Tag Archive | Gary Gibson

Empire of Light by Gary Gibson

Empire of LightSource: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

The nova war has begun to spread as the Emissaries wage a fierce and reckless campaign, encroaching on the area of space occupied by humanity and forcing the Shoal into a desperate retreat. While Dakota goes in search of the entity responsible for creating the Maker caches, Corso, left in charge of a fleet of human-piloted Magi ships, finds his authority crumbling in the face of assassination attempts and politically-motivated sabotage. If any hope exists at all, it lies in an abandoned asteroid a thousand light-years beyond the Consortium’s borders, and with Ty Whitecloud, the only man alive with the skill to decipher the messages left behind by an ancient race of star travellers. Unfortunately Whitecloud is locked in a prison cell aboard a dying coreship adrift in space, awaiting execution for war crimes against Corso’s own people. But if humanity has any hope of survival, Corso is going to have to find some way to keep him alive – and that’s only if Dakota doesn’t kill him first.

If the previous two books were pretty large in terms of scale and scope, well, the series just got bigger with this one. This time Corso and Dakota are on the trail of the Mos Hadroch, some type of weapon that should stop the nova war between the Shoal and the Emissaries. And to get hold of it, they need one of the few humans who know anything at all about the Mos Hadroch, namely Ty Whitecloud. What’s so special about him, you wonder? Like Corso, he’s a scientist, or perhaps more of an anthropologist in this case. And he has heard of the Mos Hadroch, which immediately makes him invaluable. He’s also part of the reason Dakota ended up killing Corso’s people on behalf of the Uchidans… which puts him on both their hit lists. Enter suspicion and tension.

I liked the way Gibson brought Whitecloud into the story and enabled me to get to know him. He had my sympathy from the beginning – even knowing his history as a Uchidan. Trader once again features – but perhaps not quite so much as in the previous two stories. Or perhaps even more than one realises. I will admit to being a little disappointed that one of the main devices Gibson used in this story was a repeat of that used in Stealing Light. Nevertheless, he did up the ante on this one, and as a whole the story was very satisfying.

This book is the complete page-turner. I find it uncanny how, with almost clockwork regularity, I can gulp down eight pages at a time without barely noticing, then discover on checking that I am eight pages on from where I last took note of the page number. This is one of the things I really love about Gibson’s books: I devour them. And it’s a testament to how well he writes, allowing the story to flow without being hampered by words and extraneous images.

A must read for those who like hard scifi with nasty aliens.

Nova War by Gary Gibson

Nova WarSource: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Dakota and Corso are taken prisoner by the Bandati in the second book of The Shoal Sequence

Dakota discovered the Shoal’s dark and dangerous secret, and now she works toward stopping not only the spread of this knowledge, but also the onset of the nova war. Found adrift near a Bandati colony world far away from Consortium space, Dakota and Corso find themselves the Bandati’s prisoners, and it rapidly becomes clear to them that the humanity’s limited knowledge of the rest of the galaxy, filtered through the Shoal, is direly inaccurate. The Shoal have been fighting a frontier war with a rival species, the Emissaries, with their own FTL technology for more than 15,000 years. Realizing that the Shoal may be the Galaxy’s one chance at sustained peace, Dakota is forced to work with Trader to prevent the spread of deadly knowledge carried onboard the Magi ships—but it seems that the nova war is inevitable.

Continuing from Stealing Light, this book opens with Dakota and Corso in the clutches of the Bandati, being tortured for information relating to the Magi ship they arrived on. Communication barriers and misunderstandings relating to differing physiologies mean that the whole experience ends up being far worse for the humans than, one feels, the Bandati originally intended. At least, that’s what one’s given to believe at at least one point of the narrative. One soon learns that two major Bandati Hives are at war – or at least, at daggers drawn – over something they discovered many thousands of years previously. It soon becomes apparent that what they have found is a Magi ship very similar to the one Dakota and Corso arrived in-system on. Soon enough, Dakota is taken by one Hive, and Corso by the other, and they must work together to prevent either Hive getting their hands on the prize. Throw into the mix Hugh, a dangerous psychopath who is definitely not what he appears to be AND is very much alive, Trader of the Shoal, and a few other power players, and one’s in for another rollicking ride that spans star systems and galaxies.

I love Gary Gibson’s writing. It really became clear to me reading this book that here is a writer with true skill. What I love so much is that, while a single scene may take up many pages, that scene is rarely boring. Gary doesn’t pause to describe the scenery, or really to go into too much detail, but every word he uses creates a vision in the mind’s eye that sticks. Even without using all the deep POV techniques that many authors employ these days, Gibson locates the reader right there in the action, with the sights, sounds and smells. I rarely have difficulty imagining the scenery, the finer details that surround the characters.

A wonderful vision of the far future.

Stealing Light by Gary Gibson

Stealing LightSource: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

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!