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Review: The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story

April 9, 2009

In the far future, gap drives faster-than-light deep space travel, but sometimes this afflicts some with irreparable brain damage. A Zone Implant can turn such a person into a zombie, to protect his shipmates, but it’s highly illegal. Ensign Morn Hyland works for the United Mining Company, which is in charge of law enforcement throughout known space. She lives aboard a police ship, together with most of her family; their job is to chase down pirates and other illegals who prey on the weak, or smuggle goods into forbidden space. Her life is nothing out of the ordinary – until she falls in with the pirate Captain Nick Succorso. All of a sudden, the young, strong, beautiful police officer appears to be falling in love – well, lust at least – with the murdering pirate, or so it appears to the folk at the space station’s bar. But the real story was quite different . . .

If you were to take all the reviews for this novel; the positives and the negatives, an overwhelming majority would declare that it is ‘dark’ or ‘disturbing’ or ‘a crime against humanity’. I shudder to think what an actual ‘dark’ book would receive. We have a slight tendency to over-express ourselves; we take an element and blow it out of proportion.

When I read The Real Story, I expected a deranged, a sickening vision of lewd and disgusting behaviour. I’ve read reviews where the reviewer would say that the sex is gratuitous, the violence is extreme. It isn’t. In fact, the sex is not played up; it’s there but Donaldson doesn’t focus upon relaying detail upon detail of what happened.

What I am trying to express here is not that it’s all fun and games, no, because the core of the story is about the degradation of a woman. It is a dark subject matter. It is uncomforting to read. Yet, I never found outrageous, or in your face. It’s simply told without any flourishes.

The main problem I had with it is too ‘undercooked’. It’s as if Donaldson hasn’t fleshed out the story, or I think, rather, he has to get this cumbersome prologue before he gets to the actual ‘meat’ of the story. I didn’t extract anything from the book, the character didn’t seem particularly real and, if I’m being honest here, I didn’t really feel for Morn’s plight.

That’s not to say I that I was indifferent when she was raped or humiliated, but generally most people would find that to be terrible. However, I didn’t find she was much of a character, she was one-dimensional for me. This criticism goes for the other two characters. I think I’m right in saying that this was supposed to be the case, that they were designed as fitting certain archetypes.

Of course, saying all that I am going to read the second volume. There is potential there because in the background of The Real Story, there is a sense that a world is emerging into view. I am looking forward to when we see this future more clearly.

So to summarise, I think that the book is very much a small step to something bigger. That it is preparation to the main story. I hope. A good example of this is The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, the first is bad, in fact, many people can’t finish it. However, the second book is excellent and the series goes on from there. I hope that The Gap series is like that.

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