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Literature / The Silence Trilogy

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The Silence is a Space Opera Military Science-Fiction trilogy by American author David Wellington, going under the pen name D. Nolan Clark. The first book in the series, Forsaken Skies, was published September 6th, 2016. The second book, Forgotten Worlds, was published on April 18th, 2017. The third and final book, Forbidden Suns, was published on October 17th, 2017.

The trilogy's setting takes place a few centuries into The Future where humanity has started colonies on different planets throughout the galaxy. For the most part, many enjoy a time of quasi-peace. However, it's a different story for the isolated colony of Niraya, whose citizens are desperately seeking help from anyone willing. It stars Commander Aleister Lanoe, a battle-hardened and decorated Ace Pilot, who after decades of constant wars is just trying to get by. He is joined by Tannis Valk (a Red Baron Ace Pilot that Lanoe once fought against), Caroline Ehta (a former-Ace Pilot-turned-Space Marine), Auster Maggs (a Loveable Rogue Navy Lieutenant), and several others. This Ragtag Bunchof Misfits will have to fight and work together if they want to defeat these invaders.

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    In General 

    Forsaken Skies 
“Fear the Silence…"
  • Aerith and Bob - You have interesting names like Aleister Lanoe, Tannis Valk, and Auster Maggs, but then you also have characters with names like Caroline and Thom.
  • Attack Drones: What the drone fleet can become if provoked or if it finds "vermin".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Niraya is saved and the killer drones are defeated, but Zhang and many of Niraya’s colonists are dead (or severely injured), Valk realizes he’s an A.I. and just wants to die, and there’s still fleets of killer drones out there and their creators.
  • But Now I Must Go: Lanoe, Valk, and Ehta leave Niraya once all is said and done.
  • Cliffhanger: The mysterious Killer Robot drones were created by an alien species called the Blue-Blue-White and there are more drones out there.
  • Cosmic Horror Reveal: About halfway through the book, a few people claim humanity’s stretched out beyond the stars for centuries and has yet to come into contact with any aliens. Then, it’s revealed that the killer alien drones are actually terraforming drones and they attacked Niraya because they didn’t recognize humanity as a sentient species thanks to bad coding. Combine that with the fact that drones have been around for half a billion years and you get D. Nolan Clark's answer to the Fermi Paradox.
    Valk: I think we met the reason there are no aliens.
  • I Choose to Stay: Thom chooses to stay and help Niraya rebuild.
  • Improvised Weapon: Engineer Derrow manages to turn leftover terraforming machinery into artillery batteries.
  • Killed Off for Real: Zhang.
  • Killer Robot: What the invading force turns out to be.
    • Although, not really.
  • Mega-Corp: There seem to be several in the series. Centrocor, Thiesse-Gruppe, and Wilscon are just a few that are named.
  • Poor Communication Kills: On a cosmic scale. Read the Cosmic Horror Reveal entry above.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The plot does boils down to a Military Science-Fiction version of The Magnificent Seven Samurai IN SPACE!
  • The Reveal:
    • Tannis Valk is an A.I. and the real Tannis Valk died 17 years prior to the story.
    • The drones were built by aliens as a terraforming fleet and have been accidentally yet systematically eradicating any sentient species they've come across for half a billion years.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: How the Nirayans intially come off.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Due to lack of manpower, this is what Lanoe has to do to the Nirayans.
  • Zerg Rush: How the drones work towards the end.

    Forgotten Worlds 
“Fear the Darkness…"
  • All for Nothing: Lanoe goes out of his way to make sure he can get the information about the Blue-Blue-White into the right hands, away from poly spies or Navy bureaucrats, so he can get the proper support and take the fight straight to the aliens. Unfortunately, Auster Maggs kidnaps him and Valk (at the request of Fleet Admiral Varma) and the Navy leadership gets their hands on it anyway, allowing the worst-case scenario come to pass: it gets caught up in bureaucracy and nothing happens.
  • Blood Knight: Captain Shulkin definitely and Lanoe begins to border on it.
  • Call-Back: Maggs' occupation as a Navy liaison to Centrocor comes back up again.
    • A minor example. When we catch up with Ehta, she's fighting on Tuonela against Thiess-Gruppe forces. Valk mentioned in Forsaken Skies that Thiess-Gruppe had attacked Tuonela (a Wilscon-owned planet). Guess the Navy decided to back Wilscon.
  • The Cameo: Elder Mc Rae returns for one chapter to strike a deal with newcomer Ashlay Bullam.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Maggs' former position as the Navy's liaison to Centrocor comes back in a big way.
  • Cliffhanger: The book ends with Lanoe and the Hopilite crew having passed through the unstable wormhole created by the Chorus, but they have no idea where they are or that Centrocor, under the command of Blood Knight Captain Shulkin and armed with three times as much firepower and ships, is right behind them.
  • Closed Door Rapport: Maggs tries to do this with anyone who'll listen while he's trapped in the brig.
  • Darker and Edgier: This book has been generally reviewed as having a darker tone by critics and readers alike.
  • Everyone Can See It: There's no wool over anyone's eyes on the real reason Lanoe is on this mission.
  • The Determinator: The only time Shulkin seems to come to life is when there's a battle to be fought and he will not lose.
  • Field Promotion: Lanoe gives Bury and Ginger this. Bury is excited for it. Ginger, not so much.
  • Fate Worse than Death: One of the pilots Shulkin sends into the three wormhole tunnels gets caught in a reverse Time Dilation Field where seconds for Shulkin and his crew will turn into hours for the pilot, and exponentially gets worse. Shulkin decides to leave him in there rather than rescue him.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The tagline for the book "Fear the Darkness..." foreshadows a couple of things in the book as well as it's theme.
    • Lanoe and crew travel through a wormhole that is void of ghostlight, making it a pitch-black tunnel that takes them days to travel through.
    • Lanoe and crew land on another planet where they find an intra-atmosphere wormhole generator that leads them to a Pocket Dimension that is only lit by ghostlight and an apparatus built by the alien species known as The Choir.
    • Paniet at one point ponders to himself the crew's gradual descent into amorality and apathy as the mission goes on.
  • Forgotten Superweapon: Lanoe seems to view The Choir's wormhole technology as this.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The "earworm", an audio-based brain-scrambling weapon used against some of the marines on Tuonela.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Lanoe and crew have to go through a wormhole with no ghostlight. The ship is the only thing providing any light, no one can see if the wormhole will turn or not (which would lead to a crash into the walls and effectively destroy the ship), and it falls below freezing inside the ship.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In Forsaken Skies, Valk describes the Century War as a terrible war where half of humanity died. We’re told at the end of the book that A.I. were illegal and labeled too dangerous to be allowed to exist. The two seem unrelated. Here, it’s revealed that the reason A.I. are illegal and that half of humanity was wiped out in the Century War is because an A.I. was responsible for it.
  • Pocket Dimension: The Choir are found in one.
  • The Reveal: Has a few:
    • The message came from a surviving Establishmentarian and an alien species named the Choir.
    • The Choir created the wormhole system.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After running away from the battle on Niraya leaving Lanoe and crew for dead and then kidnapping Lanoe, Valk, and three innocents, Lanoe wrestles Maggs into a brig cell and decides to leave them for as long as he can.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Bury and Ginger perform a version of this when the Hopilite is attacked.

    Forbidden Suns 
“Fear the Vengeance…"
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Lanoe, knowing their enemy is Navy-trained, uses their knowledge of his own tactics to sneak a team of marines on board Centrocor's carrier and take over the fleet without losing a single ship.
  • Boarding Party: Lanoe, Ehta, and the marines board Centrocor's carrier in order to take over the ship and its destroyer compliment.
  • Broken Pedestal: When the series first starts, Aleister Lanoe was a legend among legends with people either looking up to him or fearing him. Ehta was one of his fiercest supporters and Candless had always respected his leadership skills and flying capability. By the end, they have both become disillusioned with him and justifiably want to have absolutely nothing to do with him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Maggs. Full-stop.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Almost to the point that it’s practically a Downer Ending. Humanity is saved from the impending doom of the Blue-Blue-White’s Killer Robot army, Ginger becomes the new ambassador for the Chorus and hopefully will help smooth contact between humanity and the Chorus, and the other unquantifiable species that the Blue-Blue-White’s drones accidentally murdered are brought back to life. HOWEVER, Bury, and many of the crews that visited the Blue-Blue-White homeworld are dead, Ehta can never return to active duty in the Navy, Candless refuses to return to teaching and decides to head straight for the front lines, virtually no one wants to have anything to do with Lanoe anymore, and Lanoe, enraged that Valk still allowed Zhang to die in the new timeline, kills the only friend he has left. The last couple of sentences just paint a picture of how broken Lanoe is.
  • Cessation of Existence: Paniet speculates that Lanoe could cause this on a cosmic scale if he goes through with his plan to kill the Blue-Blue-White in the past.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • One that spans the whole series. Maggs' ceremonial dirk makes a return after not being seen since Chapter 4 in Forsaken Skies.
    • Maggs' Centrocor ID. After seeing it on the drone in Forgotten Worlds, Lanoe uses it to gain access to Centrocor's carrier for him and his Boarding Party.
  • Colony Drop: Done twice. First with Rhys Batygin's destroyer on a Blue-Blue-White city and then with The Hopilite on the Blue-Blue-White's forces.
  • Death Ray: Courtesy of the Blue-Blue-White.
  • Foreshadowing: The book's tagline "Fear the Vengeance" is pretty self-explanatory from everything you can read on this page in the spoilers.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Valk who had spent most of the series begging Lanoe to let him die is asked by Ehta (of whom he’s had a lot of Ship Tease with) if he’ll join him on some future adventures, just the two of them, looking like he’ll get a happy ending after all. And then in walks Lanoe who reveals that Valk still allowed Zhang to die in the new timeline and spends the last chapter of the book hunting him down and eventually killing the suicidal A.I.
    • Maggs had been incredibly lucky to survive the events of the series, so when he makes a mad dash to escape the Blue-Blue-White's system, it is possible he could make it. Unfortunately, as he notes, his luck runs out.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: What Lanoe intends to do with a mini-wormhole generator in order to kill the entire Blue-Blue-White race, but he changed his mind before he went through with it.
  • Improvised Weapon: Lanoe almost turns a mini-wormhole generator meant for surgery into a weapon of genocide.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Maggs and Bullam. They're last seen in the story stuck on Bullam's unarmed, defenseless yacht with the Blue-Blue-White's heavily armed and pissed-off forces barreling down on them quite a distance away from the wormhole. It doesn't help that they're never mentioned again in the story.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: Paniet and Valk speculate that Lanoe might create one if he goes through with his plan to kill the Blue-Blue-White in the past.
  • The Reveal: There's a couple:
    • The unstable wormhole sent Lanoe and crew to the Blue-Blue-White's home system half a billion years in the past.
    • Zhang still died in the new timeline.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After all the conniving schemes and inconsiderate lives that Maggs and Bullam have led, they are left behind when Lanoe and crew escape back to the future with enemy ships ready to fire. Maggs says it best:
    Maggs: Even a scoundrel's luck could only take him so far.
  • Temporal Paradox: Discussed by Paniet and Valk.
  • Time Crash
  • Time Travel: Valk figures out that the unstable wormhole that the Choir summoned sent Lanoe and crew not just through space, but back in time half a billion years.
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