Beyond the confines of our small world, far from the glow of our star, lie a galaxy and universe much larger and more varied than anyone on Earth can possibly imagine. For the new NAC spacecraft Odyssey and her crew, the unimaginable facets of this untouched world are about to become reality.The Odyssey's maiden voyage is an epic adventure destined to make history.
Captain Eric Weston and his crew encounter horrors, wonders, monsters, and people; all of which will test their resolve, challenge their abilities, and put in sharp relief what is necessary to be a hero.
A first-rate military-science-fiction epic that combines old-school space opera and modern storytelling, Into the Black: Odyssey One is a riveting, exhilarating adventure with vivid details, rich mythology, and relentless pacing.
This was another debut military sci-fi novel, this time by Evan C. Currie. However, unlike the "Man of War" series I recently started as well, this one is not only quite clearly a "first novel", it is also clear that it was self-published first. Although it gets better near the end, the first part of the book is amateurish and difficult to continue listening to. It shows why good editors are so important in fiction writing. The author makes a number of choices in the story that simply are too much to possibly believe. Feeling like a kind of cheap Star Trek copy, the novel starts with humanity's first faster-than-light ship's maiden voyage, that then quickly turns into a Jack Campbell-style military sci-fi romp. But the jump is way too sudden, and the situation utterly unbelievable. Almost immediately upon arriving at Alpha Centauri, the ship responds to a distress signal in yet another system, which they blindly follow, after which continues one unlikely decision after another until this fleet is involved in full-scale battles with alien forces. It is simply not believable that such a captain would make decisions like this, not based on our current knowledge of military procedures and extensive and careful prototype testing.
While the book does get better later on (at least the space battle are well done), it can't make up for the strange and out of place decisions that are made by both the author and characters in the first half. Another seriously unbelievable element is in the type of "aliens" they run into, although I won't spoil that particular point. Ultimately if he wanted to write an exploration novel, then exploration should have dominated the theme of the book and the conflict kept small and realistic. If he wanted to write military space battles, then he should have introduced us to a world in which this was already feasible, not tacking it on to what was essentially an exploration mission. Some people might disagree with me and say that it worked for them. If so, then please continue reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series. I'll be stopping here, thanks.
29 of 29 people found this review helpful
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.
34 of 36 people found this review helpful
While one book does not a great, sweeping space opera (usually) make -- this book is a solid foundation for what could be a great series. . .in the tradition of Campbell's "Lost Fleet," or other similar series (Ian Douglas, John Ringo, William Dietz, David Weber, David Drake, John Scalzi). There are really good ideas here, and excellent battles in space. The seeds are also planted for what is coming next -- along with a number of really good "concepts" about technology.
I did not read earlier iterations of this book, just listened to the 'final' Audible version -- which I thoiught was EXCELLENT. The writing is not tight -- but tight is not what I think of as the 'be all and end all' in this type of "writ large"" type of opening salvo. And it seems clear that as this rolls out it will provide an opportunity for greater control of language and syntax. But this is no amateur venture by a mile. This is a fine story well written and well performed.
If you liked the Lost Fleet you will love this. If you enjoyed the Dietz takeoff on the Foreign Legion, you will also appreciate the sinilarities here.
I cannot wait for the next book -- and what more can you say about a new writer and series ????
43 of 46 people found this review helpful
I really do like sci-fi, and I was intrigued by the premise of the novel, but it read more like a non-sci-fi military action thriller to me.
I found the long and very detailed passages of space combat were far more 'Top Gun' than I'm interested in.
For people who like novels with a lot of military space action, I think this book may really hit the spot.
It just wasn't for me. That being said, the narration is very good and engaging.
49 of 53 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Into the Black?
Pace was frantic...Felt like one huge battle scene. Quite enjoyable ear candy. Science was not ridiculous, military protocols felt well researched. Not going to win a Pulitzer, but I look forward to the next in the series....Is it out yet? damn...how 'bout now?
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
A crew, composed of Earth’s best of the best, is launched into space on a mission of discovery beyond the Solar System. The crew quickly discovers that they have landed in the middle of an intergalactic war and must fight or run back home. Of course they decide to stay and battle the ugly aliens. The book is fast paced and the threat of danger permeates from beginning to end. Very enjoyable adventure.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
The author obviously drew heavy inspiration from Heinlein's Starship Troopers (one of my all time favs) and there's even a few tongue-in-cheek references to the book. The writing is well thought out and mixes in just the right amount of science. I would like to see just a little more character development or relationships between the characters, but perhaps that's coming in the future. I can only nitpick at the narrator in this review... Quite a few of the characters sounded the same and I had a hard time following the dialogue sometimes, and he really needs to work on his pacing and emphasis during the non-dialogue scenes! He read some amazing battle scenes with the same enthusiasm of someone reading the news on NPR. But even a boring narrator can't detract from me giving a 5 star rating!! Can't wait for the next in the series!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I don't write a lot of reviews but I felt compelled on this one because I love space operas and this book has received so many good reviews. I understand this is Currie's first book. If this is the case he deserves credit. It's not a bad yarn and the world he's set up has potential, but this first novel was held back for many reasons:
- The total lack of charisma of his main character, his first officer and several other secondary characters. The author made the relationships across the entire book stilted, wooden and quite frankly unbelievable.
- The choices the captain of the book were questionable. You're flying humanities only first and only interstellar spaceship and you threw caution into the wind, not once but several times for this flimsiest of reasons. In real life this guy would have been screened out of the NASA selection process on the first round. He's a real James T Kirk vs Jean Luc.
- With all due respect, I found the whole premise of our civilization showing up at key moment in another alien culture's 8000 year history (which includes interstellar travel) and we save the day, as hubristic. Yeah, North American's save the day again. In space. I get it that we are the warrior culture and they are peace loving, but I found the whole scenario a bit maddening.
- I was gobsmacked by the lack of imagination, explanation and the seeming similarity between North American culture and the human/alien culture in the book. The author made little effort to try and sell what should be a completely different society. Yes the technologies were different and they have a different language, but this was sold way short.
- I did not like the narrator. You had several hyper masculine characters in play and his main voice did not seem to fit. His accents for the alien race were lackluster, but he did do female voices quite well. That's not always the case.
I'm going to give the second book a chance. Despite its flaws, the world and story does have potential and I'm hoping the author will take more time to explore the personalities of his characters and the challenges they are confronting. Will keep my fingers crossed.
19 of 22 people found this review helpful
I grabbed this title in a hurry last week, based solely on it's member ratings, because I needed to load some books onto my iPhone to listen to while Hospitalized for a week or so... I was pleasantly surprised by this up-and-coming author!
Some people have a story inside them that they believe will connect with readers, if only they can get that story in front of the intended audience. For a new author, getting a book published the traditional way is very often a lesson in "Why you can't", punctuated by stumbling blocks that seem almost designed to say "give it up, you don't believe in it enough". I'm impressed that Evan Currie went so far as to "Self Publish" the first version of this book, since that's not exactly the easiest way to get a story "out there" either, but Mr. Currie obviously believed he had a message that an audience would enjoy hearing; He believed it so strongly that he "Made" a way to get that message in front of people that he thought would benefit from it. You know a book is going to be enjoyable when an author has that much rock-solid faith in himself, and in the story he wants to tell. He was clearly motivated to push forward to accomplish his goal, despite any adversity in his path saying, "you can't"!
That same motivation, struggle against adversity, and creative problem solving is demonstrated by the central characters all through the storyline of this book! In fact, I think it makes the actions and motivations of the characters much more believable as they keep pushing forward against the odds to accomplish what they believe they must do, just like Currie had to do to bring us this tale! The central characters obviously reflect the author's own determination and attitude.
The advanced culture that the crew of the Odyssey encounters is not just "more advanced technologically", but they also see themselves as "Much more advanced culturally", often looking down their noses with contempt at the barbarians that are savage enough to wage war with their own kind.. as is often the case in the real world, you can almost hear them thinking, "I wouldn't want to live in a society that resorts to violence to survive"... However, just like in the real world, when threatened with extinction, they suddenly find that they want to live very badly! Unfortunately, "looking down their noses" isn't a skill that teaches a society how to defend themselves! War is not always waged just for fun and profit; Often full scale conflict comes about because one society must defend themselves against a Machiavellian enemy that can't be negotiated with, and that doesn't want to see reason; He just wants to wipe you out, "simply because he can".
I enjoyed the nods to Heinlein's 'Star Ship Troopers' sprinkled throughout the book, as well as the descriptions of the "Disturbing effects" of the Transitional Drive on many of the crew members... as an Engineer, I could relate to some of the Characters in that respect alone ;)
The story has some rough edges that caused me to roll my eyes a time or two, but those instances were vastly outweighed by the overall story, and the presentation, which held my attention and kept me listening LONG after I should have been asleep. As I said at the start of this review, I listened to this book while in the Hospital over the last several days, and the story-line pulled me in so much that I got a little aggravated by the constant interruptions of being being wheeled out for tests. Several Doctors and nurses asked, "What's the name of the book? Every time I'm in your room you have your headphones on, so it must be good!" My Stock answer became, "Yeah, if you like straight-forward Military Sci-Fi it's pretty good... it's actually even better than I thought it would be from reading the synopsis, and Member reviews!"
I'm looking forward to more from Mr. Currie, his work is only going to get better as he gains more experience!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Into the Black, Currie's first installment in the Odyssy one series is a gem of listen. While the story is placed far in the future and involves the testing of the first faster than light drive. the crew of the Odyssey begin their journey as mere test pilots / guinea pigs. After their "jump" they find themselves encountering what appears to be human beings who refer to the Earth people as potentially the mythical "others" that are the stuff of their legends. At the same time, the Earth crew bump into another alien species intent on human destruction, without regard to home world origin.
The sci-fi elements are pretty standard at about the level of a typical Star Trek movie. The compelling storyline is a combination of excellent space warfare that is skillfully executed by the Earth crew with an exceptional ensemble crew (no one character does it all). Currie also does two other things right: 1) the aliens are uniquely different, intelligent, and inscrutable, and 2) the "alien" human counterparts are not so much advanced relative to Earth, but rather they have progressed in some, but not all areas of science. While this first salvo in a longer story arc bodes well for a good run, this first installment is also pure listening pleasure with good pacing and plenty of surprises.
The narration is first rate and does a respectable job of capturing the mood of the various characters (of which there are many).
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Good choice of narrator. Fantastic futuristic descriptions of technologies that are theoretically possible. Exploratory and militaristic. Unfortunately for me the, the dialogue can be very 'boys toys.'
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
My biggest problem with this is possibly the genre. I love science fiction. I don't mind a bit of war. I do like some real story. However this feels like an endless advert for the US Marine Corps - devoid of real feeling and story, full of gungho action types who spend all their time being soldiers and not much time doing anything else. Having listened to titles which really paint alternative cultures in interesting ways - this doesn't. And *spoiler* the crew's reaction to meeting aliens (lots of them) seems like vague interest and rampant paranoia rather than fascinated intrigue (in one case, with some justification).
I listened to about 30% of the whole thing, and I really tried to stick it. But for me (and I'm at odds with some others who possibly knew better than I what they were expecting) I had a "life is too short" moment, and decided to move onto something I would find more rewarding.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
I read a few mixed reviews on this story but I thought I'd give it a go not having read or listened to any of Mr Currie's work, I am so glad I did. The story to me felt like a mix between Black Hawk Down, Hunt for Red October and Battlestar Galactica [the new series].
This is one of those visual audio books, you really get in there with the characters and feel the story unfolding. I thought Benjamin L. Darcie's voice nailed the feel of the story, so big credits to him as well.
It's a great story that will leave you itching for more. It did for me, so after tapping this out ... I'm of to get part 2 to see how this universe unfolds.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I wanted to like this more than I did. There is nothing wrong with the narration but the story is weak. It feels more like an old "Battlestar Galactica" episodes. The main human characters have faster-than-light technology but all the tactics are from a marine WW2 movie. Even the ranks used are taken directly from the US Marines. None of the challenging ideas you get from other authors. Seemed more like a 50s sci-fi movie script.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is for both volumes of the Odyssey - a real saga. It is pretty much Star Trek Enterprise with a bit of Battlestar Galactica mixed in and a very good plot. Fast paced, great characters it has the depth of detail and clout of the earlier Tom Clancy techno-thrillers and then some. Whilst it is not great literature it is a very good value sci-fi book. Looking forward to more from Mr Currie.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about this story?
Real edge of you seat stuff! If you like sci fi you will like this. Listened to it again over the last few days and felt compelled to leave my first review!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Good panspermiia story with some twists Good characters with a rollicking story which seems tone a had relentless on the protagonist's. Going boldly with less than a 0perfect knowledge and and coming out tolerably well if somewhat dented, well worth the read\ listen!
Really good listen,and have already lied to audio book 2, am listening to a different book at present, but will be buying book 3.
Enjoyable to listen to. Sounds a bit like Star Trek. Worthy of a listen. Good!
New technology in the near future has, at last allowed the US (and friends) to send their first deep space exploration vessel out into the deep black...
It's a fun romp, with first contact, space battles and ground combat against weird alien troops. But don't think about it too deeply, as it's not that deep at all. I like the idea that there's a great number of nameless scientists sitting in the back somewhere having kittens over first contact, because the military crew take to it without turning a hair :)
Picked up book 2, so it definitely worked for me!
Felt like a good sci fi tv series... But didn't break any expectations. Fun if you like military Raa Raa Raa.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
YES I WOULD - AS THE STORY LINE IS GOOD
What did you like best about this story?
THE CAPTAIN OF THE ODYESSY - HE WAS HUMAN
What does Benjamin L. Darcie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
HE WAS VERY GOOD WITH THE DIFFERENT VOICES AND CLEAR
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I COULD`VE LISTENED IN ONE SITTING - BUT IT WOULD`VE BEEN TOO LONG.
IT WAS EASY TO GET BACK INTO THE STORY AFTER A BREAK
Any additional comments?
THE ONLY THING I FOUND WAS THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN THE STORY LINE AND I GOT A LITTLE CONFUSED WITH WHO WAS WHO..