Sunday, October 18, 2015
Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman
A compelling debut featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder. “Intellectually daring, brilliantly imagined, strongly felt. This one's a winner.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.
Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.
Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.
It is hard to talk about Dark Orbit without giving spoilers. It starts out as fairly standard Science Fiction. Then it takes a turn as a mystery. Just when I decided solving the mystery was the main theme it took another turn and became something else. Two different turns so surely that was the last one. But no. It just kept changing.
Just like the plot the main characters also changed. What looked like a minor character became the driving force in the story. Her journal entries start as just a side note to the plot. As the book progresses they become more and more important and instead of a filler they are what carry the plot forward.
There is a large cast of characters to support the story line. Like the plot many are not what they seem.
Plot, world building, back story and characters are all mixed into a very interesting and unusual story. Gilman’s writing reminds me of Nancy Kress. Like Kress she starts one place and surprises the reader by arriving at a totally unexpected destination.
If you like your Science Fiction to have unusual twists and turns Dark Orbit is a must read.
Dark Orbit is the Goodreads Beyond Reality Group choice for October 2105. You can follow the links on Gilman’s Goodreads page to see what others say about the book.
Tor published Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman in 2015.