The Book Depository Out of the Dark by David Weber

4.2 out of 5 stars
The Book Depository Out of the Dark by David Weber
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Description: Out of the Dark : Paperback : St Martin's Press : 9780765363817 : 076536381X : 30 Aug 2011 : In the stunning launch of a new military-science fiction series, bestselling author Weber tells the tale of humanity's near-extinction by hostile aliens and of the surprising alliance that fights back. The Book Depository Out of the Dark by David Weber - shop the best deal online on thebookbug.co.uk

 

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Author: Marshall Lord

Rating: 5

Review: "Out of the Dark" is a science fiction novel by Daid Weber. MARMITE BOOK ALERT - I loved this but I suspect some readers are going to hate it. POSTSCRIPT ADDITION PART ONE - I originally thought this was a standalone novel, but there is now a sequel, "Into the light" which begins to hint at an explanation for the issue which for some readers will be their biggest difficulty with this story - how the ending could possibly be believable. The great majority of the book is military hard SF describing an alien invasion in the near future. However, in the last four chapters the story shifts genre and something very strange happens. With humanity facing extinction, an ancient and sinister foe which most modern people would have dismissed as a myth comes out of the dark to confront the invaders. The prologue of the book takes place on the date humans would call 25th October 1415 as an alien survey team from a very pacifist race has arrived in earth orbit to study what they regard as earth's primitive cultures. Shocked by the butchery they witness at the battle of Agincourt, they prepare a report designed to impress apon the council of all the starfaring races in the galaxy how savage these "humans" are. (It was a pretty horrible battle, and I can recommend1415: Henry V's Year of Glory for a good account of Agincourt in its historical context.) Little did the pacifist survey team know that, in one of the many ironies in the book, their report would directly cause the deaths of billions of sentient beings ... The story continues "about 600" earth years later: e.g. in the near future. The galactic "Hegemony Council" does not often give permission for member races to settle colonies on worlds which have an intelligent species. However, concerned at the long-term risk which humans might pose, and on the basis that "a race as bloodthirsty as the humans deserves what happens to them" the council gives the galaxy's only other intelligent aggressive species, the Shongairi, permission to invade Earth and set up a colony here. What happens next bears such a strong resemblance to Harry Turtledove's WORLDWAR quartet (link:Worldwar: in the Balance ) that some readers will be tempted to accuse Dave Weber of plagiarism. Like Fleetlord Avtar in Turtledove's books, the Shongairi commander arrives in Sol system expecting to find no opposition more dangerous than armoured knights with lances or longbowmen, only to discover that the planet has moved on much faster since the survey than the aliens expected. OK, it's not a new idea, but an invasion by aliens against whom we could put up no effective resistance at all would not make for a particularly interesting book. And there are comparatively few ways you can explain why any alien race would be daft enough to deploy the enormous resources required to send a planetary invasion fleet between the stars, to attack someone with the ability to put up much of a fight. Since you have to ship every soldier and weapon, every ounce of fuel and every round of ammunition over several light-years, interstellar invasion could only be profitable if the people you are invading are totally outclassed. A massive underestimate of how far the race being invaded might have advanced in the decades or centuries since their distant world was last surveyed, is one of the less unlikely reasons why a race advanced enough to travel between the stars might be stupid enough to do so and then attack someone they are not able to quickly and easily conquer. Although the idea of an invasion of earth by aliens who have sufficiently underestimated humanity that we are able to put up some kind of fight is hardly new, the execution of that idea in the writing of this novel is both well done and does have some original ideas. The Shongairi in this book are much nastier and less sympathetic than any Turtledove alien. I thought they were actually more plausible than "The Race" and much better written than the aliens in any previous David Weber book. "Out of the Dark" is also much more tightly edited and focussed than one of two of Dave Weber's recent massive doorstops. It packs a lot into 381 pages. There was a minor error on the dust jacket synopsis of the edition I bought which is not David Weber's fault but his publishers. Some twit at Tor Books included the line "humanity's cities lie in radioactive ruins." The word "radioactive" should not be there. Weber has the Shongairi invaders sensibly use kinetic weapons (e.g. dropping heavy objects from orbit) rather than nukes. A carefully aimed mass of metal or rock the size of a boulder dropped from orbit will create an explosion as devastating as a nuclear weapon but without the radioactivity. The reversal of fortune at the end of the book will strike some as a rather odd Deus ex Machina. And there is not even as much attempt to explain how an old legend could have a basis in scientific reality as in, say the comedy SF novelMclendon's Syndrome . So I suspect some readers are going to have problems with this book. But personally I thoroughly enjoyed it. POSTSCRIPT ADDITION PART TWO, JANUARY 2021 Weber has just brought out a sequel to this book called "Into the light" and it looks like this will become a series. That sequel includes the very beginnings of the explanation whose absence I complained immediately above in the original version of this review for what I described as a "rather odd Deus ex machina" in the plot twist at the very end. To elaborate, or even to give more than a very broad hint, would be a spoiler. I don't think it is a spoiler to remind anyone who is minded to criticise the ending of this book of Arthur C Clarke's Law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." But if you want to know why that law is relevant, you do need to read the next book.

 

Author: Amazon Customer

Rating: 3

Review: I'm probably not going to bother with book 2. It's a well-worn trope. Aliens invade and bite off more than they can chew. Despite having the high orbitals and killing half the world's population in their initial bombardment, the plucky human resistance fights back. Spoilers ahead! This is a pretty well written genre book. We've got weapons systems lovingly described and great combat. The hapless aliens are characterized pretty well, and I was almost expecting a "Footfall" moment where they roll over and submit. Then at the end It's Vampire Ex Machina. Dracula and his thralls wipe out the aliens, ride the shuttles up to orbit and take over the fleet without any problems. Now, mil sci-fi where the humans are rescued by Dracula? Sign me up. But sadly, Mr Weber managed to make it kind of a boring afterthought of a climax. Humans win, seize the enemy fleet and wipe out the enemy. Now they'll take the fight to the stars. How do you make that not exciting? Anyway, I'd give it a miss just to avoid the disappointment at the end. This one could have used some more beta readers, and an editor or two.

 

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