Series: The Spider Wars #1
Published by Tor Books on 2/25/14
Genres: Horror, Science fiction
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Adam Christopher’s dazzling first novel, Empire State, was named the Best Book of 2012 by SciFi Now magazine. Now he explores new dimensions of time and space in The Burning Dark.
Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.
But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.
Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?
The furthest reaches of space, the vast and lonely unknown, a crackling radio airing the haunting last moments of someone’s life. The Burning Dark sounds deliciously creeptastic doesn’t it? Oh it was, darlings, it was! Plus this line on one of the first few pages pretty much sealed the deal for me.
In the dark she burned.
A Captain goes down with his ship!
We’ve all heard that phrase before I’m sure. To me it doesn’t just mean dedication it means loyalty. And there is such a sense of that portrayed by these characters. I felt a deep connect with the main protagonist Cleveland. He’s been given the shaft in more ways than I can count and yet he’s still so resilient but also at moments vulnerable. The story makes good use of multiple POV’s and flashbacks which added instead of took away. I can sometimes get snippy about those two things but here they were done very well. For those readers out there who are leery of science fiction but love ghost stories give this one a try because the story and the atmosphere will ooze beneath your skin. I can not adequately explain how the tone of this book made me want to curl up in low purple light, that’s right I said purple, and read until my eyes crossed and I passed out against my will. But mostly the real winning point for me was Cleveland, he is a lead man worthy of attention and admiration. Having major faults which simply serve to make him real. Not to mention the supporting cast that I both sympathized with and wanted to gut punch! That is what I’m talking about! By the time I was finished reading I was so heartsick and extremely glad to be so.
“And, you know, there’s something about her voice…it makes me feel…sad. But in a good way, somehow. I don’t know. That doesn’t make much sense.”
Izanami tilted her head, her frown a thoughtful expression. “Melancholy can be good for the soul.”
The spiders go marching one by one hooorah, hoorah!
So you might read the description and think ‘eh’ another military sci-fi book. Don’t! I tell you true when I say, I do not fancy military books at all! I think this might be because I spent 6 years in army. Yes, The Burning Dark has some great military focus and plot points but it did not at all feel overwhelming. I didn’t feel like I had to have an interest in military type fiction to enjoy it. Heck I was more than a tad worried I wouldn’t enjoy it because that normally isn’t my thing. It was a story about perseverance, the human will to survive and above all, self sacrifice – these are things tied to our human culture!
And lets not forget the freaking space spider…mecha freaking space spiders. The stuff of nightmares folks…
“I don’t think the Spiders have actual spiders wherever they’re from, but they sure as hell built their whole space tech around them. You know those little spider egg sacs, those balls of web on a leaf that you flick and then they break and about a million of the shits swarm out over everything? Just like that.”
The Burning Dark brings all sorts of fantastic elements to the table, Japanese folklore, ghosts, vengeance, deep space travel, horror and a touch of government coverups! These things when combined made for a most excellent and unsettling story. One thankfully that readers can walk away from satisfied because while I think there will be more books written in this universe this book can most definitely be read as a standalone! It was a ghost story, one that makes me cautious of the sound of white noise and leaving the radio on. Oh yes and we all know hell hath no wrath like a woman scorned!
The Burning Dark (#1)
*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! Now worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. Quotes taken are from an advanced edition and may not be the same in the published version. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.