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Douglas K Dandridge

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The Deep Dark Well
by Douglas K Dandridge   

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Books by Douglas K Dandridge
· Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1
· Afterlife
· Daemon
· Refuge: The Arrival: Book 1
· Refuge: The Arrival: Book 2
                >> View all


Science Fiction

Publisher:  Doug Dandridge Type: 


Copyright:  Jan 1, 2012

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A Kuiper Belt Miner jumps through a wormhole 40,000 years into future, to an enormous space station that was once the center of a Galactic Civilization. She must discover what has destroyed that civilization, before she joins the trillions who have died before.

Pandora Latham was just a country girl from Alabama turned Kuiper Belt Miner.  The last thing Pandi expected was to run into a ship from the future on the outskirts of Sol system.  Even less expected was that the ship would fall apart while she was inside it, the Universe correcting the paradox.  The wormhole in the center of the ship beckoned, and Pandi jumped through, forty thousand years into the future.  She arrived on a massive station built around a black hole.  Once the center of Galactic Civilization, the station was used to generate wormhole gates kinking the Cosmos.  The empty station is a memorial to the civilization that once was.

One survivor, an immortal being called Watcher, remains, guarding the secrets of the station from those who covet its advanced technology.  Watcher, lonely from his self enforced exile, befriends Pandi.  Soon the woman from Alabama discovers that there is more to Watcher than is apparent on the surface.  What was Watcher's part in the fall of civilization?  The answer to this question will determine whether Pandora Latham survives in this world, or becomes just one more death added to the trillions that went before her.

Pandi caught the movement out of the corner of her eye. Something in motion among the stillness of the station. Her body tensed as she slowly turned toward the movement, not sure what to expect.
Some kind of animal was her first thought, as she watched the thing moving in her direction. It was all the way across the long room, a hundred meters or more, and she wasn’t sure if it had even spotted her yet. It behaved as if it hadn’t. Its six legs moved in a most peculiar manner, rotating up and over as the long body slid forward. Not like the movements of a beast.
Its skin seemed to be made of a series of small scales of equal size. It had no discernible head, just a continuation of the long body. No mouth, no ears. Spots on the forward scales could be eyes, or something else?
A robot of some kind was her second thought, though like nothing she had ever imagined. She couldn’t guess its purpose from its configuration. Slowly she put the helmet on her head, not wanting make sudden movements that might alarm it. She pushed a button above the faceplate, engaging the helmet sensors. The creature leapt forward in her vision, as the faceplate magnified the image.
Definitely some kind of robot, she thought, wondering if it might be dangerous. On infrared it glowed an even orange color, no apparent power-generating center, as if the entire robot was equally power producing and using. Suddenly her faceplate went blank, opaqued over as if struck by a bright light. That was when she knew she was under attack.

Professional Reviews

The Deep Dark Well
Not too bad. I am in agreement with the product blurb, in that I was often reminded of the great grandmasters of sci-fi like Asimov and Niven. Set in far distant future, when galactic empires have risen and fallen, leaving barely a memory of their existence. Massive engineering on incomprehensible scales. There are also nods to some of the great writers within the story.

The story was well-paced. It wasn't a frenetic page turner like some action novels, but I don't think there was any moment where I felt bored with the story. Mysteries are introduced in such a way which made me wanting to keep reading. The major actors were introduced in a manner which felt natural, and the overall backstory developed over the course of the novel. I would certainly like to read more of this story.

So why three stars if I enjoyed it so much? There were some minor editing errors, typical typos and such. But the typesetting (or text formatting, since it's an e-book) needs to be addressed. The text changed fonts in various places, at random times. This threw me for a mental loop, since font changes such as this are often used as a story-telling device, e.g. perhaps to indicate a computer speaking. But there did not seem to be a reason, as the text would change size and font from one paragraph to another. Paragraphs were also either indented too far, or not at all. It may sound like a minor nag which I'm harping on, but typesetting is as fundamental to the book as editing and the story itself.

A Fun Read
This is classic space opera, with the science updated to modern specs. Admittedly I have a bias because I cut my teeth on E E Doc Smith, James Blish and others of this genre. I finished it in one read. I hope the author does more like this, as this type of book has become uncommon in the last few decades. Another review mentions some problems with the publication that are more of the nature of editing and "typesetting", and while those are obvious, they did not detract from my overall satisfaction with the book

Dancing Madly Backwards, then forward again
I enjoyed this one all the way through, and the beginning didn't give a hint at where it was going to end. I especially like the way Dandridge introduces limitations on the end-time hardware. Star Trek's easy technology is just that, easy. This book presents tremendous technologies, but each have their limitations and even hazards, something all to true in life. High speed sub-light travel with the downside of braking to deal with, not something dealt with in traditional sci-fi much. The author left open the possibility to follow the characters for further adventures. I hope he follows up on this. Great read with more solid detail than is typical.

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