Into the Black: Odyssey One, reviewed by Rob Kroese
Evan Currie’s Into the Blackis a throwback to gung-ho military sci-fi like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers – with less politics and philosophizing, and more stuff blowing up.
In the wake of World War III, the North American Confederation has sent its first interstellar spacecraft, the Odyssey, to explore space beyond our solar system. What its crew finds is beyond anything they could imagine: a human civilization spanning many star systems, whose history seems to have diverged from ours some two thousand years earlier. Questions about the origins of this strange civilization will have to wait, however: The Odyssey arrives on the scene just as this civilization is being exterminated by a race of mysterious, insect-like aliens. Dragged into a war not of their making, the crew of Odyssey become the only hope for the salvation of an entire world.
Into the Blackstarts slowly, but Currie expertly raises the stakes and ratchets up the tension so that by the halfway point, the reader finds himself eagerly turning pages to find out what happens next. This book is obviously the first in a planned series (as you might guess from the subtitle, Odyssey One), but the climax of Into the Black is suitably satisfying on its own.
Currie’s prose is occasionally clunky and I’m sure some readers will take issues with what could be taken as the glorification of war, but he won me over with his unpretentious storytelling and – most of all – the battle scenes and super-cool technology. Currie obviously knows his stuff when it comes to both tactics and tachyons. Being reasonably scientifically literate, I know that a faster-than-light spacecraft is impossible, but I completely bought Currie’s explanation of how his “transition drive” works. He’s probably blowing smoke, but it’s pretty good-smelling smoke.
This is a fast, easy, and highly enjoyable read. Currie handles with aplomb the transitions in viewpoint that are necessary in dramatizing a large-scale military conflict. A few plot holes may nag at you, but probably not until after you’ve finished the last page with a smile on your face.
Rob Kroese has been writing science fiction stories since 2nd grade, when he thrilled his teacher with the tales of Captain Bill and his spaceship Thee Eagle, which resembled a partially peeled and very overripe banana. Rob is the author of two humorous fantasy novels, Mercury Falls and Mercury Rises.