By Gareth Worthington
- Dark Dweller
Author: Gareth Worthington
Publisher: Dropship Publishing
- ISBN: 9781954386068
- Published: November 2022
- Pages: 293
- Format reviewed:
- Review date: 28/02/2023
- Language: English
The problem with being zipped away by some alien entity and then shown how the Universe works is that no one will believe you on your return. Imagine your friend returning from their lunch break to say that they have just been told that the world is going to end in two days unless we all follow their orders. The only orders you will be following will from the physiatrist on the phone telling you how to talk your pal down. Space is the same. It may be majestic but try and tell a hard-working crew that the space is about to implode, and they will ignore you at best, lock you up at worst. Gareth Worthington’s Dark Dweller is a tale about when a spaceship crew does not listen to the warnings of the strange visitor they find floating in space.
The future Earth is low on resources and the best source of helium is found in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Crews are sent out in relay to harvest the precious commodity. The Paralus is up and rather than finding Helium, they discover an abandoned escape pod from over 100 years before. Inside is teenager claiming to be Captain Kara Psomas. She has a message; in the coming days, a choice will need to be made that will save humankind or damn it to extinction. Will the crew believe this child or do some of them have their own agenda?
I love the diversity of science fiction as a genre. Dweller feels like the type of sci fi that the uninformed would consider typical of the genre – a book set in space that deals with complex thinking. Hard science fiction is certainly not the only flavour of the genre available, but it is always nice to occasionally pick up a book with meaty ideas. Dweller certainly asks many of the big questions, the very concept of existence is discussed. Lovers of theoretical science will adore the sections that sees Captain Psomas arrive on the Paralus.
There are elements of brain stretching discussion in the book, but Worthington does a good job of making them understandable and breaking up the theory with action. Some of the ideas within Dweller may feel highbrow, but the crew are very real feeling. The four crew on the ship and others we meet later are all flawed specialists. The book evokes the creaking ships of the Alien series, and the crew members are just managing to be civil to one another.
The story is told from the perspective of several characters and as events unfold you begin to realise that their agendas are vastly different. By the second half of the book Worthington creates a great balancing act between epic scenes and human folly. Outside there are anomalies, the potential discovery of alien life, worm holes and more. Inside the crew are adding to the chaos. Worthington captures the sense of the best laid plans falling apart fast. The thrilling elements of the book are when the crew are trying their hardest to survive and not always succeeding.
Dark Dweller is that rare beast of hard sci fi that can pull of high-end concepts, but also entertain the reader with tension and strong set pieces. It is a good marriage of action and intelligence providing both types of fan something to enjoy. Better yet, for those of us that like all types of genre fiction, we get to read a story that makes us think whilst also making us grit our teeth. Will anyone survive the Dark Dweller?
Written on 28th February 2023 by Sam Tyler .