Debatable Space by Philip Palmer

The first novel that I have read on my Kindle is Debatable Space, a sci-fi novel by Philip Palmer. I found the book to be hard reading but I think by the end of it I figured out why I didn’t really like it:

  1. Character development; there was actually heaps of character development in this book, so I can’t fault it. What I didn’t like is that having developed the characters to a point, the author just went on developing them some more, and then some more. I didn’t really get the feeling that I “got to know the characters” because I kept getting side swiped by a new revelation. Half the fun of reading a story is getting to know the character and being able to predict how they are going to react at a macro level.
  2. Narrative style; whilst a lot of the book was written by a subjective point of view I never really felt like I was in the room. I think this could be due to the character development as well – maybe I am such a poor reader that I like to have clearly defined heros.
  3. Adult themes; a certain amount of explicit material is expected in the sci-fi genre. It just seems to go with the territory but this book seemed to take it to the extreme and it didn’t really seem to add much value.
  4. Lack of exploration; one of the things I love about the sci-fi genre is how authors introduce and expand upon bleeding edge concepts such as relativity, nanotechnology, alien life forms etc. This book had those elements present but I would have loved to see more exploration of these topics rather than leaving them as just props.

Despite what might seem like a negative review, I’d love to see the author write another book in the universe that he has created and address some of the issues above, perhaps with a smaller time-scale. I thought the DR robots were an interesting concept, especially the aspects of their remote operation.

2 thoughts on “Debatable Space by Philip Palmer

  1. Scott Baldwin

    Hey Mitch, did you ever get around to reading the book I recommended a couple of years back, “Altered Carbon” – Richard Morgan? http://www.amazon.com/Altered-Carbon-Takeshi-Kovacs-Novels/dp/0345457692/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261697800&sr=8-1

    My first kindle read was the second in the series, “Broken Angels”, http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Angels-Richard-K-Morgan/dp/0345457714/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261697800&sr=8-3 I’ll do a review on it on my blog soon, but I think you would really like it.

  2. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Scott,

    I did get around to reading Altered Carbon – or more precisely I started it. Unfortunately I lost the book in my travels but thanks for reminding me. I just pulled it down onto the Kindle and found where I was up to. Kinda lucky I was inbetween books.

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