Out of the Dark by David Weber [Book Review]

Alien Invasion Stopped by Trendy Creatures

I should begin to state I am a fan of David Weber and I love his military science fiction. This is the first book in a new series that mixes that with another trendy subject I will tell you about later.

The Galactic Hegemony was immense and oh so peaceful beside a few upstarts that usually fought themselves to extinction before they become a problem. Which makes it so unfortunate that their scouts happened to visit earth in the middle of the battle of Agincourt, descended from herbivore creatures the Barhoni crew was appalled when they reported back, this new specie, the Humans where barely more than animals, they where even worse than the Shonegairi, a race of predators that had risen to Hegemony membership but who was still causing all kinds of troubles. Thinking they could solve two problems at the same time the leaders of the Hegemony gave the Shonegairi leave to neutralize the Humans before they could become a second threat to galactic peace.

But when the Shonegairi arrive at Earth some six hundred years later it had advanced to an incredible level of technology almost on par with them (2010). Against Hegemony law they still attacked and three quarters of the human race dies in a few minutes as all major cities and military bases cease to exist, destroyed by orbital strikes.

The rest of the story follows the war they get on their hand when they land. It tells of heroic land and air battles and how human ingenuity comes out on top. The battles including the one at Agincourt are beautifully told as expected. I really enjoyed all the battles and the military lingo. The parallels to current conflicts are pretty obvious.

As usual David tells the story from many different views including the alien commanders, a fighter pilot striking back at the invasion, a tank commander in Afghanistan, a survivalist family taking the fight to the enemy and especially Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, an American soldier caught in the Balkans by the invasion. The characters are in my opinion a bit more two dimensional than usual in this story but I still root for them. I think it would have been a better story if there has been a more distinct protagonist, but that is maybe just me.

Warning spoiler ahead!

So far it is a pretty standard military science fiction from a master of the craft, but it is what happens in the last few score of pages that makes the difference. It was a fine book in itself up to that time but the ending has a bit of god out of the machine when our hero basically happens on a group of vampires pissed that someone is killing their food and they decide to join forces and kick the shit out of the aliens. Said and done. Earth now has dreadnought space ships and we wait on book number two.

I am not sure David is going to make a sequel and the reviews on this one has been mixed to say the least. Unless he has written it in secret already and turned it over to the publisher we can expect it earliest mid to late 2012. One might suspect it sold pretty well though.

Out of the Dark has some interesting points on culture and how it forms expectations and the battles are very well written. The characters are not the strongest or most interesting Weber has made but I am still interested in reading any sequel. If you go at it with the right expectations you will enjoy this book for what it is, a fun thought experiment otherwise there are many, more stringent books by David Weber like On Basilisk Station to start with.

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor (September 2010)
Order from: Amazon US | UK
Copy: Bought it myself

Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died. Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed. His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity – but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force. Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity…until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth. The Shongairi now have a real fight on their hands…as Earth’s vampires strike at them, out of the dark.