Monday, 30 April 2007

‘Dark Space’ – Marianne De Pierres

‘Dark Space’ is the first book in the new ‘Sentients of Orion’series by Marianne De Pierres, author of ‘Crash Deluxe’. Thanks to George Walkley, of Orbit Books, for sending me a copy to review.
The discovery of a God-like entity in space is linked to the carefully planned, and ruthlessly executed, invasion of the remote mining planet of Araldis. Baronessa Mira Fedor is caught up in the middle of this. Her future already stolen from her, by the corrupt ruling family, Mira must fight to stay alive and uncover the truth behind both the invasion and the very history of her home planet…
‘The Sentients of Orion’ has potential to become a very good series, De Pierres has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to create a convincing ‘far future’ landscape and has filled it with the ingredients required for an exciting space opera (talking spaceships, weird aliens etc). However ‘Dark Space’ lets the series down (before it has really begun) through weak characterisation and plot tangents that appear to detract from the main storyline. The character of Mira starts at a disadvantage by falling for the standard sci-fi/fantasy cliché of ‘heiress who loses everything’. Thereafter, her only real defining characteristic is to faint at inopportune moments. Don Trinder’s character starts on the road to redemption but throws it all away on an ill-timed decision to safeguard the family line, a decision that renders his character development almost pointless.
Attempts to explore the theme of gender/alien equality are overshadowed by the ongoing ‘invasion plot’ and appear at odds with the direction that the series is set to go in.
‘Dark Space’ is only the first book in an eventual series and there are signs that this series could be very good indeed. However, for me it failed to do what a series opener should really aim for; make the reader want to know what happens next. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong as the series progresses…

Four out of Ten

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