by Jack McDevitt
I liked this book. The good points: I was satisfied with the science - inventions/discoveries was either well-explained and/or plausible in 100 or so years. The disasters were good in setting up how dangerous it really is to be in space and to be an explorer. And I think some valid social questions were hinted at, one of which was: is it best to leave an archaelogical find in its original context or should it be brought to a location in which more people can view it.
As for critiques, I'll list off a few of the complaints on Amazon and my reactions to those complaints:
1) The Point-of-view narration shifts are a bit tiring - Yeah I'll agree with this. They're a bit jarring, especially after Hutch had been set up as the main character in the beginning
2) The selection of characters is like Gilligan's Island - Haha, I didn't think about this, but yeah I'll give it that too. (The millionaire, the hot actress, the artist, etc)
3) The aliens they encountered had male and female sexes. This is highly unlikely and shows a lack of imagination. - It's true that the alien lifeforms they found were remarkedly human-like, but I think it was implied they only encountered two types of aliens out of a number of alien forms that did exist.
4) The characters were dumb. (i.e. they impatiently try to meet aliens without much forethought) - I guess there are different schools of thought on this issue. My personal view is that there are a variety of people in the world, so why would you only want to read about super-awesome, super-intelli, James Bond characters all the time? I think the characters were like people you'd meet in the real-world. I suppose that a point could be made possibly for lack of development of all characters, but there were quite a few.
5) The last-minute cliffhanging rescues were a bit much - I think I was okay with that. I think traveling in space is one of the most dangerous things to do, so there should be close-calls, especially with the amateur explorers on-board.
Anyways, all in all, this book was worth a read.
(Recommended by Mark)