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06/07/2019 15:25:54 •••

An Awful B-Movie in Book Form

Leave your brain at home — you won't need it where this book is taking you. The plot is a pretty standard "aliens who are slightly more technologically advanced than humans invade Earth, and we handily kick their butts" story, with most of it feeling like it was lifted straight out of Niven and Pournelle's Footfall (especially the beginning). I didn't actually much like Footfall either, because it — like this book — leaned a bit too heavily into the whole macho, rah rah, woo humanity and especially the part of it that lives in America trope set; however, if that sort of stuff appeals to you, Footfall is at least a much better-written take on it. At the very least, Footfall doesn't stop every three paragraphs to give you a lengthy, boring, and completely irrelevant info dump on the exact kind of gun the protagonists are currently using to mow down entire alien armies.

I did not know about the "big twist" before I read the book, and let me just say, it does accomplish one thing: It pushes this book slightly out of "ugh, this is poorly written and boring" territory and into "so bad, it's good!" land. I didn't quite laugh out loud, but it was genuinely amusing, more than anything. If this were a better written story, perhaps the twist could have even worked, in a bizarre, nearly-surreal, or genuinely comedic kind of way. As it is, however, my first thought was that perhaps this book was written as a parody, with the final over-the-top twist meant to make it clear just how ridiculous this kind of plot really is. To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure — perhaps Weber did intend the book to be a parody of the whole "humanity, f*** yeah!" genre. Perhaps the painful gun-themed info dumps, the over-the-top, ridiculously bad-ass characters, and the final laughable twist are all meant to drive the point home, and we all just missed the joke. I think I'd prefer to believe that. But if Weber truly meant this book to be a somewhat-serious work of science fiction and fantasy, I'd say it's in dire need of a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 styled re-reading and commentary. Placed alongside classics like Space Mutiny and Hobgoblins, Out of the Dark would truly take its rightful place in the science fiction and fantasy canon.

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