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Debatable Space

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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 d
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Paperback, 560 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Orbit (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 631)
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Brad
Every once in a while, when I am in a bookstore, I find myself needing to leave, but I have nothing in my hands. Sometimes it's because I am wandering around while the kids are in ballet and I need to get back to pick them up; sometimes it's because I came for something specific and it isn't there; and sometimes it's because I am in the middle of an indecisive phase.

But I have an answer for all this. With time ticking away, I pick a section -- Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery, History, Biography, Fictio
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Nikki
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 th ...more
Terence
Aug 26, 2010 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Space Opera fans
Recommended to Terence by: Brad's review
Shelves: sf-fantasy
“But I have an answer for all this. With time ticking away, I pick a section -- Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery, History, Biography, Fiction, whatever -- and I look for the first name or cover that captures my attention. If it is by an author I don't know I buy it.”


This quote from Brad’s review of Debatable Space decided me on reading this novel as I’m familiar with the phenomenon of which he speaks. I don’t follow his method exactly but there are several authors I’ve discovered by similar means, incl
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Mel
Feb 16, 2009 Mel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mel by: Sam
This book felt like a first novel.

It tackles an epic scope with a cast of millions (or billions or trillions) of extras who act in ignorable unison without variation nor dissent.

A central character is woven through history like Forest Gump, except the future history chosen is lurching and inconsistent. The character is racked with ennui and the inability to choose even the most trivial aspects of her personal life, but simultaneously able to make political accomplishments on the scale of Julius
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Sjhigbee
Like your space opera with plenty of action? What about some science fiction technology thrown in for good measure? Oh – and a band of violent but likeable pirates – how does that sound? There’s more… How’d you feel about a sexy, powerful heroine whose voyage of self-discovery runs parallel to the epic battle scenes and power struggles that litter this story? Palmer delivers all this in his impressive debut novel.
Engrossed in devising rhapsodic phrases about a newly discovered sun, Lena is far
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Michelle
I had a bad feeling when I started reading this book that I was going to hate it. It had a sort of self-published air about it that filled me with dread.

But I persevered, and I'm glad I did, because this was just an excellent book. Filled with Big Ideas and fun characters. I'm not sure I could this book justice by trying to describe it.

It takes place over millenia, and although the science is outlandish, it's also plausible. And the aliens are cool.

It's structured unlike anything you're likely
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Scott
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 a
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Matthew
Some people are giving this book 2 stars for the same reason I'm giving it 4 and a half. Sure, the plot felt fragmented but that created a real frenetic energy. Healthy characters might suddenly be dead in a sentence, battles were chock full of hyperbole, and I had a strong suspicion that absolutely everyone in the entire universe was out of their mind. But aren't those the very things that make Palmer's universe believable? It all fits together; there wasn't a single moment/character/scene that ...more
C. Owen
I’m having a lousy run with sci-fi lately. This “book” is the latest miserable failure. Thankfully, this is a book my housemate got from the library. Unthankfully, my tax dollars may have been used to purchase it by said library. Oh well . . .

I read—some time ago, when I wasn’t reading much sci-fi—about this trend in modern sci-fi for authors to attempt to be “literary”. I first encountered this when attempting to read a book by a guy named China Miéville. That book (as I noted in my un-review)
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Matt
Debatable Space is an interesting book as Phillip Palmer takes numerous liberties with the rules of writing, while some work well, others don’t. But I do applaud the effort to give the story, at times, more of visual feeling. The atmosphere created in Debatable Space reminded me of the short lived TV show, Firefly. Pirates bent on revenge that don’t necessarily get along but are held together to fight a common cause. There is also some humor sprinkled through out the story that either had me chu ...more
Liberty
If this book was primarily about Flanagan, I could probably endure it. However, I find Lena tedious, and the sex element has become unbearable. Therefore, I'm putting this book aside.
Soho_black
After years of writing for television and radio, Philip Palmer has switched to novel writing and has landed himself in the science fiction genre for his debut release, "Debatable Space". Being such a popular genre, it's difficult to find anything new to say, so to stand out any new writer has to have something different. Palmer has managed that, but only in part.

Firstly, he manages to surprise by making a hero out of a space pirate. This isn't a unique idea, as it's something that Ben Bova has d
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Ron
Space opera. Good space opera--a little repetitive and too many data dumps--but a space opera nonetheless.
Billy
Really conflicted about this book.

Wonderfully imagined - really cool, really interesting ideas, and delivered mostly by a character so self-absorbed she makes the cast of Seinfeld look like Buddhist monks.

It was a real barrier to my enjoyment. I wanted to like the book more but I just hated the character. Which may have been Palmer's intent, I don't know...I'm going to give his other stuff a try if for no other reason than his imagination is a hell of an interesting place to poke around.
Clay
Philip Palmer is a scifi newcomer, and his take on a grand space epic, ‘Debatable Space’ (Orbit, $12.99, 496 pages) involves the attempted overthrow of an all-powerful emperor. The pirate Flanagan is determined to free the colonies of Earth from the Cheo, the cruel and ruthless ruler who imposes his will through the use of Doppelganger Robots (DRs), which operate, due to quantum entanglement, instantaneously at a great distance. These indestructible DRs enslave normal humans on colony planets, r ...more
Don Viecelli
From My Newsletter #17:
I found a new author, Philip Palmer, and I read his debut novel Debatable Space. Mr. Palmer brings considerable writing experience in the media arena, but this is his first science fiction novel. There are several original aspects to this novel. One, it is plotted on a grand scale, in a large universe and moves back and forth in time. Two, the characters are unique and have strange personalities, both good and bad. Three, the writing is very unconventional and each chapter
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Blanche
YOU ARE PREY.

What this book is is an enjoyable romp of a sci-fi novel. What this book thinks it is is the most daring, revolutionary, incredible piece of science fiction in the last 50 years. From the jacket of the book, to the characters themselves, to the author's after word -- almost every sentence is filled with the hyperbole of people constantly singing their own praises. In reality, there is nothing either new or particularly revolutionary about this story, especially considering the autho
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Rusty
At the end of the day, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to. My problem, put bluntly, is that no one in this book is very nice.

Sure, everyone has a tragic past, but more than anything, Lena is the person that has to carry this novel, it’s 500 plus pages long and about 300 or so of those pages are her telling us about her 1000 year-long life. A life that began in the early 21st century.

And I do mean that we got it all. I got to learn all about the best fr
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Libby
I have to state that parts of this book were very entertaining and engrossing. The big splashy super-science effects were exciting and as far as I can tell,(History Major---You do the Math,) plausible for an advanced civilization. Despite numerous flashbacks, the story moved swiftly through a richly envisioned galaxy. Now that I've covered the good stuff, I've got to tell you, there's bad stuff. First, this is Space Opera, and once we move past the flashy special FX, there is very little develop ...more
Dave de Burgh
Reading Debatable Space is akin to being shoved into a washing machine while tripping your brains out - it is such a wild ride that I still find myself amazed that I survived it! :-)

Take it from me (if you’d like :-) ), Philip Palmer is going to be regarded as one of the legends of SF. This book, as more and more people read it, is going to be held up as one of the most innovative SF novels to hit the shelves in years! This book sits well in the same company as Clarke’s Odyssey and Rama series,
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C. D.  Brinker
This book made me cry. Why? Because I was stupid enough to have bought it and wasted my days reading it. To be fair, the story overall was okay . . . Albeit hackneyed and full of trite characters. But 2/3 of the book was nothing but sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. I mean, come on! The mark of a true amateur is immature thematic elements . . . And the only thing more immature than constant sexual exploration is a poo-poo-pee-pee comed ...more
Chris
Wow. What a dense, fantastic, rollicking read! This one should be placed right next to 'Ringworld' on the great science fiction shelf. I bought this book back in 2008 and it sat on my "to read" bookshelf ever since. I am so glad I chose to read this in my 2013 sci-fi summer reading list.

This is one loooong tale (both literally and story-wise); I think the timeline stretches for 100s of years covering the same characters. It takes place in a far-flung future where ANYTHING is possible. It could h
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Paul Cummings
The premise of the story sounded intriguing, but the million year battle scene at the end was ghastly, and the characters don't seem to show any remorse at losing family and loved ones. I think it was a little too dark humor for my taste but it's written well. It's not a book I would want to read over and over.
Chuck
I haven't read a book that grabbed the reader by the nose and dragged him on a caterwauling ride that didn't stop until the last page since I first read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

Until now.

Debatable space has the kind of effect. It features the oldest woman in human history, a pirate, and the most despotic leader imaginable (who runs the Earth as a profitable corporation). Plot summary is possible but beside the point; the way the author shifts points of views, and the effect that reading the
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Goetz
Ok, I finished it, but there were several moments where I was wondering if I should. For a book that spans several hundred years with the same characters it didn't feel right that we didn't really get to know them. Also the casual loss of lives of supporting characters felt strange. The science might be possible, but it didn't really show what it does with societies and I thought the politics of it questionable, also from the resistance side. The lone pirate that battles the omnipotent dictators ...more
Bookbrow
More of an 3.5, some great moments, some excess, interesting none the less.
James Kidd
So many, many ideas. Such imagination. An amazing book in many respects for its breadth, its sweep, its action and its ideas. But there is a reason why I read another 3 or so books in between starting and finishing this - it was just somehow was less than the sum of its parts. Which is a real shame. Enjoyable for the most part. Version 43 was better. Have just got Artemis out from the library so Palmer is clearly doing something right for me.
Egil
Prior to reading Debatable Space I read some reviews posted here. Many reviews had the same criticisms so my expectations were lowered some. After completing this book my expectations were surpassed and I enjoyed it very much.

If Quentin Tarantino were to write sci fi novels they would resemble Palmer's work - fast paced, low brow, funny and with over the top action and too much sex and vulgarity. Very entertaining!
David
This book wandered around, showing off a few ideas and technologies, but never really developing them. The characters were also under developed. Even Lena, with her thousand year lifespan, well she wasn't under developed as much as inconsistently developed. She had different personalities at the different points in her life. It became tedious reading her ruminations about her life and her situations.
Robin
Interesting writing style - written in the perspective of lots of characters, but somehow the story seems to trip along without being broken up.

I picked up the book because it had hidden on the back blurb You Are All Prey within the overall review - which I thought was clever. Sometimes the styleistic flourishes didn't work, but overall a very interesting writing style and lots of plot twists.
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“I felt like a character in a science fiction story, trapped in someone else's body, articulating someone else's words. To be frank, I bored even myself. And by the time I was thirty-six, my course was set, my die stamped, I knew I would never change.” 0 likes
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