In the aftermath of the Second American Civil War, a feisty, determined genius develops a new way to explore outer space making himself and those he cares about the central target in an interplanetary war in this first-of-a-series Space Opera, Darklight 1: The Substance of Shadows by John Wells.
Isaac “Crash” Tyson gets his nickname from refusing to give up. When faced with any problem, he just crashes on until whatever is in his way is resolved. A mathematics genius, Crash developed a new field of math, one that will open up space in such a way that earth explorers can take to the stars without any of the usual limitations. He only has to convince P-Quan, the Planetary Governor of Earth and his colleagues at the World Science Council to fund the project. They are all part of the PLAG (Planetary Government) a group of bureaucrats as crooked as they are ruthless.
Surprisingly, P-Quan goes along with Crash’s proposal; in fact, he’s had his eyes on Crash for some time. He plans to acquire all of Crash’s test data and develop the technology for the exclusive use of the PLAG. Of course, if Crash has a problem with this, P-Quan has the power and the position to crush Crash, permanently.
Crash is a genius all right, one who’s smart enough to be suspicious of P-Quan’s motivations. He takes on three assistants: the beautiful Lynn, in charge of operations, Nessi, the tech guy, and a hard-boiled policeman, DP, who is even more suspicious than his boss, and utterly loyal. After receiving the funding necessary, Crash gets busy and constructs the Spatial Exclusion Wave Generator (SEG) in a short time.
The first test of the SEG successfully canceled the spatial field’s interaction with matter and energy. To put it in layman’s terms, the SEG created a Space Hole, an enormous glass-covered hole. So formidable is its power that Nessi pronounces that Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, has been set loose. The good news: SEG works, creating the space hole Crash predicted. The bad news: before Crash can do anything more, PLAG rushes in for the kill.
And in a distant galactic outpost, the drama on Earth is being monitored by the Cren Empire who have their own reasons for destroying Crash’s mission.
The Substance of Shadows is a classic sci-fi of Operatic proportions, positing futuristic technologies, armaments, deep thought, and hidden dimensions. It links a home planet under threat to a small intrepid group of rebels who dare to go beyond known limits, and in doing so, realize that the universe is far more complex and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
At the offset, Wells paints a compelling, if bleak, scenario of a Second American Civil War predicated on some current political ideologies. The newly divided country will soon need what Crash can supply in the form of energy resources. In Crash, Wells offers an empathic leader for the Earthlings and other interstellar beings who will need guidance after the dust settles.
Our review of Darksight II: Conflagaration can be read and enjoyed here.