Empires: Extraction by Gavin Deas

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Empires: Extraction by Gavin Deas

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: You may be sitting comfortably in your seat, but we are not alone. Not only do we have to contend with one aggressive alien race, but three of them. Rees is one of a chosen few who know what is going on, but it appears there is little he can do about it. Join him in this mixture of intelligent and military science fiction.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 336 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575129009

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I will take my hat off to any author or authors who partake of experimental fiction; trying to do something a little differently to push new ground. However, I will jam that hat right back onto my head if said book forgoes the basic need to entertain in preference of being something 'Meaningful'. Gavin Deas, a combination of authors Gavin Smith and Stephen Deas, have tried to do something different, but does it work?

Empires: Extraction and Empires: Infiltration tell the story of a duo of alien races as they fight over Earth. The two books can be read separately, but if read together they paint a narrative from both sides. However, before you can read both books, you have to finish one of them first. In my case this was Extraction, a book that follows the alien race The Weft and SAS member Rees. The Weft stumble across Earth when they discover strange readings coming from the backwards planet. Meanwhile, Rees finds himself part of a task force investigating strange 'Scary Clown' like creatures that seem to be able to vanish into thin air and have incredibly powerful weapons.

It is hard to pinpoint what type of science fiction 'Extraction' is. The book is separated quite cleanly between the cerebral science fiction of the Weft and the military science fiction of Rees and company. The perspective of the Weft is told almost exclusively from the minds of sentient spaceships. They observe Earth from Space and discuss events happening on the surface. It is up to Rees to actually partake of events and for large portions of the book he does not even know what he is fighting.

It is an inherent problem in invasion fiction that the hero rarely knows what on Earth is happening off Earth. However, more than in most cases Extraction also does not inform the reader. We learn that there are alien races other than the Weft, but only capture glimpses of them. It is a deliberate ploy by co-authors Smith and Deas to make both books in the series synchronous, therefore you are never going to know what is truly happening until you have read both.

This is all well and good, but for the first half of Extraction you are left as confused as the human characters. What is going on? It is not helped that the two types of genre are so opposed; intelligence one minute, mindless the next. I also found the liberal use of extreme adult language a little much at times. If I am meant to believe that sentient beings are floating in space, I am perfectly capable of suspending my disbelief when it comes to the vocabulary of soldiers.

Although, I had issues with Extraction there is one major scene in the book that is excellent. Once the action kicks in there is some brilliantly realised military science fiction on offer. I fear that many people may struggle to reach this far into the book. The Weft themselves are not that easy to relate to; they lack similar emotions to humans. This artificial intelligence way of acting makes more sense after reading Infiltration as The Pleasure are a far more Man-like race.

As I embarked on reading the sister novel, Empires: Infiltration, I wondered if all the gaps that were in Extraction would be filled? I have already found that the second book flows slightly better as I am aware of what is coming up. It is certain that both books should be read one after the other to get a true understanding of what Smith and Deas are trying to do, but for this to work both books need to stand on their own. At times Extraction does not and it is only the excellent action sequences that stop it being below average.

More epic science fiction can be found in The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson, but for something that is actually fun try Lock In by John Scalzi instead.

Buy Empires: Extraction by Gavin Deas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Empires: Extraction by Gavin Deas at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Empires: Extraction by Gavin Deas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Empires: Extraction by Gavin Deas at Amazon.com.


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