Dark Space review

God is not as nice as you’d think

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Author: Marianne de Pierres

Publisher: Orbit

432 pages • £6.99

ISBN: 978-1-84149-428-9


Marianne de Pierres is best known for her excellent Parrish Plessis novels set in a dangerous and dirty post-cyberpunk Australia where Mad Max would last about ten minutes. Dark Space is something else again. Where the Plessis novels keep their point of view tight to their heroine, Dark Space features a mixed bag of main characters and weaves four or five stories together. The most successful of these concerns Mira Fedor, a young baroness in a rigidly hierarchical far future who has inherited the ability to pilot sentient spaceships – a talent usually found in men. And the evil local prince wants to unravel her genes and steal this talent for his wastrel son.

Except that Trin, the son, isn’t really a wastrel, just spoilt, indulged and from a family so dysfunctional that insanity is the only logical choice. Trin’s not that good around humanoid women like Mira, although he has a bit of a thing for alien females. So he keeps himself topped up with Bravura, which seems to be a cross between Viagra and crack. The other main strands concern a foppish architect, an entity deep in space that might be God, and a hippie chancer who discovers the creature and gets rich on the media tour that follows.

The real plot kicks in halfway, and bits of this read as if knitted together from earlier drafts (though the set-up for the next book is gripping). Of course, de Pierres not quite firing on all cylinders is still better than half a dozen people you’ll find on these pages at their best! But still…

Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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