Out of the Dark (Weber novel)
Cover of first edition hardcover.
|Cover artist||Stephan Martinière|
|28 September 2010|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|ISBN||ISBN 978-0-7653-2412-2 (hardcover)|
Out of the Dark is an alien invasion science fiction novel by David Weber released by Tor Books on September 28, 2010. This novel is an extended version of the short story of the same name in the 2010 anthology Warriors.
The Galactic Hegemony, an alliance of assorted alien races, sent a research and survey group to Earth (designated as "KU-197-20") for assessment. The ship arrived in Earth's orbit in the 15th century, during the Hundred Years' War. The survey group observed the Battle of Agincourt between the English and French, and were horrified of humanity's feriocity and cruelty - being that war and violence rarely happened among the Hegemony.
By the 2010s, the Hegemony has reviewed the survey on Earth and is instantly repulsed. Seeing the humans as similar to the carnivorous, wolf-like Shongairi, a species recently and reluctantly admitted to their alliance, the pacifist Hegemony decides to send the Shongairi to see humanity's submission or extinction before humanity will reach a similarly advanced technology level, seeing that as the "lesser of two evils", rather than a second Shongair Empire. The Shongairi see value in the human race as slave soldiers and decide to conquer Earth and make humans their subjects. Once their expedition reaches Earth, they are surprised at humanity's advancement in only six hundred years, at six times the galactic norm. Fleet Commander Thikair orders his fleet to continue the conquest, despite Hegemony prohibitions against assaulting planets of a certain technological level, by hacking into human military computer systems and laying a series of Kinetic strikes on nearly every military installation, naval fleet, and major city on the planet with Kinetic Energy Weapons, wiping out half of the human population. Expecting that this attack to have crippled the humans, the Shongairi land their forces, concentrating on Europe and North America. They expect humans to surrender immediately, since the Shongairi and other alien races have a natural "submission mechanism". However, the surviving remnants of humanity begin a massive guerrilla war against the Shongairi, who have never before fought an advanced race. For every successful human attack, the Shongairi retaliate with an orbital strike on the attackers or any nearby survivors to inflict submission.
The conflict lasts over two months, during which nearly half the expedition's landing forces are killed, leading Shongairi xenoanthropologist Shairez discovers the reason the humans do not submit: they lacked the "submission mechanism", and their mindset (such as morality and altruism) evolved differently from any other known Hegemony species. Attempting to subjugate them would be the height of folly, as humanity - completely unable to forgive the Shongairi for what they had done to Earth - would either fight to the very end or rebel against them every few generations. As a result, Thikair decides to carry out the Hegemony's order to exterminate the humans by developing a bioweapon specifically designed to target human biology. Efforts to create the bioweapon require the capturing of human test subjects. These prisoners are transported to "Ground Base Seven", located west of the Black Sea, and "Ground Base Two" in North Carolina, where the weapon is to be released. Yet, in the following weeks, several bases in Europe and North America are wiped out by unknown attackers who leave no sign except for their handiwork.
Eventually, nearly every Shongairi base on Earth is destroyed, forcing Thikair to get his remaining forces off the planet and proceeding to outright destroy Earth from orbit. However, their dreadnoughts are immediately hijacked following the evacuation and destroy the rest of the fleet. Thikair is confronted by the hijackers, the same enemy that attacked the bases: vampires. The Shongairi commander is brought before their leader, Mircea Basarab, who is actually the immortal Vlad the Impaler, whom humans remember as Dracula. He and his kind have been hibernating and kept hidden before the Shongairi's arrival forced them to "protect" the people of Earth by creating more vampires and build an army to eliminate the Shongairi. The hijacked dreadnoughts are sent to each of the Shongairi worlds to destroy their Empire. Thikair is slain by one of the vampires, Stephen Buchevsky, whose human family was killed by the initial bombardment. Humanity now possesses Shongairi and Hegemony technology from the Shongairi industrial ships, and is fully united under the newly established Terran Empire, becoming a mighty adversary to the Hegemony.
Humans and vampires
- Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky – A U.S. Marine initially stationed in Afghanistan, also a Vampire later in the book.
- Dave Dvorak – The owner of an indoor shooting range
- Rob Wilson – A former U.S. Marine sergeant, Dvorak's brother in law
- Major Dan "Longbow" Torino – A U.S. Air Force pilot flying the F-22 Raptor
- President Harriet Palmer – The President of the United States
- Mircea Basarab – A Romanian community leader with a mysterious past, aka Dracula.
- Fleet Commander Thikair – The supreme commander of the invasion force
- Ground Force Commander Thairys – The expedition's senior ground commander
- Ground Base Commander Shairez – A junior ground commander, and lead scientist
Publishers Weekly gives a somewhat positive review and stating, "Weber pulls off this conceit in audacious style with a focus on military-powered action that will thrill fans of his Honor Harrington series, and he keeps the pedal to the metal right up to the almost unbelievable conclusion." However, Booklist unfavorably criticized the action scenes as "redundant and overburdened with long lists of munitions model numbers", the difficulty of distinguishing between most characters, and the introduction of vampires late into the story.
- Podcast interview with DW at D6G Ep 66: David Weber Interview & Game Strategies.
- (Begin listening at approximately 1:06, esp. at 1:46+, end at 1:56.)