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Debatable Space by Philip Palmer

01/02/2011. Contributed by Paul Hanley

Buy Debatable Space in the USA - or Buy Debatable Space in the UK

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pub: Orbit. 469 page enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 10.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-619-1. pub: Orbit. 469 page paperback. Price; GBP 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-620-7).

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Lena, a daughter of Cheo, the dictatorial ruler of Humanity, is kidnapped from her spaceship by pirates. They know who she is and because of this expect her father will pay the ransom.

Whilst Lena is in the pirates clutches, she is faced for the first time in her privileged life by having to suborn herself to the requirements of others. Lena is a flawed character being opinionated, selfish and vain. We see the elaborate world the author has created partly through her eyes and partly through the individual eyes of the pirates who captures her.

The writer frequently changes viewpoint character, often after only a few sentences, and whilst this might extend our understanding of a scene, I have to say I found it mostly irritating and felt it broke up the flow of the narrative. There is a fair bit of swash and buckle, which I like, and the author has tried to create an epic rather on the scale of some of Isaac Asimov’s books. There is a deal of sex in the book. My adult life has been spent as a soldier and then a lawyer dealing with crime and matrimonial matters so I do not believe I am a prude but merely prefer to keep sex out of the Science Fiction I read. This is, of course, a matter of taste.

The chief pirate, Flanagan, wishes to liberate people from the dictatorship of Lena’s father. He works on getting her to join him. The pirates are able to switch bodies and thus can fight endless battles switching to the bodies of their enemies as the one they are in are killed.

Whilst I enjoyed parts of this book, overall, I did not enjoy it. However, I gather this is Mr. Palmer’s first book and perhaps you might borrow it from your local library and judge for yourself.

Paul Hanley