This is a series of novels probably written in the last 15-20 years. I read them about 8 years ago.

The future Earth has many problems but it is not a dystopia. A means of FTL is discovered. It is easy to run (most ships require only a single crew member) but expensive to operate - Earth only builds and finances a very small number of the ships. The explorer corps (not capitalized because I do not think this is its proper name) is a very small group. Over time, it has grown smaller as Earth becomes more self-interested and less interested in paying the steep cost of learning about "what's out there."

The protagonist is a woman (who I think was petite and pretty but not beautiful). She had feelings for her mentor pilot who died before the events of the novels in the series. The novels are about how she personally survives the many pitfalls of exploring the Universe essentially by herself during her missions.

Some of the novels included these events (a line item per novel):

  1. Rescue stranded science team, who was running out of air.
  2. Witnessing the collision of a terrestrial and Jovian planet as well as attempting to rescue a portion of the inhabitants they discover there while observing.
  3. Investigating a giant alien artifact discovered by the explorer corps.
  4. Investigate why stars are exploding for an unexplained reason and why that reason seems to be approaching the Earth (maybe in conjunction with #3).

I can almost visualize the name of the author and/or the book names but it is buried just a bit too far back in my mind.

  • Maybe Jack McDevitt's Academy Series. There are Omega clouds that destroy developed civilizations, the second book deals with a planetary collision. Not solo exploring, though.
    – eshier
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 16:00
  • Yup, that is the Author's name! Write that into an answer for some sweet up points. The solo exploring might come from later books (I read 4-5 of them I think).
    – Jim2B
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 16:03
  • The names at the back of my mind was her moniker "Hutch" and Jack McDevitt.
    – Jim2B
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Per comment, this is the Academy Series by Jack McDevitt.

  1. The Engines of God (1994)
  2. Deepsix (2001)
  3. Chindi (2002)
  4. Omega (2003)
  5. Odyssey (2006)
  6. Cauldron (2007)
  7. StarHawk (2013)
  8. The Long Sunset (2018)

The (extensive) summary on Wikipedia of the first book, The Engines of God is summarized as:

Xeno-archaeologists, and interstellar pilot Priscilla Hutchins [Hutch], attempt to unravel the mysteries surrounding tremendous monuments left near several habitable worlds in the solar neighborhood.

It also includes this line:

At one point it appeared as if they would run out of air before rescue arrived, but Hutch managed to remedy the problem at the last minute.

And ends with:

The implications were that the Omega clouds menace the entire galaxy, and the only way to escape them is to leave the galaxy entirely. In fact, the cycle of the clouds meant that they would be upon Earth in just 1,000 years.

The only one I've read is Deepsix where Hutch visits a planetary collision, then gets stuck on the terrestrial planet.

The summary for Odyssey includes this quote:

It is set in the 23rd century and "explores the immorality of big business and the short-sightedness of the American government in minimizing support for space travel."

Likewise, Cauldron starts with

Humanity now generally disregards spaceflight, and space exploration is in massive decline.

  • I think when I was reading them, I had read the (then) latest book: Omega. I always intended to return to them but I discovered several other series to occupy my time (David Weber books mostly). By the time I finished the other series, I had forgotten this author's name.
    – Jim2B
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:20
  • @Jim2B I freely admit, every time I think about going back and reading them to see the whole series, I have to figure out the name again.
    – eshier
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 19:43

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