Altered Starscape: Andromedan Dark (#1)
by Ian Douglas
Cover Artist: Gregory Bridges
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062379191
Date: 25 October 2016 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Humanity has reached the stars and found new allies. Allies who need help and are willing to exchange advanced tech for military help. This seems like a good way to help improve humanity's chances of survival and ability to thrive.
Grayson St. Clair is sent to lead the initial expedition to the Galactic Core. He leads a group of scientists, soldiers, and diplomats on the Tellus Ad Astra. An accident or sabotage leaves the ship and crew trapped. Their escape leaves them in a very different universe. Not a new one, just one very far removed from their present.
Even though they haven't changed, the galaxy has. There are still enemies with more advanced tech, but enemies can create opportunities for those willing to fight and take chances. The main enemy is able to reach out from another dimension.
This is a new series which charts a new course from those in the Star Carrier and Galactic Marine series. Although science has always been a part of his series, Ian Douglas digs in deeper than ever before. The discussions of multiple dimensions and theoretical physics are an integral part of the story. In truth, I might have struggled with this novel if I had not recently read Death's End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu. The science of the two stories overlap and take different views of the multidimensional interactions.
This is a strong combination of hard and military science fiction. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but this is harder science than I have come to expect. I feel that the success of the Liu series has opened the door to more explicit science Douglas is using this new leeway to take his writing to a new level.
One of the great struggles in imagining humanity reaching beyond the confines of our home system, is that there are some potentially great dangers. There is a risk of finding other beings far advanced and dismissive of humanity. It might be easier to destroy a potential rival than to embrace them. Our own history shows many races and ethnicities choosing to distrust those different from themselves. The great question is whether the rest of the universe is as insular as humanity or whether it will embrace a new member to a galactic community. What does humanity have to offer? Maybe nothing.
I enjoy the continued exploration of humanity’s future possibilities by Douglas. He understands one of the potential paths and continues to find new ways to discuss humanity's place in that future. He doesn't always rely on the same technologies and tactics to arrive at a resolution. That is one of the reasons I continue to trust a novel with Douglas's name on it. For fans of the Three Body Problem series, there is science to go along with the fast-paced action.