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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Friday, March 25, 2016


I like a rockin' good space opera as much as the next bloke...maybe more. Heck, I've written my own. This one didn't disappoint, in spite of its plot hole-riddled thesis.
Jasper T. Scott has written a sci fi series which starts (I believe) with DARK SPACE. There could be a prequel I don't know about.

If you don't want the spoilers, jump to the black section...:o)

Mr. Scott is obviously read by loads of people, as his thousands of reviews can attest to. I think we can thank a general willingness to suspend disbelief and actual science for that success (ie Star Wars, which this book resembles on many points). I have to say I enjoyed it in spite of the plot holes.

The book opens with the 'hero' (or in this case anti-hero) Ethan Ortane getting nabbed by a crime boss named Brondi. At first we think it's just because Ethan owes the man money. Later we find it's because Ortane has habitually flaunted the law as a drug mule and gone to prison for it. Brondi knows he's got a patsy handmade for his project. Apparently during that time Ortane had time to become a 5A ranked pilot (apparently rather passable), which stands him in extremely good stead.

Using Ethan's pretty co-pilot (about whom Ethan professes to care little since she's half his age) as a means to flog him into it, Brondi forces Ortane to don a disguise and wreck the troop ship Valiant, killing the 50,000 personnel aboard. To ensure success, he infects Ethan with a virulent phage.

To Ethan's stark credit, he was only going to scuttle the ship, allowing the crew to escape to safety. Except the phage took it all out of his hands. Brondi then swoops in for the kill, his plan all along. He intends to make himself supreme ruler of the last remaining shreds of humankind.

Ortane finally wakes up to what Brondi's doing and throws in with the enemy in a stellar display of tactics and flying. In the interim, he nearly gets all of his mates killed (including his female wingman, who hates him). He has, however, caught the eye of the Supreme Commander, who has inexplicably survived the phage without even a hazmat suit on. The SC reveals that he actually has seen through Ortane's disguise and has a few secrets of his own. They trot off together to mount a defence of the ragtag survivors, despite Ethan's having wasted almost the entire fleet single-handedly.

Grease factor of the main character: high (Jasper missed the lovable part IMHO, but I kind of like him inexplicably)
Space mechanics and Ordinance: great for a plane, laughable for a space vessel
Guts: manageable
Sex: zero
Venting suit survival: one 
Zero suit survival: two
Bad Language: thinly disguised
Character of it's main character: missing in action
Reasons for his behaviour: insufficient to sustain that kind of loss of life
Plot holes: like driving down our road in the Spring
Humanity of number one: meh
Possibilities if he can see the Wizard and get a heart: fair
Believability that he could have gotten to be such a good pilot running drugs and gotten a military rating, no less: low
Believability that he could sleep well after offing 50,000 of the people keeping the overwhelming alien threat at bay: laughable
Possibility that humans wouldn't have immediately jumped on the whole alien cloaking device: Pa-lease.
Possibility of actually staying out of at least a court martial for the aforementioned slaying and resultant mass destruction of troop property and multiple ships: pitiable
Plot twists: decent

In spite of all that, I enjoyed the story.

I'm giving it four firing reticles after suspending plenty of disbelief. I'd read the next one on sheer hope that Mr. Ortane gets a heart and a compass. Come Patsy.

You can purchase DARK SPACE and it's brothers on Amazon here. Happy flying!

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