Shawn's Reviews > The Void

The Void by Brett J. Talley
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M_50x66
's review
Jun 11, 12

Read in June, 2012

"The Void" is high on imagination, but low on technical skill. These deficits kept the horror from ever actually taking hold, and without that, the shallow characters and paint-by-numbers plot couldn't hold my interest.

The plot itself is pure "Event Horizon," with shared details like a failed spaceship drive and a crewman's log giving critical exposition. Although the ship itself has not gained some sort of sentience, it is infested by quite similar hell-creatures, who plan to use the ship as a gateway to conquest of all that is good and pure.

Meanwhile, the mechanics of a spaceship were lifted unceremoniously from Star Trek. The author threw around terms like "warp bubble," and he wrote interactions with the ship's computer that made me wonder if he heard Majel Barrett in his head as he wrote.

The science behind the science fiction is shaky, showing only a casual understanding behind the physics of black holes. Terms like "time dilution" and "heated death of the universe" (instead of "time dilation" or "heat death") show that the author had no more than a nodding acquaintance with the genre in which he was writing. For that matter, his command of the English language in general is equally shaky, with one character "saying his peace," instead of "his piece."

Much stronger are the dream sequences which take up several chapters in the first half of the novel. Knowing that this was the author's first foray into science fiction, and that prior works were more of a Lovecraftian pastiche, tell me that his strengths were simply not put to good use in this book.

The prose was purple enough to have royal blood, riddled with cliched phrases like "And so it was that....", more suited to a Tolkien rip-off than sci-fi horror. Long swaths of descriptive text stood out as completely out of tone with the rest of the novel.

Characters were flat, introduced without telling us why we should care about them. At no point in the early chapters did any of them stand out, and only when I had managed to slot them into their roles (hero, love interest, villain, etc.) did I succeed in keeping them straight. The overall impression was action figures being manipulated in playtime, rather than real characters interacting in a meaningful way.

The end result was an interesting (if familiar) premise, told using uninspired language and plotted in a series of tropes that left no room for the terror the book wished to convey.
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