01/03/2012. Contributed by Andy Whitaker
pub: Scott J Robinson.368 page Kindle edition. File size: 596 KB. Price: GBP 1.96 (UK). ASIN: B00744AMGC).
This is the first novel in a four part series called ‘Tribes Of The Hakahei’. It is also the first piece of writing I have come across from this author which made me a little nervous. You just don't know what to expect from new authors and with self-published authors the quality can vary greatly.
The story is set against a backdrop of Earth, which is linked to some other planets by what appear to be magical gateways. These planets are home to dwarves, elves and other humanoid sentient species. Earth and the linked planets all come under attack from the Hurgon, an aggressive alien race determined to wage war on the Hakan people. As the story unfolds, the reasons behind the alien attack are pieced together just in time for another even deadlier race the Multeese to enter the arena.
The book starts with a prologue containing two sections: an Elsewhere and an Elsewhen. Only one of these sections is from ‘The Space Between’, which leaves the other section as a teaser for what must be coming in the next volume. This is clever stuff and it is very well written. I can tell that the author has some talent.
After the prologue, the story starts with Kim McLean almost running over Robin Hood in her car. Kim, as we learn, is the main character while Robin Hood is just someone in a costume who happens to be attending a Robin Hood festival in Sherwood Forest. Kim is a very self-assured, forthright Australian back-packer with an attitude who won't take any nonsense from anyone. The type of character you would not want to upset in any way, shape or form. She also happens to be our heroine. What a terrifying thought!
Kim manages to pick up Keeble, a deranged male dwarf and a very snooty female elf called Meledrin, who have wandered over to Earth using one of the magical gateways. This group of mismatched characters has an interesting time in England before the inevitable introduction of the Americans and a visit to Area 51. It is at this point that I wondered at the editing. Just as we have got to know the characters and things look as though they are getting interesting for them, the story takes a break to introduce another character, Tuki, who is a male moai. It’s a very long break lasting eight chapters. I kept wondering what had happened to Kim, Keeble and Meledrin.
To be fair, Tuki did need some space to allow his story to be told. The rules and social norms of the moai society play a big factor in how Tuki deals with subsequent events and people. I just wonder if it could have been interspaced with some updates on Kim and her travelling companions.
Once the main characters have been introduced the plot takes centre stage. Each race has its own distinctive characteristics and strong points. Some races also have what appears to be a dislike for each other. Dwarves don’t like elves who seem to have a disdain for anybody else. Dwarves, elves and moai are also very sexist cultures. The interspecies and inter-gender friction gets even more interesting when they rescue Cuto, one of the aggressive Hurgon aliens.
Kim has to hold her motley group together while attempting to escape the Americans, steal a spaceship and stop the war with the Hurgon without being killed in the process. This involves visiting other worlds and other universes. One universe visited has different physical laws, which stop advanced electronic systems from working.
The Americans are the first to understand that the various Hakan races currently under attack are actually closely related. Each Hakan race possesses a unique talent or skill that must be combined with those of the other races if they are going to survive the onslaught. However, not all of the required talents are obvious. Even dwarves who can fix just about anything will need specialist help to repair an FTL drive that uses clockwork.
It's very rare that I pick up a novel from a new author that is well written with good strong characters and a plot, which just makes you want to keep turning the pages to see what happens next. This is an ambitious book with a lot of new ideas. The story ties together eight races spanning multiple worlds with different universes and the possibility of a cataclysmic event somewhere in the past. The author has the skill to make it work while making sure that ‘The Space Between’ is not a difficult book to read. It is not festooned with detailed technical descriptions. Even the novel FTL drive is described in a way my grandmother could understand. The characters have depth and I really want to know what happens to them.
I’m eagerly waiting for the next volume in the series. If Scott J Robinson can keep up the standard then I think he will prove to be a very popular author with the series selling well. I certainly recommend ‘The Space Between’.
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