speed the exploration efforts. When the first mission to depart from Eden to one of the new sites linked to its teleportation station launches, they find an alien race but manage to withdraw without making first contact. But they soon make contact with the Arkons, a sentient gorilla-like race native to Eden. The contact goes peacefully and soon a mission to learn the language of the Arkons, and discover more about their culture. Meanwhile it is discovered that an invisible alien had traveled to Earth from the Maze. While the being's actions have been harmless so far and helpful in some cases, it is feared the alien might accidentally cause harm to humans if it remains so a mission to guide the creature back to the Maze is launched. And soon after, a mission to an apocalyptic and extremely hot world nicknamed Brimstone will reveal the ultimate secret of the Roundhouse's technology.
I give this book 6 out of 10. The reason for the low rating is very simple. I found the book incredibly boring. With the exception of a lone suicide attack by an insane teenager, the conflicts in the book are resolved far to easily for my tastes. Occasional easy conflict resolution is fine but if it happens too often I feel it makes for a dull story. The exploration missions are interesting but the tale slams to a halt just as a new factor that I feel could have led the story in many very interesting new directions arose. And again there is nor real conflict at the story's climax.