Friday 29 June 2012

The Scotsman Abroad | Weird Spaces, Familiar Faces

Another week, another edition of The Scotsman Abroad.

I really do get about these days, don't I? :)

Today, anyway, I'm here to tell you all about The Devil's Nebula by Eric Brown — the inaugural installment of Abaddon Books' latest shared world, Weird Space.

And... it's basically okay. Fun, vehemently, but eminently forgettable.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic about The Devil's Nebula - my friend and fellow Eric Brown admirer Mark Chitty certainly seemed to enjoy it, and to a certain extent, I did too - but in the end, I was left feeling largely underwhelmed.

Anyway, my full review went live over at late last week. Here's a snippet from it:
Riding high on the contrails of The Kings of Eternity, perhaps his most excellent effort to date, as well as his least conventional, Eric Brown returns to known space in The Devil’s Nebula, to revisit some familiar faces. Ahoy there, evil aliens!

Principally an introduction to Weird Space, which is to say Abaddon Books' latest shared world setting, The Devil’s Nebula is a novel as fun and undemanding as – and not a lot longer than – any episode of Farscape or Firefly... though I fear it goes in want of the wit and the warmth that made those gone but not forgotten science-fiction series so smart and remarkable.

And the width. Because this is not, shall we say, a narrative concerned with fundamental questions of "life, death, existence, non-existence. The arbitrary nature of the universe; the chaos, the order." There’s no harm in that, of course, no inherent foul; after all, not every novel need occupy itself with deep and meaningful experiences. Instead, The Devil’s Nebula’s core focus is on interstellar antics — such as the near miss with which it begins, when deep in enemy territory, the cast-offs who crew The Paradoxical Poettouch down on Vetch-controlled Hesperides.
Ultimately The Devil's Nebula could have been better, but problems and all, it still makes for a reasonable start to Weird Space. Decent enough that I'll at least read the next in the series, Satan's Reach — though coming off this kinda sorta disappointment, I'm rather more interested in Eric Brown's next next novel, which is to say The Serene Invasion.

But what about you guys? Anyone got a favourite shared setting? Suggestions for which other worlds I might be inclined to walkabout one day?

I've heard good things about Wild Cards over the years, for instance - and George R. R. Martin's involvement does tend to suggest there'll be something special about it - but I've never been sure where to start, or if I should even bother. Thoughts?


  1. If you are going to give Wild Cards a go I would suggest you read the first book at a minimum. There are quite a few volumes (21 so far I think?), some are standalone while others are part of trilogies.

  2. I read "Inside Straight" early last year without having read any other Wild Card books and really quite enjoyed it. It was the first in a new trilogy and as far as I'm aware no previous reading experience in the setting is necessary. You might get slightly more out of it if you have but I think it was written this way to sort of refresh the series and get new readers on board. I certainly enjoyed it enough to order both the concluding novels of that trilogy but I am yet to read them (for no particular reason). If you are in the mood for an easy reading super hero story then I would recommend this one for sure