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Out of the Dark Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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Q: Out of the Dark is an expansion of the novella you wrote for the Warriors anthology. What made you decide to turn the story into a full length novel?
Weber: There were several reasons, really. One was that I really liked the story and felt that in the novella I’d been forced to neglect too much of the rest of what was happening elsewhere on the planet in my concentration on Stephen Buchevsky, Mircea Basarab, and Romania. A second reason was that Tom Doherty really liked Out of the Dark and thought it would make a good expansion, possibly even the first book in a new series. A third reason was that it let me write “near-future” science fiction, which I don’t usually get to do, and that was a lot of fun.
Q: Out of the Dark is a detailed account of resistance to an alien invasion, with multiple battle scenes from multiple viewpoints. How do you approach writing these scenes?
Weber: I think the first requirement for writing a battle scene from multiple viewpoints is to know what happens in the battle. The second requirement is to know the characters who are going to provide your viewpoints. Generally, before I start writing the actual scene, I know basically how a battle is going to progress but don’t know all of the details. And since the characters that provide my viewpoints often appear only in “their” battle scene, I don’t know all the details about them before I start writing the scene, either. I do have to have a general feel for who they’re going to be and what their background is, just as I have to have the “skeleton” of the battle firmly in mind, but it’s still pretty general. And if it’s a land battle, especially, I have to have the terrain nailed down very firmly before I begin writing, as well.Once I have the general course of the battle planned and the basic character traits, history, and attitudes in mind for the participants from both sides, the battle develops as a back-and-forth exchange. One side acts. My viewpoint character(s) on the other side experience the consequences of that action, and act or react. Sometimes there’s a cascade of actions from one side without an actual response from the other side, but the “receiving” side still experiences the results. The nature of the character determines how he or she personally perceives those results, of course, and hopefully the result for the reader is a fully developed perception of what’s going on from both sides. One thing that helps me do multiple-viewpoint battle scenes is my belief that it’s necessary to “play fair” with both sides of the engagement. Both sides have to be “real people,” experiencing real consequences of what, after all, is a pretty horrible event, and trying to get “inside the heads” of people trapped in something like that adds texture and verisimilitude. It also acquaints the reader with characters on both sides rather than turning one side into cardboard targets whose deaths are suffering are thus somehow less important.
Q: One of the families in Out of the Dark, the Dvoraks, survives the invasion because of a hidden compound in the backwoods of North Carolina. Any personal inspiration for that? Do you have a secret survivalist cabin hidden away somewhere?
Weber: No, I don’t have a secret survivalist cabin hidden away somewhere. Sometimes I wish I did.The location for the Dvorak/Wilson cabin is pretty close to someplace I spent several summers back in my late teens, which was…let’s just say it was “several decades” ago and leave it at that. I’ve always loved that area, and I decided I’d go back there for the book. As for the characters, there are bits and pieces of quite a few people—including my own family—in the Dvorak and Wilson families. I’m a South Carolina boy, after all, and I’ve been hunting in several of the places touched on in the book. As far as the Dvorak & Wilson Indoor Shooting Range is concerned, let’s just say that my real-life brother-in-law and I share a lot of the proprietors’ interest in firearms. You could sort of think of it as a wish fulfillment in an alternate universe, in that respect, at least.
Q: Many of your science fiction novels—Honor Harrington, the Safehold Saga, and now this new offering—feature aliens of some kind. Do you believe in alien life?
Weber: I think the existence of alien life has to be pretty much inevitable given the size and scope of the physical universe. And I think that anywhere there’s life, there’s the potential for intelligent life to arise. I don’t know how high probability an event intelligence represents, and I don’t think we can know that until and unless we have some comparative intelligences to look at. At the moment, everything we think about intelligence life is conditioned and constrained by our limitation to a one-planet, single-species perspective. We can speculate, we can argue probabilities, and we can belabor one another over the virtues of competing theories about the evolution of alien intelligences, but we simply can’t know. As far as I’m aware, we still can’t put a finger on the point in the development of the human species at which one can say “This is where intelligent life began.” Until we can do that in our own case, and until we’ve been able to look at the track record of some other intelligent species, meaningful speculation on the frequency with which intelligent life arises — and, even more, on how that intelligence may be similar to or different from our own — is really impossible. And, frankly, I think that the probability of two intelligent species encountering one another at roughly the same level of technology is low unless both represent expanding interstellar civilizations. How long has each of the species been a tool-user? How rapidly or slowly has their technology advanced? Did someone during the equivalent of their Roman Empire develop the scientific method and kick off their species’ industrial revolution 2,000 years earlier in their home world’s evolution? How “inevitable” has the pattern of our own technological development been, and how might some other species’ development differ from the pattern ours has followed?Because of the distances involved on the interstellar scale, I think meetings between intelligent species are going to be rare. And I also think most of them are going to be the equivalent (only more so) of cannon-armed Europeans encountering hunter-gatherer societies or perhaps pre-iron civilizations in the New World. The latter, in some ways, is what happens to the Shongari in Out Of the Dark, actually. With a twist, of course.
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is the first thing that has managed to make me regret the purchase of my Kindle. If I'd bought this book in harcover I would have been able to return it immediately after reading. Or at least been able to put to to some a more suitable (and flammable) use.
Most of the other posters here have covered the problems with this book in greater detail than I'll go into. Heavy-handed Deus Ex Machina & unusually poor character development for David Weber come most closely to mind.
When I first read the teasers and dust jacket some months before release, I was generally enthusiastic about this book. Vampires were a weird crossover into military sci-fi; however, given the quality of David's other work I thought it could work. The concept of aliens invading a planet, and finding out after the fact that there was in fact a second , and more dangerous, sentient species lurking amongst and preying upon the first seemed like it could make for a great story.
What I expected from the book was development of a universe in which a species of predators that live among us are forced into the open by an alien invasion in order to preserve themselves. I expected, for lack of a better turn of phrase, 'rational vampires'. Vampires whose existence was developed over the course of the novel (instead of the final chapters) and whose abilities and origins were explained. I expected tension between vampire characters who view humanity as prey, and the humans they have to work with to continue to exist.Read more ›
I felt a sense of satisfaction and savage glee when chapter 12 rolled around and earth hits back. The F-22 attack was what sold me, I had to get the book. I envisioned a desperate battle against overwhelming odds, with humanity banding together and fighting back. The F-22's and other aircraft hiding out and running guerilla campaigns against the alien invaders like in the Terminator books.
I recieved the book yesterday afternoon and it only took me a couple hours to read it. (The chapters are only a couple pages each)
Here I was thinking he'd sneak a nuke into a LZ, maybe use a nuclear sub, capture some alien tech and reverse engineer some of it...
Then it went all downhill from there. I can see his point, take out long distance communications along with every leader and you knock out C&C coordination for guerilla groups. The orbital retaliation strikes is a nice twist, and people being people panic setting in and flooding the countryside.. yeah that make sense. That and the whole exploring of human psychology from the invader's side I can get.
What bothered me was there was only a token exploration of the alien tech by the humans. Nothing is done with it. Then as I got closer and closer to the end and the climax built I was excited when humanity started hitting back totally out of the blue. Bases being taken down by ghosts. Who were theses super soldiers? Robinson and a select group of special forces using Darpa weapons? Aliens like the invaders were thinking?
The twist (and boy is it a doozy) is out of left field. FAAAAR out of left field and a terrible one at that.Read more ›
1) Weber has this infuriating need to give background exposition on everything and anything. For example, Weber devotes a whole chapter to describing the location of a cabin. That's fine if the reader is treated to some literary imagery or if the cabin is somehow central to how the rest of the story develops. Instead, we find out what roads and interstates lead to the cabin, what county it's in, the names of local landmarks, the area's population in 2002, the elevation, how twisty the roads are, how much rainfall it gets, etc, etc.
2) While you're trudging your way through Weber's GPS-savant musings, you'll also have to contend with the excruciating and endless technical fetishism. Did we really need to know how much power an in-line Francis turbine produces or how heavy standard NATO ammunition is? (You'll be happy to know that the in-line Francis turbine produces 7 horse power and 120 kilowatt hours daily! And that the standard NATO 7.62 mm calibre weighs 147 grains, twice that of a 5.65 mm round with three times energy transfer to target at extended range! Yaye! Yippee! These specifications are sooooo much better than a plot or tension or a narrative arc!!!)
3) As far as characters go, Weber is adept at fashioning all of the major characters from the same cardboard stock and then decorating them with different names, genders, ethnicities, species, locations and physical attributes. It's as if the idea of using character development was not just superfluous, but also repugnant and offensive.
Anywhoo, those are the book's pros. Everything else is pretty much a train-wreck and I'll leave it at that...
Except for one last thing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really? You're going to end this with a Deus Ex Machina? Ugh!Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
What happens when a race of 'hunters' bent on conquest runs into the nastiest race predators in the galaxy. Us vs. them. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carl Nelson
It's just about the perfect blend of MilSF, cool aliens*, and competent guys** with great action scenes and a thoroughly satisfying ending. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kirsten Edwards
DW is a very prolific SyFy writer. I have followed the Honor Harrington series since conception. This addition of humans and an age old nemesis Count Dracula combiners with the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I really hate to give a Weber book a single star (especially when I've given worse books two stars), but this really seemed like an after thought on Weber's part with a lot of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by J. Larsen
I want to give this 4 stars but I just can't. Though this is a 4-star book (maybe even 5-stars) I just can't give it because it took almost to the end of the freaking book for the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Booklover
It is with great regret that I write this review. I am something of a Weber fan. I have read all of the main line Honor Harrington books, and for all of his sins regarding endless... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Robert A. Porter