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Debatable Space by Philip Palmer
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Debatable Space

by Philip Palmer

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This is a space opera about a band of pirates, led by an old man named Flanagan, who abducts Lena, the daughter of the ruler of the known universe and intends to hold her for a massive ransom.

The Cheo, the ruler, isn't fussed by this at all. No ransom for you! Numerous space battles and attempts at revolution ensue. Lena, due to the part she's played in the Cheo's cruel dictatorship, begins to sympathize with the pirates and even fall in love with Flanagan.

Pure space opera. It's action-packed and fast-moving, but I felt it to be without tension. This is over a thousand years in the future, and Flanagan seems able to pull almost anything out of his ship's arse to help them win the battle, or at least escape. And the fact that any injury including beheading can be fixed up in the medlab makes hand-to-hand combat much less exciting as well. They don't even seem to react much to their injuries, which should still be agonizingly painful.

The story rambles a bit, and alternates with sections of Lena recounting her long history, but it was entertaining enough for the most part. I enjoyed the creative typography (don't worry, it isn't [b:House of Leaves|24800|House of Leaves|Mark Z. Danielewski|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327889035s/24800.jpg|856555]); some of it cutesy, but most of it works, particularly the chilling phrase hidden in the back cover teaser text. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
Orbit,fall07 ( )
  lencicki | Aug 28, 2013 |
Orbit,fall07
  orbitbooks | May 9, 2013 |
Randomly selected in the library. the narrative is annoying -- very fragmentary, many different narrators and time periods, rapid POV switching -- and the typography makes me roll my eyes (I don't need a page of the letters d o o o o o w n dripping down the page to get that she's falling). The characters are universally unlikeable; the main female character egotistical and self-justifying, the main male character smug and unprincipled. There's a lot of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. None of this is my thing.

And yet. I loved it. I gulped it down practically whole. I was on the edge of my seat. The book has an undeniable energy and joy which swept me up despite myself. It made me root for the characters despite the fact that they are all incredibly flawed. There are sciency infodumps and I do not mind. There's a deus ex machina and it just made me whoop.

I'm sure it has other flaws, but while reading it, I couldn't care less. That, in my view, is a good book -- and I'm very glad I picked up two more books by Philip Palmer on the same whim. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
A note to the reader of this review: its intent is to warn of the dangers of reading reviews, so proceed with caution. I bought this novel on the positive recommendation of a (now lost) review, since I had not seen any short fiction from this author, and this novel is his first. That review was badly wrong.

This novel is awful on every front. I managed to read up up to 'Book 2' (page 63) before giving up. It purports to be science fiction but its tale of a tough band of space pirates seizing the daughter of the all-powerful Cheon for ransom, uses a hoary set of timeworn generic cliches (the wiley pirate captain, the secret weapon, the incompetence of the military and the skill of the rogue pilot) to defeat the Cheon's entire fleet. The writing is primitive in the extreme, with off the shelf stereotyped characters engaging in supposedly 'witty banter', over-stuffed with expletives. There are some strange typographic effects, which add nothing but do pad out the page count.

Of course, this novel could be a very clever parody of bad science fiction. Or it could be a failed attempt to emulate the style of writers like Neal Asher or Richard Morgan, Unfortunately, it feels more like it was dashed off as fast as possible by someone with very limited knowledge of, and interest in, science fiction.

Be warned. And trust this review. ( )
1 vote AlanPoulter | Mar 1, 2011 |
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I lose myself in the long soaring arc of the plunging bucking near-light-speed stellar-wind-battered flight, my eyes drinking in the spectral glows and searing sunlight while my sensors calibrate velocity, acceleration, heat and cosmic radiation, I surf from visuals to instruments and back and forth until I feel the bucking of stellar wind, no, that's repetitious, delete the words "stellar" and "wind", it's now "the bucking of pulsing photons" on my fins and sail and feel the burning of the hot yellow dwarf sun on my cheeks.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316068098, Mass Market Paperback)

Flanagan (who is, for want of a better word, a pirate) has a plan. It seems relatively simple: kidnap Lena, the Cheo's daughter, demand a vast ransom for her safe return, sit back and wait.

Only the Cheo, despotic ruler of the known universe, isn't playing ball. Flanagan and his crew have seen this before, of course, but since they've learned a few tricks from the bad old days and since they know something about Lena that should make the plan foolproof, the Cheo's defiance is a major setback. It is a situation that calls for extreme measures.

Luckily, Flanagan has considerable experience in this area . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Flanagan (who is, for want of a better word, a pirate) has a plan. It seems relatively simple: kidnap Lena , the Cheo's daughter, demand a vast ransom for her safe return, sit back and wait. Only the Cheo, despotic ruler of the known universe, isn't playing ball. Flanagan and his crew have seen this before, of course, but since they've learned a few tricks from the bad old days and since they know something about Lena that should make the plan foolproof, the Cheo's defiance is a major setback. It is a situation that calls for extreme measures. Luckily, Flanagan has considerable experience in this area. Fortunately, he has had a lifetime to work it out. Unfortunately, he has far less time to execute it. Debatable Space is a space opera of extraordinary imagination, and a brilliantly plotted novel of revenge."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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Orbit Books

2 editions of this book were published by Orbit Books.

Editions: 0316018929, 0316068098

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