Thursday, November 01, 2012

Book review: Out Of The Dark

Warning: There is a spoiler later in this review.

I have been reading science fiction for over thirty years. Aliens invading Earth is a popular theme. Because the stories are for us normally the humans somehow beat the aliens back. H. G. Well’s famous The War of the Worlds has germs being the key to winning the war. George O. Smith’s Pattern for Conquest has the clever humans ending up being the power behind the throne. Through the 1960s it seemed like Christopher Anvil wrote a story every year about some alien race trying to conquer Earth and being thrown back. His story Pandora’s Legions is his most famous.

Warning: Just a reminder that there is a spoiler later in this review, so if you don’t want the spoiler, don’t read the second to last paragraph.

Out Of The Dark starts by setting the stage. Aliens had come to Earth hundreds of years ago. They were shocked by just how violent and ruthless humanity could be to each other. After decades of heated discussion the Galactic Hegemony decides to allow the only space going predatory race to conquer the humans. The Shongairi arrive in our solar system cocky and confident. They have more advance technology and hold the high ground. They launch a surprise attack by throwing high velocity rocks at Earth and kill off hundreds of millions of people. Then their ground troops arrive on the surface and for weeks push humans around. The Shongairi find humans are better fighters and in several locations the humans are able to destroy Shongairi troops, but because the Shongairi have spaceships in orbit and can launch devastating kinetic strikes the humans are slow in retaking their planet.

Up to this point I greatly enjoyed the book. I would have given it four or five stars out of five. David Webber wrote with a great level of detail. The plot made sense. The characters were sympathetic and believable. Then totally out of left field Dracula saves the day. He leads a group of vampires to destroy Shongairi command centers on Earth and then they take the Shongairi space ships. I was in shock and disappointed. I really did enjoy the first two thirds of the book, but felt David Webber was unfair in pulling a rabbit out of the hat to win the war.

If you really like David Webber or stories about aliens trying to conquer Earth then you might enjoy this book. Otherwise skip it and try something like Pandora’s Planet.

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