Infinity BeachBook - 2000
We are alone.
That is the verdict, after centuries of SETI searches and space exploration. The only living things in the Universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled by Earthlings, and the starships that knit them together.
No life has been found. No intelligent aliens, no strange ecologies, no awesome civilizations. Not even an amoeba, a lichen, a germ. The Universe is as sterile as a laboratory that was used only once.
Or so it seems, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine undertakes to find out what happened to her sister (and clone) Emily, who, after the final, unsuccessful manned SETI expedition, disappeared along with four others--one of them a famous war hero. But they were not the only ones to vanish: so did an entire village, destroyed by a still-unexplained explosion.
Following a few ominous clues (including a model of a starship that never existed) Kim discovers that the log of the ill-fated Hunter was faked. Something happened, out there in the darkness between the stars. Someone was murdered--and something was brought back. Something that still leaves ghostly traces in the night.
Kim is prepared to go to any length to find out the truth, even if it means giving up her career with Beacon, the most colossal--and controversial--of all the SETI projects. Even if it means stealing a starship. Even if it means giving up her only love.
Kim is about to discover the answer to life's oldest question. And she's going to like the answer even less than she imagines.
With his trademark ingenuity, scientific audacity, and narrative energy, Jack McDevitt has penned a mystery in which humankind is the detective--and the universe itself is the corpse. Infinity Beach takes us into the strange, yet strangely familiar, civilization of our own far future--and into the heart of a bold woman whose search for her family's secret leads her to the greatest discovery of all time.