- File Size: 2732 KB
- Print Length: 432 pages
- Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (April 1, 2014)
- Publication Date: April 1, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00J90EXUU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,301,218 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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About the Author
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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The two primary players in the book are a pair of top level aristocrats, the son of the big cheese who runs the hereditary monarchy, and a lesser noblewoman, possessed of a genetic ability to control the bio-constructs (AIs?) who are the personalities of interstellar spacecraft. She hits the bricks after graduation to avoid having her piloting ability surgically transferred to the boss's son, and winds up in the desert mining area of the planet.
Suddenly, an artillery barrage from nowhere reduces her family's desert holdings to rubble and weaponless, carnivorous, aliens (imported marine life forms improbably altered to be desert fighters) pop out of apparently randomly located subterranean eggs. From this point Dark Space is largely the story of the displaced population of the desert mines pursued across the hostile landscape. The planetary prince does some obligatory growing up, conspiracies are uncovered in part, and the interactions of the god-chosen are explored.
The book does generate some sense of wonder at the world-view of the characters and their technical/cultural setting. Italian words scattered in the English dialog are confusing, but the overriding fault in the book is its temporal twisting, ala Iain M. Banks, but far less expertly executed.
The two aristos graduate together. The male begins a substantial career in the planetary police and appears to pass an extended period before reuniting with the female protagonist, who has had only a few days' worth of adventure since graduation. Again, in the middle of the story, we are present for the playback of a recording of a secret negotiation some time in the past. In the last quarter of the book we are suddenly present for the actual conversation. The time distortion is distracting and seems an artifice to make the story seem deeper and more complex.
Dark Space isn't uninteresting, but it has shortcomings that distract from the stream of the story.
I ended up liking this trilogy, although it was strange and, for the most part, none of the characters became likeable. The reason is that as the storyline built up, normally selfish characters were faced with choices where they had to decide if they were going to care about more than themselves. Seeing how this played out and who stepped up to the plate, with what results was engaging. In the end, the character most willing to make a self-sacrifice was completely unexpected.
It's dark and it's not a "feel good" book trilogy, but it was still worth reading. One note of caution is that the second book in the series decided to throw in several pornographic scenes for no reason that mattered to the plot.
The first parallel story is the one that held me the most. Mira is a young woman just graduating. She has inherited the "pilot gene" and will soon merge with the "biozoon" of a star ship. But she is a woman, and the society believes only men should have this talent. The plan is to somehow remove this genetic capability from her and give it to the heir to the throne. She escapes, returning to her home city, just as an apparently pointless invasion of dreadful creatures begins. We follow her as her story drifts in and out of the other main stories.
The second parallel story is of the young heir who was to receive her talent. This was not something he wanted. Actually, in many ways, he is the most interesting character. He appears to be a total jerk, but sometimes, in his heart, you can see something better.
The third parallel story involves some people who are "in training" to communicate with the God. Apparently, the God gives them tasks that they must achieve.
Finally, we also follow the original idiot who discovered the entity. He will probably be the key to the whole thing, but who knows? Because this book is so good, it both satisfies and leaves you panting for more!!
It's multi layered, gritty, realistic and being a trilogy you know there is more to come after you put it down, which is excellent news.
I won't try and describe the plot, you can divine that from the dust jacket, but will say this is medium-tech sci-fi with the spice of space opera intrigue and lashings of well fleshed characters. One of which, Mia Fedor, can be a touch frustrating as she sometimes curls into a ball and tries to ignore her world crashing down around her, but those moments are nice counterpoints to her privilged upbringing living a life less than ordinary. Plus, it's not US-centric in the way much sci-fi is, but adopts the POV of an Italian hierarchy seriously downstream from our present time.
Altogether good solid fun with fast pacing that does not make the mistake of assuming that enough action can paper over poorly written characters.
Top international reviews
Araldis is the home to the Cipriani families. Colonised only a handful of generations ago, it is a dry, unforgiving world with little to offer but its mineral wealth. The technological level of the planet is not high, with only a few of the more advanced technologies being used by the familia that can afford it. The mining operations are run with mechanical technology, principals of which have been around for hundreds of years.
Mira Fedor is a baronessa, descended from the Pilot line with the ability to fly biozoons (biological/AI starships). As she is due to graduate from Studium and take up her birthright as pilot of Insignia, the flag ship of the ruling family, things do not go to plan. Instead of being announced as the Pilot First, it is Trinder Pelligrini, the son of the current Principe, that is given the honour even though he does not possess the ability. Mira flees before her heritage is taken from her and given to Trin, gaining travel back to her home in the dry lands of Araldis through not entirely legal means.
Trin, the Principe's son, is being punished for his behaviour - he has killed an Uuli through his incompetence and drunkenness. For this he is sent to work, stuck in a tiny corner office with little to do and no instructions. He starts digging and finding information that his father would not want made public. He is then sent off elsewhere to work as an aide to the chief of security in a remote mining town in Araldis' dry lands. Not competent in much, Trin is more of a liability to them than anything else, barely earning any respect for his role in saving a life during a fire. He is given the one task he does not want: to go to villa Fedor and find out about Mira's whereabouts. Even though it was not his wish to become Pilot First, he must still follow the orders so he can gain her genetic heritage.
It is here that both Trin and Mira find themselves when things go wrong on Araldis. An invasion is taking place: deadly Saqr have been modified to withstand the conditions on Araldis and are hunting and killing everyone in sight: nobody is safe. Together they must find somewhere safe, somewhere that they can get help to fight this threat in the hope that Araldis can be saved.
Dark Space is a book that has been sitting on my shelf since its release, not because I didn't want to read it, but because other things just got in the way. Now I've finished it I'm very glad I did, it's an enjoyable book that is a very satisfying read. The plot is slow to gather pace, but during these early sections of the book we get a very in depth look at life for Mira and Trin, both very different characters in different situations.
The sections where we follow Mira are more about her struggle after fleeing the Studium when she finds out that she must give up her birthright. From there things go donwhill for her: her home is destroyed and her sister dead, she is left with a 'bino and korm that she must care for, all while trying to find somewhere safe. Her situation is not very nice and although the character is a little annoying at times, in the context of the story and her history, it is written well enough not to be too bleak and miserable.
Trin on the other hand starts out as a little s***. He cares for no one but himself and can't quite believe that he has to actually do things for himself. An annoying character would be an understatement, but luckily things do change. He does slowly grow up and accepts that things are different outside of his family, making me more sympathetic to him in his situation. Although he's not the most enjoyable character to read, he fits in perfectly well in this story.
As the story is much more focused on Mira and Trin, it is only through short sections that we see or hear of Sole, Tekton and Jo-Jo. Tekton and Jo-Jo are characters with a depth to them that I wouldn't expect with such short sections about them. I'd like to see where they progress to and perhaps a little more of their story taking priority. Sole is something that I was expecting to have a large role in the story, but it never is used to the potential it could be, a shame considering the possibilities - perhaps something that will be focused on more in the sequel.
The book as a whole works well, but I can't help but wonder whether it has been labelled as space opera when it really isn't. Focusing over 85% of the book on two characters on a small frontier planet doesn't scream out space opera to me. The building blocks are certainly there for the next books and I can only hope that the scope grows a little more to show the bigger picture. I can imagine that the series as a whole will fit nicely into the space opera genre, this one just isn't quite there though.
All in all this was a solid read with a good foundation and interesting, if not always likable, characters. The story has definitely got a lot of promise, something that I sorely would like it to live up to. At the end of the day, if you're looking for big scale space opera from page 1 then this isn't the book for you, but if you're willing to put in that effort for what could be a great series it could be very rewarding.