Out of the Dark
by David Weber
Jakob’s Goodreads Rating: (3) of 5 Stars – “Liked It”
Recommended for: Military Scifi/Scifi Readers
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 copy I read was an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) that Shane over at Novelnaut received from a Goodreads contest. He was kind enough to let me klepto it for a work trip before he even had a chance to read it himself. I am a huge David Weber fan, so have been really looking forward to reading this book. Weber’s Empire from the Ashes (which is actually 3 novels in one) is one of my favorite Military Science Fiction novels followed by his Safehold Series.
As the description goes, we meet aliens the hard way. They kick our ass. What is a bit different for Weber here is that the time frame is in the near future. Normally for Weber it is impossible to translate to current events, but this novel ties directly into them a couple of years in the future. When it gets down to it though, that part is inconsequential because for all intensive purposes, most governments are destroyed in the initial attacks by the Shongairi.
The bulk of the novel bounces from different viewpoints around the world and how they resist or fight back to retake our world. At times it becomes a bit of a challenge to follow since military units were stranded and scattered across the world. This does become easier as the novel progresses as we become more familiar with the different characters and viewpoints.
The most interesting part for me was sort of having to do with the cultural differences between humans and the alien invaders, but specifically in relation to the technology. The Shongairi have conquered others before us, but have never fought anyone above a sticks and stones sort of technology level. Some interesting cultural commentary in there. We are damn good at killing each other. If distracted from that endeavor by having to fight back against outside invaders, would we be any good at that? Another thing that is mentioned time and time again is that the Shongairi are surprised that a species that has managed to reach our current level of technology hasn’t managed to blow itself back into the stone age or form a world government. Obviously since this is near future, no we haven’t, but Weber is making a point there I think.
The novel is very much worth the read and was enjoyable. However, while being a huge Weber fan, the ending of the novel really took away from the story for me. Without giving spoilers, the last couple of chapters a shift happens that swiftly brings resolution to the immediate story. It felt like a cop-out with little scientific basis. That is why I ranked this a 3-star book. I certainly read any sequal that might come from this (currently) stand-alone book. Maybe he is going somewhere that I don’t see with that shift towards the end that in a longer story will fit very well.
As I mentioned this is a currently a stand-alone novel. However, if you have never read any David Weber novels before, I would recommend either starting with the Safehold Series, or Empire from the Ashes. He has many, many other books worth reading as well, but that is a good starting point.