For a quarter of a million years, an alien race has been hiding a vast and terrible secret
In the 25th century, only the Shoal possess the secret of faster-than-light travel (FTL), giving them absolute control over all trade and exploration throughout the galaxy. Mankind has operated within their influence for two centuries, establishing a dozen human colony worlds scattered along Shoal trade routes. Dakota Merrick, while serving as a military pilot, has witnessed atrocities for which this alien race is responsible. Now piloting a civilian cargo ship, she is currently ferrying an exploration team to a star system containing a derelict starship. From its wreckage, her passengers hope to salvage a functioning FTL drive of mysteriously non-Shoal origin. But the Shoal are not yet ready to relinquish their monopoly over a technology they acquired through ancient genocide.
I spotted this book on a friend’s bookshelf and was intrigued. It looked like the type of scifi book I read as a teen.
Stealing Light is a fabulous, wide-ranging hard scifi with massive concepts – just how I love my scifi, truth be told. This is a book of intergalactic proportions – and implications. Humanity is far from dominant in this tale. The galaxy is strictly controlled by the Shoal Hegemony – the Shoal being, well, fish, and fish who are on the run – and the various species inhabiting the galaxy may only live where the Shoal say they may. Privileges that can be revoked at any time, without explanation.
I loved how Gibson weaves together several storylines – two following one main character (two different times), another following the other, and yet another following one of the Shoal members – building them up to the final climax of the book – and the shocking aftermath. This is a tightly woven story and I didn’t detect any loose threads as the book came to a close. All the hints were there, the developments, the threats.
This book is an excellent study on the concept that with great power comes great responsibility. Be careful who you give power to!