Brentwood, MO, United States | Member Since 2010
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.
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