STEPHEN DONALDSON - "THE GAP SERIES" (VOYAGER)
"The Gap into Conflict - The Real Story"
"The Gap into Vision - Forbidden Knowledge"
"The Gap into Power - A Dark and Hungry God Arises"
"The Gap into Madness - Chaos and Order"
"The Gap into Ruin - This Day all Gods Die"
Back in 1988 I was totally knocked off my socks by two trilogies written by Stephen Donaldson - the first and the second "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever". Although I had my complaints about the fact that the main character was a very unsympathetic one, the world into which Covenant transgressed was incredible rich and original, and to top that off Donaldson has an excellent way with words (half of my vocabulary, I sometimes think, I have from his books).
Somewhere in 1991 I read the first book of the "Gap" series. I was quite disappointed; it was almost a cops'n'robbers kind of story set in a bleak space future, and didn't appeal to me much. Because I continued to read good comments about the series, however, I gave the whole thing another chance this summer. Again, I didn't like the first part much. In retrospect, it seems as if it was written after the four later parts, perhaps as an explanatory afterthought. But in the second part the plot thickens and the story grabs you by the delicate and danglies.
The world in which the series is set is one run by, well, a corrupt and virtually commercial police organisation. All protagonists become pawns in games played wholly or in part by people in the police organisation's highest echelons, and the story is pregnant with betrayal, anger, conspiracy. Every time you think you've got the ulterior motives worked out, when the rug is pulled from under you, other factors get added, and you don't know what the heck is happening. The "Gap" series is a story of enormous complexity with all the bits fitting neatly together - though not until after a lot of mental exercise on the part of the reader.
The books are pretty harsh. The future is not one with silver linings, people are driven by greed, a need for power and the tendency to corrupt. In this, well, pretty sick world, pretty horrible things happen, morally and physically. It's a harsh science fiction series, but an extremely brilliant one. Although I couldn't possibly say it's better or not quite as good as the Thomas Covenant books - they are so different - this is a challenging and captivating read.
Released between 1990 and 1996, ISBN 0-00-647019-X, 0-55-329760-0, 0-00-647021-1, 0-00-647022-X and 0-00-647023-8
Written September 1998
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