Out of the Darkby David Weber, Charles Keating
Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.
Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols
Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.
Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed.
His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity—but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force.
Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity…until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth.
“Gripping…. Shifting effortlessly between battles among warpspeed starships and among oarpowered galleys, Weber brings the political maneuvering, past and future technologies, and vigorous protagonists together for a cohesive, engrossing whole.” Publishers Weekly, starred review on Off Armageddon Reef
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Out of the Dark
By David Weber, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2010 David Weber
All rights reserved.
"So, fearless hunter, are you ready for your venture into the deepest, darkest wilderness? And did you pack enough pemmican and jerky?" Sharon Dvorak inquired with a sweet smile.
"Was that last question a shot?" her husband responded suspiciously. He turned and cocked an eyebrow in her direction. "It was, wasn't it? It was a shot! Nay, a veritable aspersion — that's what it was!"
"It's sad to see a grown man — theoretically, at least — who's so sensitive about these things." Sharon sighed, shaking her head with infinite sadness.
"Yeah, sure!" Dave Dvorak snorted. "That from the woman who invented the word 'zinger'! I know. You're just being nasty because of that little faux pas the last time we took you hunting."
"Oh?" Sharon widened her eyes innocently at him. "You wouldn't be referring to that failure to bring along sufficient comestibles, would you? The memory failure — on my brother's part, I believe you said — where the food was concerned?"
"It was not a memory failure," Dvorak replied with immense dignity. "We simply regarded it as an opportunity for you to learn to subsist on the bounty of nature in the same fashion as us hardened hunter-gatherers. Nuts and berries, mushrooms instead of toadstools — that sort of thing."
"I could've sworn I heard my beloved spouse bitching and moaning about 'nuts and berries' for that entire trip."
"I'm sure your memory is simply playing you false."
"Oh? Then you aren't the one who said 'I'll trip him and sit on him while you go through his pockets for Slim Jims'?"
"Oh, I suppose the words might have slipped out somehow, since the greedy bastard wasn't willing to share with us. I mean, because of the low blood sugar associated with starvation, of course," Dvorak amended hastily. "Assuming any such episode had ever occurred, which I very much doubt."
"Oh, of course not."
Sharon shook her head and smacked him — gently, for her — across the top of the head. She had to stand on tiptoe to manage it, since he was a full foot taller than her own five feet two, but she'd had plenty of practice over the years.
He grinned down at her and wrapped both arms around her. She was exactly the right height to hug with his chin resting on the crown of her head, and he closed his eyes as he savored the embrace.
"You sure you don't want to come with us?" he asked in a much more serious voice. "Rob and I can still make room. And your tree stand'll fit just fine."
"You two can go out and sit in the woods in the rain if you want. Me, I'm staying home and curling up in front of the TV with that nice box of chocolates someone bestowed upon me — no doubt while in the grip of a guilty conscience."
"It may stop raining, you know," Dvorak pointed out, studiously ignoring the rain pattering on the roof even as he spoke.
"Yeah, and the horse may learn to sing." Sharon shook her head, but she also smiled at him. "Go on. Have fun. I'll even smear on the VapoRub when you come dragging home with pneumonia. But don't expect me to come to your rescue when your loving kids look at you reproachfully across a plate of Bambi stroganoff."
"Hah! As if that silly movie ever slowed any of your carnosaur offspring for a minute. Velociraptors don't care where the meat came from as long as it's fresh, you know."
"Of course they don't. But you know they're not going to pass up the chance to cast their woebegone gazes upon you." Sharon shook her head. "And don't blame me! It's your mother's fault."
Dvorak considered that for a moment, seeking a proper rejoinder. None came to him, so he contented himself with sticking out his tongue and making a rude noise. Then he kissed her cheek quickly, gave her another squeeze, and headed out to the waiting pickup.
* * *
"So did she give you a hard time?"
"I'll have you know," Dave Dvorak told his brother-in-law, Rob Wilson, severely, "that I am the master of my household. My lightest whim is law, my least desire instantly realized by all about me."
"Sure." Wilson rolled his eyes. "You do remember that I've known my sweet little sister for, oh, the better part of forty years?"
"If that's the case, then I think you might want to reconsider the phrase 'the better part of' when it comes in front of that particular number," Dvorak replied.
"I can still take her three falls out of four," Wilson replied, elevating his nose slightly.
"I seem to remember a Thanksgiving dinner when she got hold of your asp and pretty nearly broke your right kneecap," Dvorak said in a reminiscent tone.
"Only because I didn't want to hurt her."
"Yeah, sure." Dvorak looked away from the road for a moment to grin at his brother-in-law. "You sure you weren't afraid she was the one who was going to hurt you?"
"Well, I guess the possibility — the remote possibility, you understand — had crossed my mind," Wilson allowed. Both of them chuckled, and Dvorak returned his attention to the rain-streaked windshield.
The two men got along well. Dvorak, an NRA-certified firearms instructor, ran an indoor shooting range. Wilson, after twenty years in the US Marine Corps, had gone into law enforcement. He'd risen to sergeant with one of the smaller upstate municipalities and served as the force's designated marksmanship instructor before a high-speed car chase and a nasty collision led to a broken leg, significant loss of mobility, and a medical retirement. One of the best pistol shots Dvorak had ever met (he routinely ran the tables in the once-a-week pin-shooting contests at Dvorak's range), he'd moonlighted helping Dvorak out while he was on the force. He'd gotten his own NRA certification back when he was his police force's senior instructor, as well, so it had been logical for him to buy an interest in the business and go to work there full-time. It was a comfortable arrangement, and one which gave both of them the opportunity to expend a great deal of ammunition every week ... and get paid for it. Sharon Dvorak and Veronica Wilson referred to it as "boys and their toys," but neither Dvorak nor Wilson minded that. Anyway, both of the women had been known to outshoot them.
Deer season was one of their favorite times of year, although as he looked out the windshield at the day's weather Dvorak wondered exactly why that was. Of course, it was only five o'clock. There was plenty of time for the weather to get better before dawn, he reminded himself.
At the moment they were on US-276, headed towards the small town of Travelers Rest, with their ultimate destination the Caesars Head / Jones Gap Wildlife Management Area just south of the South Carolina–North Carolina state line. Dvorak's deer season had been disappointing to date — he'd only gotten to use up one of his tags so far — and Wilson had been fairly insufferable about it, since he only had one tag left. Had the ratio been reversed, Dvorak suspected, he would have opted to remain warmly in bed this sodden October morning. Such, alas, was the weakness of his character.
Well, he thought, leaning forward and peering through the upper quadrant of the windshield at the still black heavens, at least if I do fill a tag today, I'll have damn well earned it. He grinned, sitting back again. I can see it now. "Here, woman — hunter brings back food. Go. Cook!" He shook his head. I'd be lucky if she didn't decide to cook me! Assuming, of course, that I wasn't the cook in the first place.
Thunder rumbled overhead, loud enough to be audible even through the hissing sound of tires on rain-soaked asphalt, but he studiously failed to hear it.CHAPTER 2
The attention signal whistled on Fleet Commander Thikair's communicator.
He would remember later how prosaic and ... normal it had sounded, but at that moment, as he looked up from yet another ream of deadly dull paperwork, when he still didn't know, he felt an undeniable sense of relief for the distraction. Then he pressed the acceptance key, and that sense of relief vanished when he recognized his flagship commander's face ... and worried expression.
"What is it, Ahzmer?" he asked, wasting no time on formal greetings.
"Sir, we've just received a preliminary report from the scout ships. And according to the message, they've made a rather ... disturbing discovery," Ship Commander Ahzmer replied.
"Yes?" Thikair's ears cocked inquisitively as Ahzmer paused.
"Sir, they're picking up some fairly sophisticated transmissions."
"Transmissions?" For a moment or two, it didn't really register. But then Thikair's eyes narrowed and his pelt bristled. "How sophisticated?" he demanded much more sharply.
"Very, I'm afraid, Sir," Ahzmer said unhappily. "We're picking up digital and analog with some impressive bandwidth. It's at least Level Three activity, Sir. Possibly even" — Ahzmer's ears flattened — "Level Two."
Thikair's ears went even flatter than the ship commander's, and he felt the tips of his canines creeping into sight. He shouldn't have let his expression give so much away, but he and Ahzmer had known one another for decades, and it was obvious the other's thoughts had already paralleled his own.
The fleet's main body had reemerged into normal-space barely four day-twelfths ago, after eight standard years, subjective, of cryogenic sleep. The flight had lasted some sixteen standard years, by the rest of the galaxy's clocks, since the best velocity modifier even in hyper allowed a speed of no more than five or six times that of light in normal-space terms. The capital ships and transports were still two standard months of normal-space travel short of the objective, sliding in out of the endless dark like huge, sleek hasthar, claws and fangs still hidden, while the medical staffs began the time-consuming task of reviving the thousands of ground personnel who would soon be needed. But the much lighter scout ships' lower tonnages made their drives more efficient in both n-space and h-space, and he'd sent them ahead to take a closer look at their target. Now he found himself wishing he hadn't.
Stop that, he told himself sternly. Your ignorance wouldn't have lasted much longer, anyway. And you'd still have to decide what to do. At least this way you have some time to start thinking about it!
His mind began to work again, and he sat back, one six-fingered hand reaching down to groom his tail while he thought.
The problem was that the Hegemony Council's authorization for this operation was based on the survey team's report that the objective's intelligent species — "humans," they called themselves — had achieved only a Level Six civilization. The other two systems on Thikair's list were both classified as Level Five civilizations, although one had crept close to the boundary between Level Five and Level Four. It had been hard to get the Council to sign off on those two. Indeed, the need to argue the Shongairi's case so strenuously before the Council was the reason the mission had been delayed long enough to telescope into a three-system operation.
But a Level Six culture was primitive enough for its "colonization" to be authorized almost as an afterthought, the sort of mission any of the Hegemony's members might have mounted. And in this particular case, authorization had been even prompter than usual. Indeed, Thikair knew some of the Council's omnivores — even some of its herbivores — had actually given their approval where KU-197-20 was concerned with hidden satisfaction. The visual and audio recordings the original survey team had brought back had horrified the vast majority of the Hegemony's member species. Even after making all due allowance for the humans' primitivism, most of the Hegemony had been none too secretly revolted by the bloodthirstiness those recordings had demonstrated.
Thikair's species wasn't revolted, which was one of the reasons those hypocrites on the Council had taken such ill-concealed satisfaction in turning KU-197-20 over to the Shongairi. Despite that, they'd never agreed to the conquest of a Level Three civilization, far less a Level Two! In fact, anything which had attained Level Two automatically came under protectorate status until it attained Level One and became eligible for Hegemony membership in its own right or (as a significant percentage of them managed) destroyed itself first.
Cowards, Thikair thought resentfully. Dirt-grubbers. Weed-eaters!
The epithets his species routinely applied to the Hegemony's herbivorous member races carried bottomless contempt, which was fair enough, since that emotion was fully reciprocated. The Shongairi were the only carnivorous species to have attained hyper-capability. Indeed, before them, the prevailing theory among the various Hegemony members' xenoanthropologists had been that no carnivorous species ever would attain it, given their natural propensity for violence. Over forty percent of the Hegemony's other member races were herbivores, who regarded the Shongairi's dietary habits as barbarous, revolting, even horrendous. And even most of the Hegemony's omnivores were ... uncomfortable around Thikair's people.
Their own precious Constitution had forced them to admit the Shongairi when the Empire reached the stars, but the Shongairi were still the Hegemony's newest members, and the other species had never been happy about their presence among them. In fact, Thikair had read several learned monographs arguing that pre-Shongairi xenoanthropological theory had been correct; carnivores were too innately self-destructive to develop advanced civilizations. His people's existence (whether they could truly be called "civilized" or not) was simply the exception which proved the rule — one of those incredible flukes that (unfortunately, in the obvious opinion of the authors of those monographs) had to happen occasionally. What they ought to have done, if they'd had the common decency to follow the example of other species with similarly violent, psychopathically aggressive dispositions, was blow themselves back into the Stone Age as soon as they discovered atomic fission.
Unhappily for those racist bigots, Thikair's people hadn't. Which didn't prevent the Council from regarding them with scant favor. Or from attempting to deny them their legitimate prerogatives.
It's not as if we were the only species to seek colonies. There's the Shentai and the Kreptu, just for starters. And what about the Liatu? They're herbivores, but they've got over fifty colony systems!
Thikair made himself stop grooming his tail and inhaled deeply. Dredging up old resentments wouldn't solve this problem, and if he were going to be completely fair (which he didn't really want to be, especially in the Liatu's case), the fact that some of those other races had been roaming the galaxy for the better part of seventy-four thousand standard years as compared to the Shongairi's nine hundred might help to explain at least some of the imbalance.
Besides, that imbalance is going to change, he reminded himself grimly.
There was a reason the Empire had established no less than eleven colonies even before Thikair's fleet had departed on its current mission, and why the Shongairi's Council representatives had adamantly defended their right to establish those colonies even under the Hegemony's ridiculous restrictions.
No one could deny any race the colonization of any planet with no native sapient species, but most species — the Barthoni came to mind — had deep-seated cultural prejudices against colonizing any world which was already inhabited. Unfortunately, there weren't all that many habitable worlds, and they tended to be located bothersomely far apart, even for hyper-capable civilizations. Worse, a depressing number of them already had native sapients living on them. Under the Hegemony Constitution, colonizing those worlds required Council approval, which wasn't as easy to come by as it would have been in a more reasonable universe.
Thikair was well aware that many of the Hegemony's other member species believed the Shongairi's "perverted" warlike nature (and even more "perverted" honor codes) explained their readiness to expand through conquest. And to be honest, they had a point, because no Shongair ever born could resist the seduction of the hunt. But the real reason, which was never discussed outside the Empire's inner councils, was that an existing infrastructure, however crude, made the development of a colony faster and easier. And even more importantly, the ... acquisition of less advanced but trainable species provided useful increases in the Empire's labor force. A labor force which — thanks to the Constitution's namby-pamby emphasis on members' internal autonomy — could be kept properly in its place on any planet belonging to the Empire.
And a labor force which was building the sinews of war the Empire would require on the day it told the rest of the Hegemony what it could do with all of its demeaning restrictions.
Excerpted from Out of the Dark by David Weber, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2010 David Weber. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
DAVID WEBER is the author of The New York Times bestselling Honor Harrington novels. Solo or in collaboration, he is one of the major writers of science fiction in America today.
Charles Keating has won multiple AudioFile Earphones awards for his audiobook narrations. His credits include works by P.D. James, Mark Haddon, Charmian Hussey, and Terry Brooks. He is British actor of stage, screen and television in addition to being an audiobook narrator. He has acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, played Rex in ITV’s celebrated Brideshead Revisited miniseries, and had roles in television shows including Sex and the City, Another World, All My Children and As the World Turns. In 2001, he played the role of Carney/Oscar Wilde in the Lincoln Center Theater Performance of A Man of No Importance, and in 2007, he played the role of Clement O'Donnell in the Guthrie Theater production of The Home Place.
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I was rather excited about this book if for no other reason than it was stand-alone rather than yet another lengthy series. The first 7/8ths were typical Weber. Cutting between a number of characters, lots of military hardware detail, etc. Nothing we haven't seen from him before, but well done. (One bit of advice the author & the typesetter--if you're going to switch view points every paragraph or two for several pages, the heavy all-caps used to start each section gets distracting. Go third omniscient or reduce the typographical excess.) But the more it went on, the more I realized it was going to have to pull out a very sudden ending--there simply wasn't space left for anything else. Since I didn't read the whole book description ahead of time, I was honestly surprised by the vampire angle. And that's the biggest problem. If there was any foreshadowing of anything supernatural, I missed it. My reaction was: "Vampires? Really, Mr Weber? You too? Really?" He could have swapped in fairies or elves and barely changed anything. Could have been worse, I guess. Could have been zombies. Or that might have been better. Long review short: War of Worlds, but super-vampires instead of microbes for the deus ex machina. That is all.
Let me start out saying that I enjoy reading *most* of David Weber's material; especially in collaboration with Eric Flint, but this entire novel just felt off. Character development was rushed, and the plot just seemed weak. Throwing in the "twist" in the last bit of the book was horrible. No real development of the aliens outside of comparing them to dogs and illustrating the stagnant monopoly of their "hegemony", no real hint of what was going on etc., If this was marketed as a comedy I might have been less disappointed, but as it goes I'm inclined to believe what one of the other reviewers stated, that this was an old half finished manuscript that someone tried to make a buck on by tossing in the current hot topic. I expect better Mr. agent/publisher/author. You owe me my wasted time and effort that went into reading this; as well as my crushed expectations of "it must get better soon. . ." The only saving grace is that it's an eBook, so I don't have the guilt of a plant dying for it. I may check the second book in the trilogy just see if it finally does get better, but it'll be standing infront of the new fiction section at B&N or the sample for the nook.
If this book had been about 125-150 pages, it would have been an awesome story. But weighing in at 400 pages, it was a disaster. The story hook was so late in coming (in the last 50 pages), that it completely missed the mark. On prime display were Weber's politics, which did nothing for the story but tint it as a redneck revenge fantasy. Combine that with flaws in the story and logic (seriously, how can you go on for whole sections about cyberwar and never mention either Seattle or Silicon Valley???). Also on display was Weber's encyclopedic knowledge of all things military. Unfortuneately, in an attempt to bulk out the page count, came off like reading the encyclopedia. I had to force myself to slog through to the end. Very, very disappointing.
Let me first say that I have always been a big fan of David Weber since I first read On Basilisk Station about fifteen years ago. However, this is quite simply the dumbest book he has ever written. All I can think is that someone from Tor told him he had to write something about vampires for thats the only way this should ever have been written. The plot is undeveloped, the characters are caricatures and the enemy is too studid to have made to earth in the first place. Mr Weber your fans expect better!
I picked up this book and based the flap thought this could be a good read. Fooled again!! Endless diaglogue with little substance, boring, not a page turner in the least. Premise seemed interesting, and ending was a pathetic attempt to salvage a worthless waste of paper. If you go to a restuarant and get a bad meal you can send it back, I can't send this one back so this is my answer. I know vampires are the rage, fantasy reigns supreme when imagination fails the writer, but to waste all the time spend reading this melange, shows the pathetic nature of the writer who cannot come up with a realistic ending. Send this back to the kitchen, and put in the disposal. BAD!! with a capital "B".
This book makes little to no sense. The beginning and middle are strong, excellent descriptions of events and character's that the reader can bond with. Then Mr. Weber throws in freaking vampires and spoils the ending. Come on, the only thing worse would have been for one of the main characters to wake up and realise the whole thing was a dream. But ending aside, it is worth reading just for the beginning and middle sections.
I would have to say that i am a big david weber fan. I started with the Honor Harrington books and went on to the safehold series and i loved ever single one of them. Thats why i bought this book. I knew it would be a great read. That is until i got to the end, like many other reviewers have said it seems like the author just gave up. To be perfectly honest it seems like david weber wrote 95% of the book and some teen vampire novelist slapped a quick ending on the end. Do yourself a big favor and read any david weber book, just not this one.
I should have read the reviews more carefully. It seemed like he got stuck in the plot and just slaped a poorly developed pop culture plot device to "resolve" the end. Not only was I disgusted with the way he fimished the book, I was disappponted that the plot was unfinished.
Having learned of the existence of hostile humans, The Galactic Hegemony Empire is coming to conquer and colonize Earth. An advanced scouting team witnessed the massacre at Agincourt when King Henry V and his English Army used the longbow to slaughter the French. The Hegemony scout leadership concludes the bloody barbarians are a bunch of "lunatic local sentients". Earthlings are so bellicose they make the bloody Shongairi warriors look docile and thus deserve extinction. The Hegemony sends their Shongairi warriors to conquer Earth. The military invaders are stunned by the resistance to their assaults. Even more shocking to those who have defeated forces throughout the galaxy is something out of horror novels rises from the grave to unite with the native humans in a counter insurgency. Faster than the speed of light or an Honor Harrington military science fiction, Out of the Dark is an action-packed thriller that fans of David Weber will enjoy. Over the top of Olympus Mons and with a resistance theme that has been used in many books and movies (for instance, The Puppet Masters), the novel is refreshed with an element from the horror genre. Mr. Weber provides an entertaining tale that requires seat belts with the speed of acceleration from start to finish. Harriet Klausner
Fast paced with a great story line
Started out great, ran out of steam, and resorted to a halfway-hinted-at, yet almost totally unexpected, unrealistic solution... Switching genres in the middle of the stream??? Ehhh...
Your people know nothing about predators, but they will. I’ve been a fan of David Weber’s since I started reading the Safehold series, so I was excited to read a book by him in a different universe (Fans of Safehold: keep your eyes peeled for the names of the two dogs as a tribute to those books). This book wins the award for having the most crazy-bonkers plot twist of all time, which I absolutely LOVED. I don’t know if this book is the beginning of a new series or not but I would be interested to see where this story could go after that. I also like how Weber told this story from both human and alien perspectives concurrently. If you like a story to surprise you, this is a good one.
Starts out serious, then mutates into so-bad-its-good genre. Like Rocky Horror with aliens.
The book started out nicely but rest assure the ending will almost certainly dissapoint.
I am a fairly avid fan of David Weber, at least in his Honor Harrington books but not so much his Safehold series. So when I was offered this selection, I grabbed at the chance to read yet another volume from a writer I consider to be the modern master of the time-honored "space opera" genre, though from the promo I read for this book I wasn't really expecting a space opera. I was expecting something interesting, though, something worth reading. Alas, my expectations weren't even partially realized. The story line is nothing like the promo led me to believe it would be. In fact, the story line is weak beyond anything I would have believed could come from the mind of a tale-spinning master like David Weber. Without giving away any of the plot to spoil things for other readers with tastes that differ from my own, I'll ask just one question: Why Dracula? I would have thought that Mr. Weber had enough of an imagination to create his own characters (his hundreds of named characters in each of his Honor Harrington books are ample proof of said ability, or so I imagined) without borrowing from classical fiction literature. To be fair to Mr. Weber, I plodded through all 400+ pages of this tome, hoping to find a justification for my time. I shouldn't have bothered. I understand that this was meant to be the opening salvo for yet another continuing saga by Mr. Weber. If such is the case, I will most definitely not be reading future instalments.
th ending was lame! Come on vampires? You can have done much better Mr Webber. Yuo would much better off working on the Honorverse series.