Book review

A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea
Read date: Dec 2018

A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to say, although I found it hard to get started, I really enjoyed this book. It explores two quite different intelligent alien species, and their interactions with humans. One species (the Ilmataran) is much less advanced than us, the other (the Sholen) somewhat more so. Together with the setting of the story – in a liquid-water ocean below the mile-thick ice layer on a moon around a gas giant – the book sets out to explore the interactions between them. They are the characters, really, rather than the human participants, with the interactions between them driving the plot forward.

Of course, as with all good fiction, it’s all just a veneer over humanity and our predilections:

“While war for love is inspiring in legends and epic poems, we must be governed by cynical pragmatism.”

Or even:

“Well, yeah, but the Russian Navy didn’t order you to hide out in the ocean of Ilmatar waging war on a bunch of aliens.” Josef didn’t answer. “They did?” “Was given contingency plans,” said Josef at last.

At times the book was a little sparsely written – it tended towards the short, declarative, sentence. But this was in keeping with the characters (the different species) being presented, and as the plot developed, the whole thing was very successfully driven forward by this.

Overall, an interesting and well put together interaction between these different elements.

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