Eternity Road By Jack McDevitt

Book details

detailsdetail
Item Weight 1.05 pounds
Hardcover338 pages
ISBN-109780061052088
ISBN-13978-0061052088
Product Dimensions6.5 x 1.5 x 9.75 inches
PublisherHarper Prism; 1st Edition (May 1, 1997)
LanguageEnglish
ASIN0061052086
Best Sellers Rank#2,085,688 in Books
#29,204 in Science Fiction Adventures
#179,696 in American Literature (Books)

The Roadmakers left only ruins behind — but what magnificent ruins! Their concrete highways still cross the continent. Their cups, combs and jewelry are found in every Illyrian home. They left behind a legend,too — a hidden sanctuary called Haven, where even now the secrets of their civilization might still be found.

Chaka’s brother was one of those who sought to find Haven and never returned. But now Chaka has inherited a rare Roadmaker artifact — a book called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court — which has inspired her to follow in his footsteps. Gathering an unlikely band of companions around her, Chaka embarks upon a journey where she will encounter bloodthirsty rirver pirates, electronic ghosts who mourn their lost civilization and machines that skim over the ground and air. Ultimately, the group will learn the truth about their own mysterious past.

Plot

In a post-apocalypse North America where almost everyone was killed by a plague over 1,700 years prior, little is known about the ancient “Roadmaker” civilization that is said to have built the devastated ruins of enormous cities, and the magnificent roads that still cover the landscape. In the valley of the Mississippi River, a number of towns have united again, trade and science have begun anew.

When a copy of Mark Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is discovered in the estate of the sole survivor of an earlier expedition to the north, a young woman named Chaka Milana, whose brother died in the previous expedition almost a decade ago, decides to gather a band of explorers and try to find Haven, a legendary stronghold where the knowledge of mankind is said to have been collected and kept safe for future generations. A long voyage ensues, taking the group, among other places, to the ruins of the ancient city of Chicago.

After losing several members of their team and traveling by an extraordinary means of transport that still functions after hundreds of years, the team eventually finds Haven and salvages some of the knowledge stored there before the facility is struck by a disaster that they themselves cause.

Editorial Reviews

Eternity Road is set 1,000 years from now, when the world as we know it has been dead for eight centuries, destroyed by a plague that killed most of humanity. Technological artifacts remain, but the knowledge of what they are and how to use them has been lost by a society that has degenerated into a series of city-states. Legend has it that the Roadmakers left a store of knowledge in a place called Haven, but when an expedition from Memphis sets out to find it, only one person returns. The lone, dishonored survivor eventually kills himself, but his son is determined to try again … –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In McDevitt’s second archaeologizing romance (after Ancient Shores ), it is a thousand years or so after a plague-induced collapse of civilization. A hardy band sets out to recover the lost books of the Roadmakers, the builders of what are now the astonishing ruins of that civilization. On the way, the adventurers encounter various exotic societies and mysterious artifacts the Roadmakers left behind, and ultimately, they return with at least part of what they sought. McDevitt redeems the possible overfamiliarity of his quest plot with a large cast of well-handled, original characters, starting with the principal protagonist, silversmith Chaka Milana; with much dry wit; and with a host of well-chosen details that give his decivilized future a lived-in quality and a high degree of plausibility. Although not quite as good as such 1950s postholocaust classics as Andre Norton’s Star Man’s Son and George R. Stewart’s Earth AbidesEternity Road is eminently readable and a real credit to McDevitt. Roland Green –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

After a cataclysmic viral plague wiped out humanity sometime in the 21st century, the next civilization arose in isolated pockets. In the Mississippi Valley, Illyrians built their town on what had been the Roadmakers’ Memphis. Some believed in the mythical Haven on the eastern ocean where books and other technological wonders had been saved. When all but one member of an expedition dies trying to find Haven, the leader’s son joins a second party on the long overland trek east. Unfortunately, the book raises more questions than it answers about the knowledge that was lost, leaving the reader unsatisfied. From the author of Ancient Shores (HarperCollins, 1996); a possible candidate to sf collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Post-disaster odyssey from the author of Ancient Shores (1996), etc. Far-future Earth is littered with decaying monumental structures built by the mysterious Roadmakers, who, according to tradition, succumbed to a lethal plague. Now, the Mississippi-based republic of Illyria has developed an early-medieval technology where, none too believably, firearms are crafted but steam engines and printing presses are unknown. Of an expedition sent to locate Haven, the fabled repository of Roadmaker technology and artifacts, only Karik Endine returned–and he had nothing to say of his journey or what he found. After Karik drowns himself, bequeathing to young silversmith Chaka Milana the only known copy of a Mark Twain novel, the question remains: Where did Karik get the book? So Chaka organizes her own quest, including scholar Silas Glote, Karik’s son Flojian, woodsman Jon Shannon, soldier Quait Esterhok, and former priestess Avila Kap. On their journey, far to the northeast, they will encounter vast ruined cities, flying trains, bandits, still-functioning computers, slavers, reclusive engineers, and crazy old balloonists; three travelers will die before the survivors reach Haven to discover the fate of the previous expedition and the source of Karik’s mystifying book. Solid characters and a consistently intriguing plot (though McDevitt’s grasp of the details isn’t always secure): an uplifting tale (cf. David Brin’s The Postman), well up to previous standards. — Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

(McDevitt’s) mastery…is impeccable. Reading Eternity Road is like hearing a favorite piece of music played by a skilled artist. — San Francisco Examiner, July 21, 1997

Jack McDevitt’s Eternity Road is part of an extensive and illustrious SF lineage, the post-apocalypse journey of discovery. Much of the appeal of this subgenre lies in a dual nostalgia, for our own simpler past (recreated in the survivor societies) and for our own present or future, which is the vanished past that the survivors wish to rediscover. Eternity Road works precisely in this manner….As usual, McDevitt’s characters are appealing, even the ones whose function it is to provide opposition. In fact there are no villains, aside from the od bandit….The real antagonist is the landscape itself, which is enough to cost several of the companions their lives. Other encounters are frightening for the travelers but amusing for us: exploring a supercollider’s tunnels; a ride on an automated train and a conversation with the melancholy AI that runs it; a philosophical discussion with a holographic, animatronic Winston Churchill.

In keeping with the conventions of the form, Haven turns out to be both less and more than they had imagined, and the journey itself proves to be the most valuable prize. This payoff isn’t as dramatic as it would have been in the post-apocalypse tales I grew up on, but it is more grown-up, and much better written, occupying a space between the ironies of Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Wild Shore and the intelligent neobarbarian adventures of Donald E. McQuinn’s Warrior trilogy, with perhaps a nod to Edgar Pangborn’s Davy. There are no surprises for experienced readers –this book doesn’t explode or transform the tradition– but no disappointments and many pleasures. — Locus, November 1997

There’s humor and suspense and tragedy and adventure, and a clever little mystery to resolve in the closing chapters. This is one where you won’t want to wait for the paperback. — Science Fiction Chronicle, Jun 97

What bliss it is to be alive, in Jack McDevitt’s new novel. We are in America. As science fiction readers, it is an America we know very well; and love dearly

The catastrophe has happened — in Eternity Road, it seems to have been caused by a plague from Africa whose effect on the Western world is not only devastating but instantaneous. Cars have rolled to a stop on interstates. Computer-driven artifacts –from maglev public transportation systems and idiot-savant robot bank guards to computer simulations of Winston Churchill — have simply continued to operate, for no one had a chance to turn them off. Only a few humans survive.

This all happens around the middle of the next century. Eternity Road itself takes place a thousand or so years further on.

The balkanization of America into tiny legible walkable squabbling mini-states (as in Edgar Pangborn’s Davy [1965] and elsewhere) has duly occurred; but by the time the amiable protagonists of McDevitt’s quest tale begin to work out theirn route to the haven (it is called Haven) where the secrets of the past may have been stored, these mini-states have settled down, amalgamated, abandoned the religious fundamentalisms familiar to SF readers, become (in short) the kind of places that the kind of character Judy Garland played before she grew up might have never wanted to leave.

Nothing could be finer….

McDevitt is, in fact, a writer of intense clarity; his control over his plots is humane but unrelenting; his bent is always to continue (in this, he is like a true writer of fantasy — as opposed to the ‘fantasy” writers whose tetralogies-doubled are object lessons in how to avoid the act of storytelling)… — John Clute, Science Fiction Weekly, Jun 6, 97 –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The Roadmakers left only ruins behind — but what magnificent ruins! Their concrete highways still cross the continent. Their cups, combs, and jewelry are found in every Illyrian home. They left behind a legend, too — a hidden sanctuary called Haven, where even now the secrets of their civilization might still be found.Chaka’s brother was one of those who sought to find Haven and never returned. But now Chaka has inherited a rare Roadmaker artifact — a book called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court — which has inspired her to follow in his footsteps. Gathering an unlikely band of companions around her, Chaka embarks upon a journey where she will encounter bloodthirsty river pirates, electronic ghosts who mourn their lost civilization, and machines that skim over the ground and air. Ultimately, the group will learn the truth about their own mysterious past. –This text refers to the mass_market edition.

About the Author

Jack McDevitt is the author of A Talent for War, The Engines of God, Ancient Shores, Eternity Road, Moonfall, and numerous prize-winning short stories. He has served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, taught English and literature, and worked for the U.S. Customs Service in North Dakota and Georgia.

–This text refers to the mass_market edition.

Reader Review