Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dark Secret by Edward M. Lerner

A novel which was published as a serial in four issues of the Analog magazine. There are spoilers in the review!
A gamma ray burst has been detected. It will soon arrive to the solar system and sterilize everything. (for some strange reason it apparently isn’t obvious to some of the characters in the story that such an event would be by necessity something affecting the whole solar system and not just earth - apparently total idiot ignoramuses are allowed to come to space) Luckily, the first starship which uses space drive which is able to harness the vacuum energy is running test runs. Hurriedly (and secretly) a four member crew “steals” (to prevent a wide spread panic) embryos and artificial wombs and shoots for the stars. A cold sleep system which usually is used only in medical emergencies has also been developed and crew uses that for a space journey which lasts decades. Apparently, the system is able to take care of the muscle tone also, and no tissue wasting or any other delirious effects happen during the years in cold sleep. Thanks to an extremely conveniently located cosmic string, they are able to travel faster than light to a solar system with a cool, almost habitable, atmosphere. They land to the planet, move in, start to terraform it, and eventually start to raise children. And then one of the crew members turns evil and powerhungry just for the fun of it, and another one becomes her patsy just for an occasional fuck now and then. The motivations of those characters weren’t really believable. Also, apparently no one of the others has ever read even basic high school level texts of psychology of childhood and child rearing and they let the crazy take care of the children alone. The very ending comes pretty much from nowhere and is extremely unlikely making room for a sequel. In spite of many flaws in the plot and the very unrealistic and stupid characters, the story was pretty readable and entertaining and fast to read.

App. 80 000 words, 320 pp.

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