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The Sentients of Orion, Book 4
Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack
Transformation Space is the fourth in a series, following Dark Space, Chaos Space and Mirror Space. De Pierres has created a complex and layered world, and as such some elements will be a little difficult for new readers to follow. However, I’ve read only the first of the series and was able to follow a substantial part of the plot without trouble; this suggests that the setting and worldbuilding may be the biggest challenge for new readers to get their heads around.
Despite the gaps in my knowledge of the plot, overall this novel – and probably the series – is rewarding. The world is convincing and interesting; the plot complex but easy to follow; and the bulk of the characters are interesting (although not all of them are sympathetic). It is not clear whether this is the final in the series; it could be read that way, but there are enough slightly loose ends that I would not be surprised if there was one more volume to follow.
Sentients of Orion, book 1
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely (this review was originally published in 2007)
Reading a Marianne de Pierres novel is almost like immersing yourself in a brilliantly detailed film – you find yourself engrossed in not only the plot and characterisation, but in the highly visual nature of the story. It is very easy to believe in the far distant (temporally and spatially) locale delineated in Dark Space because de Pierres embeds the physical surroundings so integrally to the plot that you find the world she has created is drawn implicitly for you, without being intrusive to the movement of the story.
In Dark Space, de Pierres has created a universe in a far distant future, where humans (or ‘esques) have migrated into the solar systems to planets that may be bought and sold by single families. In this case, most of the story is set on Araldis, a world owned by an aristocracy from a vaguely Italian background which purchased a world for its mining bounty. It otherwise has little to recommend it. Other than the upper class aristocracy, there are also the nobile – brought as servants but having some status – ordinary miners, and a variety of aliens inhabiting Araldis. The highest of the aristocracy, the Principe, is drawn as corrupt and uncaring of the lower classes, raising a self-centred, egocentric son with all his flaws, and no opportunity to experience life in order to grow or change. Trinder Pellegrini demonstrates some of the very worst of aristocratic dismissal of anyone of a lower class than he, even going along with his father’s plan to strip Mira Fedor – one of only a very few of her family in 200 years born with the genetic talent to fly the biozoon ship Insignia, and the only female – of her birthright. When Mira discovers this, she flees, and so becomes embroiled in the plots against the Pellegrini Principe and the aristocracy in general, quite by accident. Don’t be fooled though. This story is not the story of Mira Fedor and her fight to keep her birthright. That thread, while important to this book, and possibly more so in later instalments of the series, is not central to the story. Rather, the novel is about class, race, gender and cultural divides, woven deftly into an action packed plot on a distant world. Read the rest of this entry »
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
Marianne de Pierres is one of Australia’s most prominent science fiction authors. Under a pen name, she has also published acclaimed crime novels, and her most recent book (as de Pierres) is a YA dystopian novel that is receiving rave reviews. She has had games and songs inspired by her books and worked with other creators to build interactive content. She has created a unique online brand with multiple websites, with an online persona as active and interesting as the author in real life. So it’s no surprise that de Pierres is pushing her boundaries once again, seeking to expand her readership in new ways with Peacemaker, a web comic based on de Pierres’ own Virgin Jackson world (so far only seen in short story form).
The first issue of Peacemaker introduces us to Virgin Jackson, a ranger in a futuristic national park enclosed in an Australian super city, the US Marshall Nate Sixkiller, come to investigate her or the park (we aren’t really sure), and the beginnings of a strange, supernatural storyline.
While the story itself is perhaps a little hard to assess in such a very short first issue (although having read in Virgin’s world before, I guarantee quality plot and characters as the comic progresses!), I could unequivocally recommend this issue on the strength of the artwork alone – Sutherland has produced high quality pictures that tell as much as the dialogue, bringing Virgin to life.
In this new venture, de Pierres has created something special, with a heroine that is already shaping up to be not just tough, but interesting on many levels. I look forward to following Virgin’s adventures in future issues.
Book 4, The Sentients of Orion
Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce
I have been waiting for this book for a long time, not least because I had thought it was a trilogy, rather than a quadrilogy. Here, we finally get a conclusion to the intricate plots that de Pierres has been developing and tangling over the series: Mira Fedor and her pregnancy, Trin and his semi-willing followers on Araldis, Tekton and his bizarre free-mind/logic-mind … and my favourite, Jo-Jo Rasterovich, the deep-space miner irrevocably changed by his encounter with the entity, Sole, who – it becomes increasingly clear – has something to do with everything that’s going on.
In terms of plot, there is little that is absolutely new in Transformation Space. It’s a book of climaxes, of revelations, of explanations and conclusions. That’s how it should be, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s boring. As with the preceding three books, de Pierres writes a relentless action story, with few breathing spaces for the characters or the reader. This is unsurprising, given that Mirror Space concluded with the revelation that a Post-Species fleet was moving into Orion space, and the suggestion that this was somehow connected to the invasion of the planet Araldis.
The use of multiple strands of narrative, used to such great effect in the previous books, is continued here; and even when the narrative swings over to Trin and his followers, forced to hide away and spend all their energy hiding and foraging, it’s not exactly relaxing, as tempers run high and eventually boil over. Other strands are more event-based. A new strand is introduced, that of Balbao, in charge of the installation commissioned to examine Sole; things go radically wrong, leading to them eventually teaming up with Lasper Farr. (Anyone familiar with the preceding books will know that such a match is bound to end badly, or at least chaotically.) Even Mira gets a fairly action-oriented story, as she gives birth and then must decide what she and the biozoon Insignia are going to do about the Post-Species fleet and Mira’s own planet. While occasionally in the other books it was sometimes disorienting to switch rapidly between characters and places, I was fairly comfortable with it by this stage. Plus, there was more convergence than ever, with various characters finally coming together or with storylines coming to a natural conclusion.