Orbit Books, May 2007; 432pp, UK PBK; ISBN-13: 978-1841494289
Reviewed by Paul Raven
WARNING: This critique can be considered to contain ‘spoilers’.
The strapline reads “Dark space is not really dark. Neither is it empty.” Twisting this to refer to the book itself, it’s half right: Dark Space is certainly not empty. It is, however, very dark. Unflinchingly so; it’s a complex and exciting novel, almost devoid of cheap sentiment and comfortable vindication. It’s not a cheerful read, but it is a very rewarding one.One of the established modes of science fiction is the story that asks “what if this carries on?” With Dark Space, de Pierres is performing a variation of that mode, which we might choose to describe as “what if this happened again?” Having created a world that draws heavily on the politics (and to some extent the language and other trappings) of the Italian city-states of the Renaissance, de Pierres is able to examine societies and interpersonal relationships from feminist and Marxist angles without seemingly having any particular axe to grind other than that of general progressiveness – though a more coherent agenda promises to reveal itself over the course of the series.
If you want to read my entire critique of de Pierres’ “Dark Space”, you’ll need to pop over to T3A Space, of course. I know, I’m such a tease …