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Old 01-12-2013, 12:27 PM   #1
GlenBarrington
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Out of the Dark - David Weber

The Galactic Hegemony is a rather sleepy "Galactic Government" made up of 3 types of sentient beings,
  1. Herbivores - The most common type
  2. Omnivores - The second most common
  3. Carnivores - Rather rare.

The book opens with a survey team visiting Earth during the 15th century during which an extremely savage battle between the English and French is witnessed. The Hegemony witnesses are shocked beyond belief and it is recommended that Earth be made a protectorate of the Hegemony for it's own good.

Because interstellar travel over the vast differences is still somewhat slow, it takes around 600 earth years for the invasion and colonial government ships to arrive. The race selected to handle this are the Shongairi, a newly elevated race of carnivores with a well hidden desire to control the entire Hegemony.

The Shongairi are surprised to find not a planet locked into a medieval mindset, but a fully developed "Level 2" global civilization with all the aggressiveness of their 15th century forebearers. A "level 2" civilization is almost ready for elevation to full hegemony membership and is normally left in isolation in order to allow the final developments to occur naturally.

However, the Shongairi's political ambitions, their partial adoption of many Hegemonaic beliefs, and the complex politics of the decaying Hegemony government, cause the Shongairi to invade and conquer anyway.

They use kinetic weapons on the major cities and government centers (Drop big rocks) to kill off half the earth's population immediately. Naturally, the remaining humans kind of resent this.

This is a very interesting start to what could be a new series, but is completely derailed by a silly and forced ending, that frankly is too dopey to take seriously. Don't get me wrong this is a well written book of fiction, marred by some sort of failure in artistic judgement on the part of the writer.

I won't say what the ending is in case you want to read this book. But it would not have been difficult to rework the storyline to avoid this. And the rework I thought of even includes using many of the elements and theme he used in the silly ending he came up with.

I probably won't buy any sequel to this book if any appear unless it is VERY cheap. (Though I admit I am curious to see how Weber would dig himself out of this hole!) I bought the paper book at B&N, but it is available on Amazon.com as an ebook with no DRM. If you go there, don't read the reader reviews, as many of the respondents were so angry with the ending they foolishly gave away the ending.

Weber is normally a good SF writer, if this would be your first exposure to his work, read something else of his first. It would be unfair to let this book color your opinion of his story telling abilities.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:56 PM   #2
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This was my least favorite Weber book. I thought the premise and the ending were terrible. After I read it I had to check the cover to see who's name was listed as author. If you have not read this book do not waste your time. If you have I am sorry you wasted your money too.
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Old 01-12-2013, 01:15 PM   #3
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The premise didn't bother me so much . . .

as the "Deus ex machina" ending. Like I said, I think the story could be reworked with almost the same premise and theme so that the ending isn't, well, stupid, and that there is room for a sequel or two.

I really liked the politics, prejudices, and slow decay of the Hegemony to carry a series of books. I liked how the Shongairi would be at the mercy of the humans and the moral dilemma that presents. I like how the Shongairi seem to view the Hegemony more as prey than as partners.

This is a really good universe for a series of stories that have been short circuited by bad judgement on the part of the author.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:53 PM   #4
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Agreed. A prime example of a book premise that got short circuited.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:53 PM   #5
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I found the book disappointing but not for the ending.
You see, the book is an expansion of an existing short story and the ending is the effectively the short story.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_...rk_(2010_novel)
Quote:
Out of the Dark is an alien invasion science fiction novel by David Weber released by Tor Books on September 28, 2010.[1] This novel is an extended version of the short story of the same name in the 2010 anthology Warriors.
So, from my side, the book took forever to get to the point and then wrapped up without fully exploring the concept at its core.
In other words, instead of taking 90% of the book to get to the book's core conceit, I wanted him to engage the two parties and then have a nice and detailed knock-down-drag-out fight.
Instead of expanding the short story, he effectively prequeled it.
The result is well written, with interesting characters and scenarios but it is something of a bait and switch. It's like he got drawn in by the narrative of the "prequel" and only patched it to the short story at the end because that is what the contract called for.
(sigh)
In a way, the concept screams for a sequel more than a prequel, so maybe that was the intent.

For an older but more tightly focused take on a modern invasion story, try Niven and Pournelle's FOOTFALL (if you haven't yet). It plays with a similar scenario but with a different core concept: aliens arrive to colonize, find the system's habitable planet heavily occupied, but since their tech is superior, they go conqueror and force a surrender from the governments. What they fail to appreciate is humans don't have a surrender reflex--they *will* fight to the death even when death is assured. And that is only the first of the shocks the monkey boys throw at them.

Both OUT OF THE DARK and FOOTFALL are good reads but FOOTFALL is more satisfying. Especially because of its ending...

Last edited by fjtorres; 01-12-2013 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:17 PM   #6
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I loved Footfall. I think it is one of the best Alien Invasion books written so far. Individualism against a herd mentality.
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:12 PM   #7
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I had forgotten about Footfall. . .

That was a good read!
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:28 AM   #8
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I liked Out of the Dark until I learned about the vampires. I hate books with vampires!

I think Weber has gotten lazy in recent years. Just as Out of the Dark is an expansion of a short story, so have been a couple of others, like A Beautiful Friendship. In addition to short story expansions, he has gone off the deep end with neverending detailed explanations of how things work. This is a real problem in the Safehold Series. It is almost as if he has lost sight of what makes for a good novel.

Of course, having said that, I keep sending him the wrong message because I keep buying his new releases in hardcover and ebook.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:00 AM   #9
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I have never read Out of the Dark thanks to the terrible reviews...this thread isn't changing my mind, haha.

I do really enjoy most of David Weber's books though.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
I think Weber has gotten lazy in recent years. Just as Out of the Dark is an expansion of a short story, so have been a couple of others, like A Beautiful Friendship. In addition to short story expansions, he has gone off the deep end with neverending detailed explanations of how things work. This is a real problem in the Safehold Series. It is almost as if he has lost sight of what makes for a good novel.
Well, Beautiful Friendship and Fire Season and the sequels to come are a collaboration to address a set of characters/milleau he's been meaning to deal with but hasn't had the time. (Because Safehold and Honorverse are eating it up.)

To be a bit kinder, I suspect that because he can craft these detailed worlds and scenarios (and do it well) and draw readers in he feels comfortable (compelled?) zooming-in to that level. And since the stuff sells, the publishers don't feel the need to... encourage him... to change. "Why mess with success."

The problem is one of scale: the approach works with The Honorverse because the scale of the story is vast enough that zooming-in on specific theaters and plot-lines is essential to appreciating the conflict itself and doesn't bog you down with minute by minute updates. And so far all the threads are relevant. (Though a few less strtegic briefings here and there wouldn't hurt.) But Safehold is a much smaller story to start with and zooming-in just bogs you down; we do *not* need to experience the plight of every last villager at risk of starvation.

I've said it before: Safehold needed to be a generational saga. One volume, one generation, each highlighting a new stage of the struggle to get mankind back up in space and ready to rain righteous retribution upon the aliens.

He is good at the technique but he is applying it to the wrong story.
The technique he needed for Safehold is the fast-forward he used with the first two Dahak novels.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:57 AM   #11
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I read this book quite a while ago and actually enjoyed it true the ending was a little "out there" I still enjoyed it. I'm probably one of the few who would like to see a sequel.

I actually haven't read any of his other books I'm just a sucker for Alien Invasion type novels.
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:12 AM   #12
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Enjoyed reviews.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apache View Post
This was my least favorite Weber book. I thought the premise and the ending were terrible. After I read it I had to check the cover to see who's name was listed as author. If you have not read this book do not waste your time. If you have I am sorry you wasted your money too.
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I absolutely agree. This was a ripoff.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:26 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Teknikal View Post
I read this book quite a while ago and actually enjoyed it true the ending was a little "out there" I still enjoyed it. I'm probably one of the few who would like to see a sequel.

I actually haven't read any of his other books I'm just a sucker for Alien Invasion type novels.
I'd like to see a sequel too. Weber isn't one of my favorite authors on the best of days so I wasn't horribly offended by this book. In terms of alien invasion novels, while a tad odd, the ending was infinitely more satisfying than that in Robert Silverberg's 'The Alien Years'.

Spoiler-

After years spent fighting the aliens, who we never see nor do they really even acknowledge the human characters, the aliens just up and leave. Talk about unsatisfying.
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