The Dark Space inside each of us

Filed in Science Fiction by on March 16, 2013 3 Comments

Dark Space - Sentients of Orion Book 1

An examination of God. A look at what makes us human. A young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk (well, maybe not that last one). Welcome to Dark Space, by Marianne de Pierres.

While it may not be Rochelle Rochelle, Dark Space is a journey of a different kind – one through human nature and of self discovery. This is the first of the four book series Sentients of Orion, in which author De Pierres throws a cast of humans into a whirling maelstrom of alien cultures, inscrutable godlike beings and galaxy-wide war. The book deals not only with their struggle to survive, but their growing awareness that they aren’t fully in control of their own destinies.

Despite my breathless introduction, Dark Space is actually a very well paced novel. It doesn’t dawdle (unlike some series I could mention), yet conversely isn’t one of those books which throws a new disaster, calamity or catastrophe at you every time you turn the page.


Dark Space features two main story arcs which intertwine throughout the book, splitting and diverging until they finally meet again at the end of the four book story-arc. The novel focuses largely on its characters as the agents of change to drive plot and story, and de Pierres’ characterisation and mix of personalities is a delight.

For example:

  • Jo Jo Rastovich, an hard-bitten miner, finds ‘God’ while prospecting in a secluded area of space. In this case, God is real – an alien being such power and potential to all intents and purposes it is omnipotent. Jojo dies and is then revived during the encounter, emerging a changed man – changed by God itself.  While ostensibly cynically non-religious, he remains the only being in the universe who can say he has spoken to God

  • Baronessa Mira is a sheltered aristocrat, who conversely believes both in religion and in the better side of human nature. She has the ability to pilot/communicate with self-aware organic ships, or ‘biozoons’. However in her family only men are permitted to have this ability , so she escapes when threatened with a medical procedure which will violently strip it from her. When her world comes under attack from a terrifying alien force, she is cast aside and left to fend for herself in a hostile universe, losing her faith in society and human nature in the process.

  • Trin becomes the head of his aristocratic dynasty. While he doesn’t want to face up to responsibilities, he is also troubled by his aversion to human females and his ‘predilection’ for aliens.

  • Tekton is an ‘arch-Tect’, a genius-level intellect who loves to win by any means possible – and is not below cheating or manipulation. Tekton is obsessed with sex, is very jealous, and craves power in any form.

De Pierres has written a beautiful, touching story. This is one of those novels which doesn’t spoon feed you – it throws you straight into the action, so be prepared to hit the ground running. However I found the lack of ‘hand-holding’ very refreshing. Don’t feel that you can’t go back and read bits again – I most certainly did.


Dark space in the human heart

Dark Space is a story of dichotomies. A man finds himself, a woman loses herself. While many of the human characters are awful, unfeeling beings, it is aliens who often show the most compassion, the most humanity. Humans destroy each other and befriend alien species in the same chapter, using self-interest as their only moral compass.

De Pierres’ choice of Dark Space as the novel’s name is interesting, as it’s never clear which particular ‘Dark Space’ is being referred to. Is it about the dark space in the human heart? Is it that the ‘dark space’ is where our salvation lies? Perhaps the title refers to the God-like aliens which dwell in dark space, and which seem to have a Machiavellian hand in everything.

Another way of looking at de Pierres’ book is that it asks the question ’Where do we belong?’ JoJo is a homeless drifter, while much of Dark Space is based on a hot mining planet called Belle Monde.

“Belle Monde was named in the inimitable vein of sarcasm that marked the humanesque species apart from others. Far from being a beautiful world,it resembled a corroded iron ball.” (Page 19)

Even if they do not acknowledge it, the main characters Mira and Trin do not belong on their home planet. Belle Monde is a harsh world, too hot for humans to survive for long without staying indoors or wearing expensive shielding outfits. Instead of adapting to their home most characters ignore the issue and hide behind technology, isolating themselves and losing touch with their humanity, their abilities and their limits.

Dark Space - Sentients of Orion Book 1Dark Space asks us a fundamental question – do we require adversity and conflict as a necessary ingredient of survival? You get the feeling that de Pierres actually regards the humans as the true ‘aliens’. She definitely offers her non-human characters a more sympathetic treatment in the plot, and they in turn display the most humanity and consideration for other characters.

With this series, de Pierres has constructed a living, breathing culture that sweats, stinks, hurts and bruises, displaying many contradictions and prejudices. It’s wonderful – this isn’t your daddy’s squeaky clean Star Trek – things get dirty. She has obviously put a lot of thought into every aspect of the Dark Space universe, and it gives the book a delicious flavour.

One example is the mysterious communiqués issued regularly by Sole, one of the ‘God’ aliens.


yearn/seek seek amid/among light b’long farway

look’m secrets <luscious luscious>

cross’m void

find/amid amid liquid swirl halo dust

little creatures/ many many

how’m function?” (Sole)


On another note, I loved some of the ‘everyday’ technology in the Dark Space universe, such as:

  • the ‘moud’, (a portable virtual assistant that obeys simple spoken instructions… think a Siri that actually works…)
  • health insurance that actually protects you from being hurt/getting sick rather than just paying to fix you
  • organic self-aware ships that will only carry you once you have signed a contract with them

People definitely aren’t the centre of the Dark Space universe. While many of the main characters call the more exotic aliens the racist term ‘ginkos’, they also call themselves ‘humanesques’ instead of human. It’s a nice touch – I get the feeling that this is a symptom of the human characters having lost a sense of who they are, and it reflects a more general feeling of ‘disconnectedness’ which permeates the whole book.

And while humans are deeply embedded into this alien culture, they still display an abundance of fear, xenophobia, racism and sexism. It’s a depressing reminder that no matter how far we may spread across the stars, we may never escape the Dark Space at the centre of us all.

Note: I met Marianne briefly when she was signing books at Supanova one year – she was a lovely lady. As a fellow Australian I am pleased to present her as proof that Australia isn’t just football, meat pies, kangaroos and more football. We also have shrimps, BBQs and Paul Hogan.


PS: Check out Marianne’s wonderful feedback about this review!

Marianne de Pierres
Dark Space: Book 1 of the Sentients of Orion

Dark Space: Book 1 of the Sentients of Orion

An examination of God. A look at what makes us human. A young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk (well, maybe not that last one). Welcome to Dark Space, by Marianne de Pierres.

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About the Author ()

Nick Buchan is currently writing his first novel ‘Leopard Tree’, available 2015. “A burnt-out police detective becomes embroiled in a child murder investigation while on African safari. Will this case send Detective Duffy over the edge?” Follow ‘Leopard Tree’ online at or

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  1. The Dark Space inside each of us | Sentients of Orion | March 18, 2013
  1. Great review Nick, and wonderful story! It requires a bit of brilliance to tell the story the way you did and I applaud you for tapping into the hearts and souls of those who read this intriguing novel!

  2. maillot de foot pas cher says:

    I really enjoy the blog.Much thanks again. Great.

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