Into the Black: Odyssey One
Author: Evan Currie
5 out of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Military Science Fiction – Space Opera Reading Level: Adult
Disclosure: I received a free uncorrected proof/advanced reader’s copy from the Amazon.com Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Beyond the confines of our small world, beyond the well of our star, lies a galaxy, and universe, larger and more varied than any of us can imagine. Assigned the task of blazing man's first trail into that great unknown, Captain Eric Weston and the crew of the NAC Odyssey launch on a mission destined to make history.
Past the bounds of comfort, they encounter horrors and wonders beyond their imagining, with people and monsters beyond reckoning.
Odyssey One is the first voyage of the NAC Odyssey and its crew, and the beginnings of a Military Science Fiction Epic that combines both old school space opera, and modern storytelling in one great, exhilarating adventure.
My Thoughts: Military science fiction and space opera is a bit of an acquired tasted, but once one has acquired that taste, one tends to devour these sorts of books. I got started with the amazing Honor Harrington books by David Weber, and was hooked. Soon I was reading Eric Flint, Timothy Zahn, John Ringo and every other book of its ilk I could find.
One of my favorite things in the mil sci-fi/space opera genre is the anticipation of seeing how the BEMs (Bug-Eyed Monsters) will be described. Among my favorites are the Posleen – a reptilian Centauroid – created by John Ringo and, of course, these wonderful Drasin created by Currie – a truly repugnant BEM that seem to be based somewhat on the nasties from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (just one of the ways that homage is paid to Heinlein in this book).
As anyone who reads this books will likely agree, one of the things I really enjoy about a good BEM is when we get an idea of their motivations, and maybe even a slightly sympathetic view of them – Ringo, for instance, after giving us several books of Posleen atrocities, suddenly wrote a book from their point of view – an entire book! It was glorious! Weber gave us a terrific cat-like warrior race as a BEM that in the next book became an ally against an even worse BEM in one of his earliest series (which I can’t remember the name of right now, sorry!), written with David Drake. This is something that is somewhat missing in this book, but since it is only the first book of the series, that is OK – one rarely gets an inside look at the BEM in the first book of a series. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will say that we may or may not see the Drasin again; however, I am quite certain that there is more to them than we see in this book.
Now the only major complaint I have about this book is one that is, admittedly, about an issue that is tricky. A good military sci-fi/space opera will have a staggeringly large cast of characters due to the sheer size necessary for a space vessel designed for war, and it is important that each character be made as memorable as possible, often within a short period of time. Currie, apparently in an attempt to cut the cast down, frequently reverts to a sort of non-entity when talking about characters that won’t have a major role – in an early scene in the doctor’s office, a crew member is not even assigned a gender, just referred to as a generic crew member the few times he or she is mentioned. This occurs many times – maybe not to the extent that the character is not even assigned a gender, but there are many generic crew members that aren’t assigned names or distinguishing characteristics. This was frustrating for me – while it can be equally frustrating to have dozens of characters to keep track of, I would rather have more information than less. The characters that are named, however, are nicely developed.
As is the plot itself – very well developed and fast-paced. Unlike space battles – long periods of boredom relieved by short periods of sheer terror – this whole book is designed to keep the reader reading as quickly as possible. It is a long book – most editions are close to 600 pages – but written in such as way as to seem much shorter.
Ordinarily I like to read as much as a series as possible all together, but since the 2nd book in this series is not yet published (The Heart of the Matter: Odyssey One is scheduled to be released 9/25/12), I am forced to go about this the slow way. I will be watching for the next book in this series – despite any flaws I may have mentioned, the book is good enough to have snagged on my meter of stories I want to continue reading, which means I would definitely recommend it to you, too, if this sounds like your sort of book.