Transformation Space is the last book in this sweeping space opera by des Pierres, so clearly if you haven’t read the previous three books you need to go back to the start of the series and track down Dark Space. However, if you’ve been waiting for this final instalment, the question has to be – does she deliver on the previous excellent storylines that have propelled this series to such admiring attention?
Mira Fedor’s pregnancy seems to be proceeding at an inhuman pace and the sedate acceptance of this state of affairs by her bizoon, Insignia, is as much an irritation as it is comfort. It seems clear that the extropists’ procedures have had an unforeseen effect – but will her child be more than human? Or less?
Meanwhile, the galaxy-wide conspiracy that has plagued the Orion League for so long is revealed. The conspirators stand unmasked, but is there time to prevent their carefully laid plans from coming to fruition? And even if there is, how many of the Orion Worlds will pay the price for their leaders’ blindness?
The pieces are all in play; all that remains is for each side to commit to its endgame. But there’s one question nobody has thought to ask: will ‘god’ play by the rules…?
Space opera tends to be epic in scope; storylines often sprawl across galaxies, while the characters tend to be larger than life and eccentrically different from the folks you brush shoulders with in Sainsburys. Let’s face it, that’s the attraction – a true escape from the everyday and mundane. Transformation Space certainly sustains the fast pace characterised in the earlier instalments, which is a plus – tying up various loose ends often silts up the final book in multi-volume series. Furthermore, des Pierres also manages to keep control of her disparate cast of characters, ensuring that they all grow and develop in varying ways after the adventures they endure – I particularly enjoyed watching Thales and Trin undergo some interesting changes, as well as following Mira’s steady growth in confidence. Overall, I think she handles closing this hectic adventure very well with most of the storylines and characters resolved to my satisfaction.
If you’re sensing a ‘but’, however, you’re right. For me, the single hole in this final book in the series is the disappearance of the Entity. I’m aware that it went missing, but having been such a feature of the earlier plot, it was something of a disappointment at how fleetingly it appeared in this book, given its pivotal importance to the storyline. Having said that, I’m aware that the whole series is a vividly depicted, ambitiously plotted piece of work and this is the only area where her sure touch stutters slightly. Overall, this is an entertaining, well executed series and Transformation Space – a worthy winner of the 2010 Aurealis Award – brings it to a successful conclusion. If you’re a fan of classic space opera and haven’t yet encountered The Sentients of Orion, take the time to track down this impressive four-book series – you won’t regret it if you do.