Some Desperate Glory
By Emily Tesh
- Some Desperate Glory
Author: Emily Tesh
- ISBN: 9780356517179
- Published: April 2023
- Pages: 448
- Format reviewed:
- Review date: 03/04/2023
- Language: English
Stories are often told from the side of good, the plucky underdog who fights against the armies of evil only to be victorious, but what about a book told from the side of the agitators, the terrorists the anarchists? These are all labels and Emily Tesh sets out to prove in Some Desperate Glory that whilst we may consider someone evil, they may consider themselves a hero. It is all a matter of perception and a little time travel.
Kyr lives in one of the last pockets of human civilisation after Earth was destroyed by a collective of alien races controlled by a benevolent entity who deemed our race too warlike and dangerous. Gaea Station has not stopped fighting the war and breeds its children to be warriors. Kyr’s life work is to reclaim the role of humans in the universe, but all the other colonies are now part of the collective. Is Gaia Station the outlier, are they in the wrong? Kyr’s first mission will reshape the universe, but at what cost. If you could go back and correct a mistake would you do it, or would you just make it worse?
Glory combines two of my favourite science fiction concepts; military space opera and time travel. Both are tricky to pull off. The space opera can be unwieldy and stretch over thousands of pages and time travel is often written in a confusing way. Tesh avoids these pitfalls by keeping things simple. One main character in Kyr means that we can concentrate on her story. This is perfect for the time travel/parallel universe elements of the book as you only need to follow one person. We do meet other versions of Kyr’s family and friends, but it is her story.
With a controlled time travel element, Tesh is free to develop the idea of Gaea Station and how it descended into its form of fascism. You can tell from Kyr’s early attitude that not all is right on the station, and in the coming pages you start to see how rotten the core is. As Kyr is only just coming of age, the reader gets to see her develop and realise that her attitude has been formed by how she was taught. She begins to see that there is another way of seeing life in the universe and that humans may not have been in the right.
Tesh does not fall into the trap of making everyone on Gaea evil, they were brought up in the same regime as Kyr and had little choice. The alternative timelines suggest that the characters could have been much happier. However, some of them always appear to be evil no matter what happens. Eventually, the story leads towards a high stakes' final showdown. With no more chances the final act of the book is thrilling.
With so many high concepts within Glory I am impressed how Tesh was able to balance them all and write a book that makes perfect sense. Time travel, future fascism, a vast alien race, the destruction of humans – all are covered and have a natural place in the story. Tesh never forgets to write a heart pumping story to run through all the different worlds and concepts. In the end it becomes a very readable book that would appeal to fans of character development and action.
Written on 3rd April 2023 by Sam Tyler .