The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson
|The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: In space no one can hear you blink your eyes to keep you awake. Welcome to the Spiral Arm, a new Universe created by Kevin J Anderson and filled with many characters and adventures. Will this Space Opera sing?|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 672||Date: June 2014|
|Publisher: Audible Studios|
|External links: Author's website|
From my experience Opera should be left to fans of the art form, or BBC4. However, there is one sort of opera that I will take notice of, the Space Opera – a term that encompasses science fiction on an epic scale e.g. Dune. Starting an all-new Space Opera is a daunting task for both reader and writer. In ‘The Dark Between the Stars’, Kevin J Anderson not only had to create new worlds full of interesting characters but we the reader have to get our head around all the concepts at once. Therefore, having the story told from the point of view of up to twenty different people is probably not the wisest thing to do.
‘Dark’ is book one of a new saga set in the Spiral Arm, a science fiction universe shattered by war and looking to rebuild relationships. The disparate groups are starting to rebuild alliances, but old fears are hard to quell and a new threat is on the horizon. Follow space travellers, scientists, entrepreneurs, royalty and many others as they tell their own story and that of ‘The Saga of the Shadows’.
I am all for a science fiction universe to be rich in content and vivid in scope, but there is detail and there is extraneous detail. Anderson is a stalwart of the science fiction genre, but he often works within the confines of already established universes e.g. ‘Dune’, ‘The X Files’. Here he is given open reign to create something from scratch and it feels like he has taken all the ideas he had as a frustrated tie-in novelist and crammed them into one story.
Ambition should not be discouraged, but it should be handled carefully. ‘Dark’ is a massive book and in turn a very long audiobook. Each chapter starts with a different character's name and the following 20 minutes or so tells their story. As Anderson develops the universe further he introduces more and more characters, getting up to about twenty individuals. Many of these individuals do not interact at all; therefore you are getting several story arcs that are yet to interlock. This is all very ‘Game of Thrones’, but whilst that series keeps the pace up, ‘Dark’ lags on occasion and you find yourself stuck with an uninteresting character and you just want to go back to the few that do excite.
There is a lot of detail and prose in ‘Dark’ so it is going to be a challenge for anyone given the task of narrating all 600+ pages. Thankfully, Mark Boyett is more than up to the task. Some of his more bland narration is as much down to Anderson’s writing style as it is Boyett’s ability. When he is asked to narrate as over twenty different people he is able to make characters distinct from one another to bring the story to life (and this is sorely needed at times).
There is a lot of book for your money with ‘Dark’ and any pleasure you glean from it will be determined by your love of the Space Opera/Saga genre. If you are a fan there is certainly enough going on here to interest you and plenty of detail. However, non-fans will grow tired with the overly complex universe building and abundance of characters. There are classic Space Operas out there that would be a far better place to enter the genre with; Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ (as mentioned earlier) is a prime example.
We also have a review of Anderson's Terra Incognita: The Key to Creation.
We think you'll like Empire of Silence (Sun Eater) by Christopher Ruocchio better. You might also like to try The Edge of the World by Kevin J Anderson, Chaos Space (Sentients of Orion) by Marianne De Pierres and Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner. You might enjoy The Unique Creation by Heath A Hague.
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