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This was another debut military sci-fi novel, this time by Evan C. Currie. However, unlike the "Man of War" series I recently started as well, this one is not only quite clearly a "first novel", it is also clear that it was self-published first. Although it gets better near the end, the first part of the book is amateurish and difficult to continue listening to. It shows why good editors are so important in fiction writing. The author makes a number of choices in the story that simply are too much to possibly believe. Feeling like a kind of cheap Star Trek copy, the novel starts with humanity's first faster-than-light ship's maiden voyage, that then quickly turns into a Jack Campbell-style military sci-fi romp. But the jump is way too sudden, and the situation utterly unbelievable. Almost immediately upon arriving at Alpha Centauri, the ship responds to a distress signal in yet another system, which they blindly follow, after which continues one unlikely decision after another until this fleet is involved in full-scale battles with alien forces. It is simply not believable that such a captain would make decisions like this, not based on our current knowledge of military procedures and extensive and careful prototype testing.
While the book does get better later on (at least the space battle are well done), it can't make up for the strange and out of place decisions that are made by both the author and characters in the first half. Another seriously unbelievable element is in the type of "aliens" they run into, although I won't spoil that particular point. Ultimately if he wanted to write an exploration novel, then exploration should have dominated the theme of the book and the conflict kept small and realistic. If he wanted to write military space battles, then he should have introduced us to a world in which this was already feasible, not tacking it on to what was essentially an exploration mission. Some people might disagree with me and say that it worked for them. If so, then please continue reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series. I'll be stopping here, thanks.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful
Evan Currie represents a growing new species of author, one who transitions into a "traditional" publishing model after self-publishing several titles in eBook format. "Into The Black" is Currie's first novel to be recorded as an audio book and it leaves me itching for more.
Currie presents two "alien" races, one that is reminiscent of the bugs found in novels such as Starship Troopers and Ender's Game (though, as one of Currie's characters humorously points out in the book: all exo-armor ultimately comes across as bug-like because, "God just got it right with those guys"), and another that appears to be human. This gives the reader no room to wonder who the "good guys" are and who the "bad guys" are and comes across as just shy of contrived. However, the characters acknowledge this stretch of believability, at one point even joking about how much their situation compares to stereotypical science fiction plots.
The two major Earth-human advancements presented to the user are "CM" technology, allowing for the manipulation of apparent mass or inertia of objects big and small, and a faster than light drive called a "Transition Drive," a form of intersteller quasi-teleportation achieved by temporarily converting matter to super-luminous Tachyons. The Odyssey is Earth's first faster-than-light starship, while CM technology has been in use for some time. This is pretty obvious even without being told. The characters are distrustful and even disturbed by the effects of the Transition Drive, but demonstrate many ingenious uses for the CM technology that would be expected from decades of military use.
However, one thing that bothered me while reading this novel is that most characters display only token cultural resistance to each other before falling right into place as allies. Having just finished Stephen King's "11-22-63," which displays the vast cultural distance between 21st century New England and the 1950's American deep south, I found myself struggling to accept that two groups of humans separated by thousands of years of cultural divergence and a computer-translated language barrier would find each other's subtle jokes to be funny. But if Star Trek's William T. Kirk's good looks and charm transcend the lightyears, I think we can give Currie similar artistic license.
Currie is obviously a developing author, and with widespread availability of his works and the associated feedback, I have no doubt he will develop quickly. He does many things right. The technology he presents the reader with is believable and intriguing. There is room for improvement when it comes to character conflict, but Currie seems to acknowledge this fact, especially towards the end of the book. Here's to hoping the next book provides us with a bit more internal conflict among allies.
This book is available in many formats at a reasonable price and is a very quick read. I finished it in a single weekend without difficulty. Overall, despite it's few shortcomings, I found the book to be very intriguing and hard to put down. It's crammed with exciting space and futuristic ground battles and a few interesting characters. Like the first couple seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it's obvious the characters need to grow into their own a bit. But the book is far from a waste of time. It plants the seeds for a long and exciting series and I'm certainly looking forward to the next book in the series ("Hear of Matter"), due out in late 2012.
35 of 37 people found this review helpful
Good choice of narrator. Fantastic futuristic descriptions of technologies that are theoretically possible. Exploratory and militaristic. Unfortunately for me the, the dialogue can be very 'boys toys.'
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
My biggest problem with this is possibly the genre. I love science fiction. I don't mind a bit of war. I do like some real story. However this feels like an endless advert for the US Marine Corps - devoid of real feeling and story, full of gungho action types who spend all their time being soldiers and not much time doing anything else. Having listened to titles which really paint alternative cultures in interesting ways - this doesn't. And *spoiler* the crew's reaction to meeting aliens (lots of them) seems like vague interest and rampant paranoia rather than fascinated intrigue (in one case, with some justification).
I listened to about 30% of the whole thing, and I really tried to stick it. But for me (and I'm at odds with some others who possibly knew better than I what they were expecting) I had a "life is too short" moment, and decided to move onto something I would find more rewarding.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
Felt like a good sci fi tv series... But didn't break any expectations. Fun if you like military Raa Raa Raa.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
YES I WOULD - AS THE STORY LINE IS GOOD
What did you like best about this story?
THE CAPTAIN OF THE ODYESSY - HE WAS HUMAN
What does Benjamin L. Darcie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
HE WAS VERY GOOD WITH THE DIFFERENT VOICES AND CLEAR
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I COULD`VE LISTENED IN ONE SITTING - BUT IT WOULD`VE BEEN TOO LONG.
IT WAS EASY TO GET BACK INTO THE STORY AFTER A BREAK
Any additional comments?
THE ONLY THING I FOUND WAS THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN THE STORY LINE AND I GOT A LITTLE CONFUSED WITH WHO WAS WHO..