By Jasper T Scott
The first book in the Dark Space series, set in the far future in a post-apocalyptic galaxy, Dark Space is the epitome of dark sci-fi full of classic tropes. The ISS, a government lasting 10,000 years, has failed to drive out an invasion of a hostile alien species. All that remains of the human race is a few spare thousand, taking refuge in a barely habitable stronghold, barely able to feed themselves, and just barely surviving.
This is where we meet our hero, Ethan Ortane. He is a convicted smuggler, owes a debt to a crime lord, seeking to hide from debt collectors with his trusted copilot. If this reminds anyone of a certain roguish smuggler from another classic sci-fi story, I’m sure you aren’t alone. Ethan’s copilot is a young female harboring a not-quite-unrequited love for her older partner. Young Alara Vastra must deal with these feelings while trying to find a future for herself in this dark, dreary world.
They are both captured early on in the story by their debtor, the very rich and power hungry Alec Brondi. Brondi uses Alara to strong arm Ethan into taking on a dangerous mission to strike a blow into the very heart of the ISS. What follows is a thrilling adventure filled with espionage, space battles, mecha warriors and political intrigue. Filled with classic clichés, such as the roguish smuggler developing a conscience, a love story, a father seeking his lost wife and son, and government that has trouble keeping the populace safe, Scott nevertheless creates an engaging world with his descriptive nature that pulls the reader into the story.
The language used in Dark Space is classic sci-fi. Using words such as “frek” and “grub” as expletives and insults, it makes the language personal and recognizable without pushing too hard into the cornfield. Introducing as little technobabble into the story makes the story familiar to the general populace, while terms such as “subluminal drive” are easily recognized by the avid sci-fi reader. Scott regularly describes the settings in the story to make them easily imaginable without sacrificing the speed of the plot and boring the reader.
Despite the all-too-familiar clichés and sometimes easily predictable plot, Scott has created a world that is definitely worth exploring.