sfrevu Logo with link to Main Page  
Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Edited by David G. Hartwell
Review by Jon Guenther
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765336293
Date: 14 July 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

This is the first novel I've read by Ms. Gilman and I have to admit it surprised me. Not only did I find it highly original in some of its concepts, it also left me feeling a bit nostalgic for the science fiction heyday of authors like Harry Harrison and James E. Gunn. I'm not drawing a comparison to craft so much as the "feelings" this novel evoked.

This is the first novel I've read by Ms. Gilman and I have to admit it surprised me. Not only did I find it highly original in some of its concepts, it also left me feeling a bit nostalgic for the science fiction heyday of authors like Harry Harrison and James E. Gunn. I'm not drawing a comparison to craft so much as the "feelings" this novel evoked.

Dark Orbit is the story of a ship of scientists sent to a distant, alien planet. The lives of every individual aboard the science ship are changed when they make first contact with a group of underground dwellers capable of amazing feats. I'm happy to report that for me to give away any more of the plot would involve spoilers so I'll leave it at that.

I found the characters likable and possessing enough depth they didn't come off cookie-cutter; very little about the characterization left me empty and the author even lead me down one path only for me to discover something entirely different about two of the supporting characters in the end. The alien races described in this book, particularly the Torobes and Oreman, were well crafted and their societies daring. I would especially think exploration of the Oreman society more deeply in a spin-off novel would be interesting and I can only hope we learn more about them from Ms. Gilman. I highly suspect her background working in a Native American museum contributed in no small part to her ability to build the complex societies like those in Dark Orbit.

The plot also deserves recognition, as well. While I almost felt the main conflict was a bit too subtle, many of the conflicts take place in the various sub-plots and involved character interaction, really the best kind of conflicts for a novel. There were also a number of twists and turns with good foreshadowing, so I was left with a definite yearning to go back to the book. This is especially important for a reader like me, since I find it very difficult to return to novels that don't intrigue me (as I assume do most readers), so it's always a pleasure to find hidden gems like this one.

If I had to cite any cons it would be the audio diary of one of the two main protagonists, Thora Lassiter. Aside from the fact there were entire sections and chapters formatted in italicized text, which I must fairly acknowledge as only a personal pet peeve, I didn't really find the audio diary even necessary. It does play into an "aha" moment at the end but I think it could have been done in a more straightforward style without the pages and pages of italicized text to draw it out. It would have set perfectly good with me if it had simply been told as the other parts of the novel.

In the end, I really enjoyed Dark Orbit and I happily recommend it as a science fiction novel worth attention on the merits of a solid plot, good pace and interesting societies if not so much the scientific concepts. Should be a great summer read for all ages.

Return to Index


We're interested in your feedback. Just fill out the form below and we'll add your comments as soon as we can look them over. Due to the number of SPAM containing links, any comments containing links will be filtered out by our system. Please do not include links in your message.
Name:
Email:
Comments

© 2002-2017SFRevu

advertising index / info
Our advertisers make SFRevu possible, and your consideration is appreciated.

  © 2002-2017SFRevu