book review, horror, Joseph Sale

Joseph Sale Month: The Meaning of the Dark

Stars! Lost in space gets a new meaning in this gripping science fiction horror. 

Many years in the future, humanity has been driven from an uninhabitable Earth and travels through space on a colony ship called New Babylon. 

Adam is one of the elite pilots that search space for a new planet to colonize. 

After a freak accident, Adam gets separated from the other pilots, and is lost in space with only his vessel’s computer for company. 

With Adam’s life hanging by such a precarious thread, is there hope for him or the human race?

This is an ambitious novel. Adam is alone for the entire book, with only the ship’s artificial intelligence to talk to. The author has made a deliberate stylistic choice not to differentiate speech from description, and at times it is puzzling who is talking. 

When I started this novel, I was reminded of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Anyone who has read the original tale will know that the Monster narrates his first conscious moments with beautiful, poetic language, which is at odds with the dumb, new born experiences he is describing. 

Likewise, Sale sets out each chapter as Adam’s logs, yet they are so erudite and descriptive, I initially found myself distanced from the character. His frightening situation in space seemed at odds with the beautiful way in which he was explaining things that must have been so familiar to him that they didn’t need explaining. 

However, once Adam started to discover what’s hanging around in the dark between the stars, I was engrossed by the author’s exciting, imaginative description of space. Before I knew it, the story had morphed into a thrilling, emotional reflection on life and the human spirit. Filled with Sale’s characteristic depth, there are lots of hints at how this novel fits into the author’s connected universe. 

I award The Meaning of the Dark

This review was originally posted on 10th October 2020.


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6 thoughts on “Joseph Sale Month: The Meaning of the Dark”

  1. When this first came out, it was probably my favourite Joseph Sale novel, with the possible exception of Darkest Touch. It was superbly imagined and described – hypnotic the way the narrative drives you forward. Of course, since its publication Joseph has produced a couple more masterpieces on even grander scale; but the touches of the ‘master’ are writ large over all this.

    Liked by 1 person

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