Out of the Dark
by David Weber
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765324122
Date: 28 September 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The Shongairi are the only carnivorous members of the Galactic Hegemony. They have bristled at the restrictions on their expansion. A Hegemony exploration team arrives in time to view the Battle of Agincourt. The scientists are appalled by the brutality that they see and record. Earth is deemed as in need of colonization and conquest. The Shongairi are given the task and they prepare to add Earth to their sphere of influence, but space travel takes time.
The Shongairi fleet arrives in modern day Earth. They have a great dilemma, humans have achieved level two civilization which puts them in protected status if the rest of the Hegemony finds out. The humans would likely make good subjects with their ability to advance scientifically. They may be able to give the Shongairi the advantage they need to break away from the Hegemony. They use advanced tech to infiltrate the Internet and learn Earth's defenses. They bombard several major cities and demand the surrender of Earth. Things seem to be going well; no species can suffer those losses without submitting.
Of course if it was that simple there wouldn't be a story. There are multiple points of view introduced, and not all of them will survive. That is one of the strengths of this novel. Too many times POV characters survive crazy odds that limit the impact of a coming battle. I won't spoil the fun by sharing POV's which could lead to knowledge of who is safe, and who isn't. The battles as the Shongairi try to subjugate Earth will be epic on a small scale. You'd think aliens would have learned that you don't mess with Earth, but they never learn.
This is a standard alien invasion story with a twist at the end. It is reminiscent of two other works, the classic The High Crusade by Poul Anderson and Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. In both cases the aliens got more than they bargained for when they attacked Earth.
This is an expansion of the story first published in the Warriors anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. There were additional plots and characters added to fill out the story and give readers a larger view of the world and the Shogairi's motivations and thoughts.
This is a little different than some of Weber's other works. It is less based on a navy and more focused on ground based troops with a sprinkling of survivalists. It can stand on its own, but does leave room for a sequel. I wasn't sure when starting this expansion if it was going to be different enough to warrant reading, but it is worth the time. As I neared completion, I found myself reading a little longer than planned. Take the time to read this invasion.