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Book Review: Out of the Dark by David Weber

By Edited Nov 1, 2016 0 2

Book: Out of the Dark

Author: David Weber

ISBN: 978-0-330-53495-6

David Weber is a predominately military science fiction writer whose most well known books are the Honor Harrington series, and associated novels and short stories set in the same universe, the "Honorverse."

Out of the Dark is a new novel based around an alien invasion of Earth set in the near future.

The original scouts for the Hegemony were horrified by what they saw when they first came to Earth. This was in 1415, and the Battle of Agincourt in which Henry V of England destroyed a superior French force led by Constable Charles d'Albret was what they observed. The scouts were peaceful herbivores, and such bloodshed was anathema to them.

Out of the Dark
Some six centuries later, another race of the Hegemony, the Shongari, considered to be bloodthirsty carnivores by most of the other member races, has been granted colonisation rights over Earth - colonisation rights with a similar meaning to those which European countries got over the Americas and Africa. They had expected humans to be at best experimenting with black powder weapons. The actual technology level came as a bit of a shock. The Shongari, because of this unexpected level of technology, launch extensive kinetic energy weapon strikes against as much of Earth's armed forces and bases and government as they can find, killing about a third of the Earth's population as a side effect.

The book revolves around several major characters, some of whom have lost much in the initial kinetic bombardment, as they fight against the Shongari invaders. Up to now, the story is pretty standard fare.

Stories about aliens invading Earth are hardly new in science fiction. H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds was not only one of the earliest science fiction books - it actually pre-dates the genre - but also one of the first books featuring aliens attempting to conquer Earth. The concept has been very popular in all forms of science fiction since.

The aliens finding the actual conquest rather harder than they initially expected is also not uncommon, with humans refusing to admit they have been defeated. Humans also proving to be more technologically advanced than expected has been used before.

Where the difference lies is in the "twist." This isn't a unique twist, but I know of only one other alien invasion story with a similar twist, although a different execution. It is possible to figure the twist out, especially if you read the promotional blurb on the back of the book, and have some related knowledge, so no precise mention of the information that allows this to be deduced will be made. Avoiding reading the blurb on the back of the book, or in promotional writings, will help prevent this twist being realised too early in the book. The twist provides an unexpected slant on the overall story.

Without this twist, there is nothing really to make the Out of the Dark stand out from the many similar books of this type. It's a good enough read anyway, if you enjoy this type of story, but it's the twist that makes it stand out from the rest.
Out of the Dark
Amazon Price: $20.75 $7.00 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 1, 2016)
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Comments

May 1, 2012 11:59am
Introspective
"War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells is a classic and such a good book. "Out of the Dark" doesn't sound quite as interesting - even the "twist," which you say is not unique, is not intriguing enough for me to want to read. Thank you for your book review.
May 1, 2012 12:12pm
egdcltd
The most annoying thing was that, if you have a fairly reasonable level of knowledge, it was possible to guess the twist from the blurb on the back cover. It annoys me when they do that.
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