Darkness Falling: Searching for home… in between fighting aliens and politicians

Darkness Falling by Ian Douglas science fiction book reviewsDarkness Falling by Ian Douglas science fiction book reviewsDarkness Falling by Ian Douglas

Ian Douglas’s hard science military space opera adventure series, ANDROMEDAN DARK, picks up where the story left off in the first book, Altered Starscape. The colony spaceship Tellus Ad Astra has been hurled four billion years into the future, when our Milky Way galaxy is slowly colliding with the Andromeda galaxy, where a nearly irresistible force called the Dark Mind or the Andromedan Dark holds sway. The Andromedan Dark is intent on expanding its reach and assimilating all intelligent life forms with which it comes in contact ― voluntarily or involuntarily.

As Darkness Falling (2017) begins, the burning question for Lord Commander Grayson St. Clair, the captain of the Tellus Ad Astra is: what has become of Earth and humanity over the past four billion years? The humans realize that it’s not likely that either Earth or humanity is around in any form that they would recognize, but they have a small hope that finding humanity’s descendants might lead them to the technology that will allow them to travel back to their own time. The planet Ki, which has an immense inhabited ring around it that the Ad Astra Xenosophontology Department promptly names the “Ki Ring,” currently seems like the most likely bet for humanity’s birthplace. St. Clair investigates this question while:

  1. fighting battles with the forces of the vastly powerful Andromedan Dark, an unimaginably intelligent collective mind with some horror-film tricks up its sleeve;
  2. engaging in power struggles with the Cybercouncil, a council of civilian lords who think it’s past time for St. Clair to turn over the government of the Ad Astra to them;
  3. doing some tricky negotiating with the Cooperative, an organization of galactic races that for some reason expects the humans to take the brunt of the war against the Andromedan Dark; and
  4. dealing with the repercussions of officially giving his robot companion Lisa her freedom … something St. Clair tries not to regret when Lisa disappears amongst the million inhabitants of the Ad Astra to find herself.

St. Clair is a busy guy.

Darkness Falling, the second book in Douglas’s ANDROMEDAN DARK series, has the same issues as the first one. In particular, there’s an overload of esoteric physics concepts and theoretical models. Alderson disks and Dyson spheres are just the beginning; there’s quite an extended exploration of artificial intelligence and digitally uploading minds. Though these ideas can be fascinating, they typically require side explanations to the reader, which gets a little clunky and slows the plot. The characters by and large remain stereotypical, with the military folks as the noble heroes and the politicians as the villains. Darkness Falling is the type of book that uses “politician” as a dirty word.

Somewhat surprisingly, though, I ended up enjoying Darkness Falling distinctly more than Altered Starscape. It’s highly imaginative, and it ends strongly, with some unexpected revelations and developments that engaged me and pulled me into the story. I’d recommend this series to readers who enjoy hard science fiction and aren’t dissuaded by limited characterization or a conservative, pro-military mindset.

Published in November 2017. From New York Times Bestselling Author Ian Douglas comes the next chapter in his grand space odyssey, Andromedan Dark, Darkness Falling. Lord Commander Grayson St. Clair has guided the Tellus Ad Astra to a part of the universe no human—and possibly no race known to Man—has ever seen. Far from the worlds they know, the colony ship is on its own, facing . . . something that seems to have no weakness. Something whose sole purpose seems to be devouring civilizations. With both time and space as enemies, St. Clair must figure out a way to explore this new corner of space, maintain military order on a mission that was supposed to be civilian, and—somehow—bring the Tellus Ad Astra back to the Milky Way. Combining the drama and action you’ve come to expect from military science fiction master Ian Douglas, this follow up to Altered Starscape is bound to capture your imagination.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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2 comments

  1. Agree with you on the characterization there. Pity McDonald couldn’t have written a heroic civilian character for this. Not a bad book, but not a great one either.

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