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The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story

(The Gap Cycle #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  9,353 ratings  ·  452 reviews
The Real Story is a short but intense tale set in a future in which humans travel between the stars using "gap drives," controllable brain implants are punishable by death, and a private company called the United Mining Company runs law enforcement for all of known space. Ensign Morn Hyland lives aboard a police ship with most of her family, chasing down pirates and other ...more
Published by Bantam Books (first published 1990)
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EvilCherub loves badass fems hates most YA fic. Hahahaha. It's twisted, but in the best possible way. I love the exploration of horribleness and how some very unsavoury characters develop. I actuall…moreHahahaha. It's twisted, but in the best possible way. I love the exploration of horribleness and how some very unsavoury characters develop. I actually read this as a kid of about 11 and I've made it through just fine. ;)(less)

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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  9,353 ratings  ·  452 reviews

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Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was my second attempt at reading a Stephen R. Donaldson novel. My first attempt was way back in my teens when I picked up Lord Foul's Bane. My read of the first Thomas Covenant book went so poorly that I never even finished the story. I had loved the concept and found Donaldson's writing to be fairly engaging, but I was too disgusted with the character of Thomas to continue reading his story. It was my hope that The Real Story would have more of what I liked and less of what I did not. Unfo ...more
3am. Surely the right time.

Call me completely insane, but I've agreed to read this (I wrote a few months ago)

....after a conversation that went like this:

Me: I hate Thomas Covenant
Noela: But you have to read the Gap series
Me: Huh?
Noela: It is about a girl who has the most appalling things happen to her. You read a bit, put it down thinking 'that's it! No more' but then you can't help yourself. You have to know what dreadful thing is going to happen to her next. You have to!
Me: Grumble, grumble,
Dirk Grobbelaar
I’d had the Gap series on my radar for a while, so when I came across the 55 essential Space Operas according to Barnes & Noble and saw The Real Story on there I decided to have at it.

Having finished the book (fairly quickly as it turned out – it’s not a very long read) I’m a bit out of sorts as to how to review it. It certainly was nothing like I had expected. It also isn’t the easiest of reads; despite reading quickly it contains a lot of scenes depicting things like rape, um, rape and more ra
I have a negative past with Stephen R. Donaldson’s work. I loathe the Thomas Covenant series and I could only read the first book of the Mordant’s Need duality. I had the second book on my TBR until I realized that the thought of picking it up depressed me profoundly and I decided to let it go.

So it was with distinct reservations that I picked up The Gap into Conflict and no one was more surprised than me when I actually enjoyed it. The subject matter is difficult, but the insights into the main
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gap really explores the cycle of hero/victim/villain. Between the first book and the last, the cycle has turned atleast twice, with the main characters exploring and fulfilling all the roles.

The Real story is a brutal book. No mistake, its a hard read. But between Donaldson's writing, and the compelling back story, it really sets the stage for a wider story. The characters do develop and change over time. This is a dark book, with dark characters, and is by no means a book that is intended f
Mark Harrison
Interesting sci-fi story featuring numerous pirates and Morn, a female cop captured and implanted with a mind control device. At the mercy of the depraved Angus she is horribly brutalised - too much in my opinion. Salvation might be in the form of another pirate the mercurial Nick - but will she live that long ?? Interesting premise but the violence spoilt things.
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will tell you what I don't like about this book right up front, to warn those who might wish to be warned: there's a LOT of raping and psychological abusing of the main female character. In fact, it's an essential element of the story most of the way through the book. I don't criticize the actual book for it, because it was necessary in order to tell this particular story about this particular man who was acting fully within his character to do such a thing. But it's still really unpleasant to ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have been a fan of Stephen R. Donaldson since I read the Thomas Covenant Chronicles in the 70s. In this new series, the Gap Chronicles, Donaldson moves to science fiction from fantasy. Be warned, this is a brutal series to read (like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but it is also a phenomenal study in character development. The first book is the most difficult, and really only sets the stage for the rest of the series. I read this series after it was completed so I was able to read it straig ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another recommendation from my husband, with the caveat that The Gap series can be a pretty dark and brutal read. I asked, "Dark and brutal like A Song of Ice and Fire but with spaceships?" His answer: "Actually, that's not such a bad comparison, in the horrible-things-happening-to-the-main-characters kind of way." So I picked this up knowing exactly what I was in for.

This first book, originally meant to be a standalone novella, only reads like an introduction to the three main characters. Howe
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Apparently, this is the novel you have to "get through" before getting into the real meat of this series.

Stephen R. Donaldson has his fans, but those who aren't fans aren't for one particularly glaring reason: the rapes.
A lot of people took severe outrage on his character Thomas Covenant in his fantasy series for having his way with a woman in a world he did not believe really existed.
If I remember correctly, and this was a few decades ago, he committed rape because he believed this was all in h
Jul 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If this were a longer book, I'm not sure I would have finished it. There's an awful lot of rape and murder going on, and it's not always clear that it's serving the plot. The main character casually murders people by the dozen. In the middle of the book there are almost a dozen scenes in which the main character rapes one of the other major characters. This isn't described in excruciating detail, but it's stomach churning and probably makes this book something to avoid for anyone personally deal ...more
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BDSM Peeps
Shelves: science-fiction
I found this on the street and thought it was a science fiction book... halfway through I decided I had stumbled into a perverse romance novel, than towards the end I thought it was sci-fi... now I'm not quite sure. It's not exactly romantic with all the rape and sexual torture so explicity described, but, well, I don't know. I liked it, but felt kinda dirty afterwards and I don't quite feel like reading the next book in the series. I'm kinda scared to be honest. ...more
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, gap-cycle
This is got to be by far the darkest book I have read this year, because there were so much stomach churning scenes in this book that it gave me a feeling of watching a psychological horror movie like Misery. Also I was a bit skeptical reading Donaldson again due to the fact that Thomas covenant's first two books were a drag for me, but Donaldson sure has turned the tide in this book and has written some compelling stuff.

Some of the strong points of the book are

1.A compact story.
2.Hard to like a
Oct 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-space-opera
3.5 stars. Beginning volume of the very dark and gritty Gap Series. Excellent character study and hints of some very nice world-building. I will certainly read the next volume in the series though this book, on its own, was not spectacular.
Kevin Brady
I like my fiction DARK.

There is no character in this series that isn't deeply, perhaps even fatally flawed. Donaldson is a master storyteller, well loved for his Thomas Covenant series. His science fiction is tighter paced, first-person viewpoints similar to Game of Thrones novels.

This story has it all for a hard-core science fiction lover. High tech, deep space, aliens that are distinctive and not humanoids, with very different motivations from ours. Blaster wars, derelict space-craft, pirates,
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is my first Donaldson book to read. I finished it in just a few days, and it wasn't because it was short, but because there was something about Donaldson's narrative style that made me going. The story is pretty simple, told by a narrator who doesn't leave much room for the reader to judge, who gives little description to the setting, the era, and what humankind has achieved and reached thus far, and who concentrates only on what the "real story" is. And yet, the story was captivating. Ther ...more
Mark Tallen
I enjoyed this story and the book is well written. Yes, it has disturbing themes and violence throughout but its only a work of fiction. Our real world is much more disturbing and violent, just put the news on TV for the confirmation. The author showed courage to write the book and we see deeply into the dark recesses of a particular character's dark and troubled mind. I say courage because I'm sure he got slammed by some people and I think that is unfair because stated earlier, it's only a work ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donaldson can write like nobody's business and this excursion into space opera is no exception. It is fast-paced and intricately plotted. There are a few reasons, however, that I cannot give it five stars. First of all, the level of violence, particularly sexual violence, is off the charts. It's excruciating to read and there are scenes you wish you could scrub from your brain. This violence is not gratuitous--it is key to understanding the actions and thinking of the characters, but it is defin ...more
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Not having picked up a Donaldson book since the second trilogy of Thomas Covenant, I was surprised to rediscover just how much I savor this author's prose. Reading his books is tantamount to Hannibal Lector adorning his meal with fava beans. I really feel like I get into the character's heads.

This book is essentially a science-fiction homage to Wagner's Ring Cycle, but it is considerably more than that. It deals with a cataclysmic love triangle, but it is considerably more than a soap opera or t
Sep 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A rather old-fashioned book that is meant to be a character study wrapped in a space opera.

Writing was unexceptional. The bondage/slavery angle was icky.

There only was one character, despite it being a psychological threesome.

The space opera was almost American western inspired. Tech involved a lot of hand waving and was unoriginal.

The twist at the end was just impossible, given everything you'd learned about the main character. (view spoiler)
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two men and one woman form a triangle composed of villian, victim and savior. But which person is which?

THE REAL STORY is the small-seed beginning of The Gap, one of the most hard-hitting sci fi series I've read. Powerful character archetypes find themselves on various sides of an ethical free-for-all. What can be justified when the goal is to keep humanity from being mutated into the enemy species?

I called it a series, but actually it's a 5-part novel, each book opening onto wider horizons than
Thomas Stacey
A tough read, even for me. Grimdark is one thing, then there's the hell the female lead has to endure throughout the entire book. Well written, but uncomfortable reading.

Having just finished the third book, it's definitely worth persevering. The first book (more of a novella) serves as an introduction to the central characters. From here a very dark yet satisfying story emerges, with superb world building and interesting characters.

For people on the fence, I'd recommend trying book 2 before call
Joseph Michael Owens
I'm ready to roll when the rest of you guys are (Peter, Nick, Jack et al. & anyone else who wants to get in on a group read)!!

Interesting and well written. I've had this series recommended AT me by a few people. It gets better from what i've heard but the first book didn't really grab me. Very interesting characters, and interesting dynamic between them, but that is the whole book. I'll forge ahead and see what happens. ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hated this book but have given it a two star rating because it's mercifully short and sets up what is a pretty good series. ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first volume of Stephen Donaldson's Gap series tells a story that sets he stage for the volumes to come. It's a futuristic tale of three people: two pirate ship captains, Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso, and a woman, Morn Hyland, who is Thermopyle's captive and the object of Succorso's interest. Determined to free her from Thermopyle's clutches, Succorso frames his rival for a crime he did not commit, freeing Hyland from Thermopyle's control and leaving her former captor a prisoner of the ...more
R.P. Morel
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: everything_else
Good story, but very dark like a lot of Donaldson's writing is. ...more
Dave O
Mar 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Still with the rape, I see. If you love rape as much as Stephen R. Donaldson and his characters have proven to over the course of his bibliography, then you’ll love this book!


I shouldn’t have even picked this up given Donaldson’s track record, but I thought “let’s see what he does with sci-fi (and I can’t express enough how loosely I use the term sci-fi here). If not for the novel’s short length, I definitely would have stopped reading this complete piece of garbage the moment the main c
Oct 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ezri K
Mar 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Book was too full of rape, abuse, and narcissistic demented characters with the treatment and veiw of females as things to be own and controlled.
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Stephen Reeder Donaldson is an American fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novelist; in the United Kingdom he is usually called "Stephen Donaldson" (without the "R"). He has also written non-fiction under the pen name Reed Stephens.


Stephen R. Donaldson was born May 13, 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, James, was a medical missionary and his mother, Ruth, a prostheti

Other books in the series

The Gap Cycle (5 books)
  • The Gap Into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge (Gap, #2)
  • The Gap Into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises (Gap, #3)
  • The Gap Into Madness: Chaos and Order (Gap, #4)
  • The Gap Into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die (Gap, #5)

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