Somewhere about the half way mark of listening to the Audible version of Dark Space, I began to realize that this was very much a Mary Sue (or, at least, a Gary Stu – pure middle age male wish fulfillment fantasy). The deus ex machina is so thick here as to really be mind boggling – in a very bad way. From the loser ‘salt and pepper haired’ main character with the hot exotic girlfriend half his age, perfect wife and son, and chance to really inexplicably prove he’s still studly to the evil moustache twirling bad guy. Really, take a blender and add in Firefly and Star Wars and here you go.
Story (such as it is): Ethan and the surviving humans have fled to a place called “Dark Space” – closing a gate behind them so that the vernicious knids…er…evil aliens…can’t continue to exterminate the humans. Han Solo…er…Ethan Ortane wants to rejoin the army but his ship is in hock to Jabba…er….Brondi and Brondi concocts the most senile plot ever in order for Ethan to get his debt paid. Ethan must use a holo device to pretend to be an officer of the surviving military – infiltrate and sabotage the last remaining law in the human universe. The only ones preventing the aliens from finding the humans….
Characters. Right off the bat we have the aging vet and hot girlfriend from well-to-do family slumming with him (for reasons unknown). He treats her like crap and she takes it – being so ‘madly in love’ with him. But he’s still mooning over his missing wife and son from some 20 years previous, so it’s ok that he abuses the girlfriend and treats her like crap. Of course, we have the wonderful cliche of women: exotic ‘super’ gorgeous young girlfriend with ‘violet’ eyes and fancy name like Alara. Contrast that with the other female character, a hard hitting, tough talking pilot with the common name Gina. Because who would want to date a Gina when you could have an Alara?
It’s hard not to go into the silliness of the holo device, lack of any ability of detection of someone using it, and that no one seems to question the personality change of the office he is impersonating. Better yet, (mild spoiler here), everyone seems to forgive quite easily that he was involved in the officer (and mate) being tortured and killed for that identity and used it to do harm (actually, kill) 10,000 other people. But hey, it’s ok, no biggie.
We’re also supposed to like a character that is willing to hurt so many in order to save his own hide or that of his idiot girlfriend. I didn’t buy it and everyone seemed to have 1 second of half hearted regret before patting him on the back and welcoming the loser to their fold – no biggie that he killed so many.
The bad guy is so over the top and yet so incredibly stupid. Half the time the set up is gentle coercion but it always turns into kidnapping of family, etc. E.g., Brondi has Ethan over the coals for the debt but only thinks to kidnap the girlfriend on impulse later? Or the scientists who are concocting Brondi’s evil scheme for a payment – only to have family members kidnapped after completion anyway. Why not just kidnap in the beginning and get it over with? It just seemed silly and a forced way to escalate the drama/plot.
There are some ‘plot twists’ at the end that are so left field as to make implausible segue straight to impossible. I won’t go into it for spoilers but the book ends abruptly on the spoiler and not in a very eager or satisfying end of arc way.
There was a lot I really didn’t like about Dark Space. It lacked gravitas, realistic characters, or an interesting storyline. I hated each one of the cliche characters and never invested in any part of the story.
I listened to the Audible version and the narrator did an ok job with a really silly story.