Tag Archives: Sentients of Orion

Review of Transformation Space – Book 4 of The Sentients of Orion by Marianne des Pierres

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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, transformationspaceInsignia, 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.
9/10

Review of Mirror Space – Book 3 of The Sentients of Orion by Marianne de Pierres

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Araldis is still under occupation by hostile forces, and with the Orion League of Sentient Species seemingly unable – or unwilling – to help, Mira Fedor is forced to turn to the mercenary captain, Rast Randall, if she is to save her planet.

mirrorspaceBut while Rast’s contacts may be free of political constraints, what they lack in red tape they more than make up for in ruthlessness. As some of their hidden strategies are revealed, others become even more opaque. Why have the philosophers of Scolar been targetted? How far does the Extropist influence extend into Orion space?  From Lasper Farr, the Stain War veteran and ruler of the junk planet Edo, to the Sole initiates at Belle Monde to Rast herself, everyone is pursuing their own agenda. But are they really separate goals? Or are events rushing to a single, terrifying conclusion . . . ?

Of course, if you’re intelligent about your reading, you will have already read Dark Space and Chaos Space, the first two books in this series, so that the above synopsis will mean something to you. If – like me – you’re a such a space opera junkie that a cool spacescape cover and promising first page prove to be irresistible, then you’re probably scratching your head. My strong advice is not to read this book before the first two in the series. Some multi-book series are constructed so the story arcs more or less tie up a number of loose ends in each book, while leaving a few dangling to keep you reading. This isn’t one of them. Each volume is thoroughly embedded into the narrative, so that I was frankly floundering for a while. However, I didn’t really care too much.
Pierres’ cast of eccentric characters found themselves in such a range of fascinating situations that I was prepared to relax and go with the flow. This is largely down to the punchy writing style which was a joy to read, as sampled in the opening of the book:-
Falling in love was like being shot out into space wearing an EVA suit with five minutes’ air supply left. At least that was the analogy Jo-Jo Rasterovich applied to it – having experienced both.

And there I was, hooked. I’m now going to backtrack to Dark Space and start from the beginning, before moving through the rest of the series, which is the sensible way to read any multi-book narrative.

Despite the fact that I crashed mid-series into this world, and spent a while getting my bearings, it didn’t prove to be too difficult. While the pace isn’t leisurely, neither is it so flat-out that the characters and their role in the story became buried, which was something of an issue when I pulled Code Noir off the shelf without reading the first Parrish Plessis book. Indeed, I am impressed at the steep improvement in Pierres’ overall writing style from Code Noir to Mirror Space. She has the balance between character development and action far more satisfactory and the pacing is better judged with a few pauses for breath, before plunging us into yet another piece of action. And in smoothing out some of the crinkles, I’m delighted to report that she hasn’t lost her sharp, highly readable prose style. All in all, she is shaping up to be a real player in this genre and I am definitely starting a campaign for the first two books as early Christmas presents… please!
8/10