Book Bites: Jack McDevitt and The Long Sunset

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

I first met Jack McDevitt at the Chicago Worldcon when he was the Pro and I was the Neo-Pro in the writers workshop. He was kind, funny, and a brilliant teacher. This Nebula, John W. Cambell, and Locus award-winner for his novels is a joy and a delight and I’m so glad to see a new Academy book from him, The Long Sunset out this month from Saga Press.

Jack joins Book Bites today to discuss matters of pizza, and aliens.

Purchase from: Saga Press & signed copies from JV Books

Priscilla Hutchins, the star pilot of the Academy novels, has often commented how much she’d enjoy sharing pizza with aliens from a million-year old civilization. She gets part of her wish in The Long Sunset when she and her team discover an ocean world. It’s not quite a high-tech world. But the inhabitants are friendly.

Flight rules prohibit socializing with aliens, or even allowing them to know they have visitors. But sometimes events get ahead get ahead of official procedure. In this case, the humans have no choice but to say hello to the occupants of the ocean world and even to take them aboard their starship, the Eiferman. With the help of the ship’s AI, they have been able to communicate with their new passengers.

They exchange ideas, talk about their mutual worlds, and ultimately face a decision about lunch. The humans, who were briefly stranded on the ocean world, survived because the inhabitants took care of them. And fortunately, they were able to get sufficient nutrition from the local food sources, most of which were vegetables.

They offered their visitors several choices, mostly vegetative. But it didn’t take long for them to lock in on the pizza. And in case you’re wondering what the long-awaited conversation between beings from two star systems was actually about, it was the confirmation of the alien notion that life is dangerous and often difficult. We’re all in it together.

(We have several Book Bites & Cooking the Books episodes coming your way in the next week! Keep your eyes out for Eric Smith (Author, Agent, Fabulous Human, Corgi-approved) and Rebecca F. Kuang, coming soon!)

Pizza Crust

  • 3 ¼ Cups flour
  • .5 oz Rapid rise yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 Teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 Cup warm water 120-130 degrees F
  • 1/3 cup oil
  1. Prep oven at 425 degrees.
  2. Mix 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add water and oil and mix.
  3. Slowly add rest of flour. Make a ball.
  4. Knead the ball for 5 minutes on well-floured surface. Add more flour, as needed. Let dough rest covered for 10 minutes.
  5. Grease pizza pan. Make two balls. Create crust shape by rolling onto pan.
  6. Top crusts with sauce, cheese, pepperoni, onion, and green peppers.

Cooking time 13 minutes.

Jack McDevitt has been described by Stephen King as “the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.” He is the author of twenty-two novels, twelve of which have been Nebula finalists. Seeker won the award in 2006. In 2004, Omega received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel. His fiction has won numerous prizes. The Robert A. Heinlein Society presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award, granted for “his outstanding body of work.” His current books are The Long Sunset, just released from Saga, and a story collection, A Voice in the Night, to be published in August by Subterranean.

McDevitt has been an English teacher, a naval officer, a customs officer, and a Philadelphia taxi driver. He is married to the former Maureen McAdams, and resides in Brunswick, Georgia.

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