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The Real Story: The Gap into Conflict Paperback – June 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Series: Gap
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (June 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553295098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553295092
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,038,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Real Story is a short but intense tale set in a future in which humans travel between the stars using "gap drives," controllable brain implants are punishable by death, and a private company called the United Mining Company runs law enforcement for all of known space. Ensign Morn Hyland lives aboard a police ship with most of her family, chasing down pirates and other illegals who prey on the weak or smuggle goods into forbidden space.

Through a strange turn of events, one particularly nasty perpetrator ends up with Morn as his companion--or at least that's the way it appears to the folks at the space station's bar. Why would a young, strong, beautiful police officer associate with a crusty, murdering pirate? People watch with interest as Morn appears to fall in lust with another racy illegal, Captain Nick Succorso. Morn and Nick must have plotted together to frame Angus and escape together, right? But the real story was quite different.

From Publishers Weekly

Donaldson ( The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant ) launches his new five-book series with a short futurist novel of almost no substance. The plot is presented in its entirety in the first chapter: Robin Hoodish space pirate Nick Succorso cleverly steals the beautiful female prisoner Morn Hyland from the brute space pirate Angus Thermopyle, and has him thrown in jail. The rest of the book retells the same story in more detail. But it is mightily dull detail--Donaldson imparts neither warmth or humanity to his characters; it is all but impossible to care what befalls them. Information about their backgrounds serves as mere padding; their pasts rarely bear a relationship to their current actions, which often seem rash or out-of-character. Nor does the author delve far into the technology or culture of the society in which faster-than-light travel afflicts some with irreparable brain damage. A Zone Implant can turn such a person into a zombie, to protect his shipmates, but is otherwise illegal. From high technicalities to simple human truths, Donaldson has much to develop in sequels.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Probably the best sci-fi series ever written.
Mr Mark Cleaver
Much of the books are really spent with the reader trying to figure out what is actually going on with the truth only revealed at the very end.
Mark Joshi
No depth of characters and story line is obvious.
david hoskinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Samildanach Emrys on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
'The Real Story' is simple and short - you will glean this much, at least, from the other reviews. And indeed, as a stand-alone novel, this book is lacking is depth, character development (with the exception of one character, and though we come to understand his decisions, his motives are largely unrevealed) and a satisfying conclusion, there are two points that are vital to note. These two points are apparently contradictory, but I'll attempt to explain:

1) This was written as a short novella. It wasn't intended to be the first in a series, and as such it doesn't bear many of the traits usually associated with the first book in a series, such as hints of larger plots or other elements designed to draw the reader back for book 2. As a stand-alone novel, Donaldson kept this in a drawer, unpublished, for some years. Only as part of a larger series does it work, yet it doesn't read like the beginning of a series. Once you understand this, the flaws are less glaring.

2) In apparent contradiction of point 1, above, please understand that it IS the first in a series. The series itself is probably the best science fiction I've ever read, but it really doesn't get going until mid-way through book 2. Again, once you accept that most of the "good stuff" comes after 'The Real Story, it's easier to bear to flaws.

Though I don't seek to excuse any form of weakness here (after all, whatever it was intended to be and however great the rest of the series, the first book should still be complete and engaging), I do seek to prevent people being deterred by the lukewarm reviews of this first installment. It's not bad by any means, merely incomplete. I would issue a couple of warnings though: Firstly, this book is grim and brutal; be prepared. And secondly, Donaldson tells character-based stories in fantastic settings - if you're looking for detailed high technology and hard science, this might not be your scene.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Elihu D. Feustel on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the first of five books centering around three central characters, each balanced and very well developed (with serious weaknesses, as all of Donaldson's characters seem to have). At times, you might find yourself sympathizing for the antagonist, and feeling unsure of who you want to "root" for. While each book is separate on its own (and each has a prologue summarizing prior books, like Covenant), it is best treated as a single story.

There is sexual content in the series that some may find offensive, especially in the first book. It definitely adds to the story, and the emotional ride Donaldson delivers. If you read the "Thomas Covenant" series, you know how his books sometimes make you feel like you were run over by a Mack-Truck, and this series will definitely do that to you - but there are highs as well as lows (compared to Covenant, which was mostly depressing to me).

The story line of the series is fascinating - much like Strachzynski's "Babylon 5" series, the characters are greatly influenced by political events, maneuvered like pawns until they move in unexpected manners. The first book is a "quickie", more of an introduction to the series. As the series progresses, it becomes increasingly complicated (in a delicious way). It's not hard-core sci-fi, in that the technology is not the focus of the story - it could take place in submarines or pirate ships in the ocean almost as easily.

I enjoyed this series a lot more than The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Another good read by Donaldson is his collection of short stories, "Daughter of the Regal", which I'd highly recommend.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew B. on December 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book should be considered as the first 272 pages of a 2004-page epic. A bit wordy for a preface, it doesn't fare well on its own (see other reviews). But both the Second Chronicles and the Mordant's Need series were the same way -- not really intended to be read as independent books.

If you don't mind spoilers, look at the reviews of the other 3 books -- standard Donaldson stuff (some people dislike his style, some prefer his fantasy work, etc.)

I am a fan of *both* sci-fi and fantasy. While I like good writing, a good story pleases me more (which is why I can enjoy Asimov).

Another reviewer compared the Gap series to the Babylon 5 TV series. I see these commonalities:

- a single main plot across the whole series

- humans are both the "good guys" and the "bad guys"

- the "good guys" aren't always that good

It's dark. It's full of violence. It's not for the squeamish.

If you have read Donaldson's second book of short stories (Reave the Just) and were put off by the violence and depravity there, you should probably skip this series. Otherwise, buy the set and read them straight through.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I approach this book from a different perspective than most of the readers here. I read it last, whereas it is supposed to be the first book in the series. The problem with this book is that it has very little to do with the central conflict of the rest of the series. You could say it resembles Tolkien's _the Hobbit_, a lightweight story that serves as an introduction to a more serious epic.
People seem to be commenting a lot on the supposed misogyny of the book. Unfortunately, this is merely pointing to a creative problem which Donaldson had with this book, which he notes in his afterword. In fact, he considered leaving this book unpublished because he recognized this flaw, though he corrected it in later books. Donaldson's problem was that he couldn't seem to flesh out his other characters in the context of this book, and concentrated on Angus (who is a much smaller character in the rest of the series.) I never have problems with books, plays or films in which the protagonists are evil. If I did, I'd have to dismiss most of Shakespeare (Othello is a good example of what I mean) and much other great literature. The real problem with this book is the fact that Morn Hyland, the central protagonist of the rest of the series, isn't very well developed in this book. The book focuses exclusively on Angus, an unpleasant and evil character. (Of course, some people feel that rape shouldn't be discussed in books at all. If so, they should stay far away from Donaldson who writes about depressing and taboo topics. He also writes them far differently than, say Heinlein, you could easily compare Morn in later books to Heinlein's Friday, but the way the author's handle rape is different. I wonder if the reaction to a male protagonist being raped would be similar?
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