A brief adventure that never quite achieves the climax required

Written by
Eric Brown in 2012

When one hears of a book series called Weird Space, it sounds pretty intriguing. I mean what about this area of space is “weird”. Amirite? Turns out it isn’t about a strange region of space at all. It’s about something completely different.

Ed, Lania and Jed are on a former human world, now occupied by an aggressive alien race called the Vetch, trying to find some relics from a museum. After encountering wildlife and some Vetch behaving strangely, they manage to get off the planet safely, only to be picked up by their human government.

They’re interrogated and then sentenced to death by lethal injection, unless they partake in a dangerous mission to a previously unexplored part of space and find the source of a signal from a group of lost colonists. Left with little choice, they agree and together with some marines and officers from the human government, begin to investigate the star system where the signal originated.

Once they arrive, they do find the remnants of the colonists, but as you can guess, not all is as it seems. The aliens that coexist with the human colonists seem to have ulterior motives, and the colonists appear to be a little bit too happy. Weird eh? Without spoiling the rest of the story, the Weird are an alien species that coexist with humans on this alien world, hence the series taking the name Weird Space.

The Devil’s Nebula isn’t a long book, indeed you’ll be at the end before you even realise it. This is at once it strength, and its weakness. I know there is no need for an enormously long voluminous book, or even series of books in any saga. Yet they exist, and much of those series could be considered filler. Devil’s Nebula contains no filler, but there are plot points, especially at the start of the book concerning the Vetch, which never go anywhere.

Instead, the book narrows it focus down completely to the journey of Ed and his crew to the world of the Weird and their short sharp adventures. The characters are great, but they never really develop, mainly because the book is so short, there is no opportunity to. I also think that the ending, such as it is, is too cliché and too “happy”.

Though there is a good basis for a better realisation of the universe in which the characters reside, there is really no such attempt at doing so in this book. Perhaps it’s written in such a way that it deliberately whets the appetite of the reader, but upon finishing this, you feel kind of hollow, like all you’ve had for lunch is a banana and a protein shake, rather than a juicy steak with roast potatoes. I’ve got the sequel lined up to be read as well. Hopefully, it fills a few blanks in.

Rating

A good, but not great book that is short, but should have been a bit longer to be completely satisfying.

Read this if you…

Enjoy science fiction adventures, but don’t like too much filler or thinking.

Don’t read this if you…

Have a penchant for long books. You’ll be able to finish this in a decent commute to and from work…

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