Review: Satan’s Reach / Author: Eric Brown / Publisher: Solaris Books / Release Date: Out Now
Satan’s Reach is a sequel of sorts to Devil’s Nebula; same universe, same author, but it’s an entirely standalone story that builds on some of the backstory of the last book, and it’s part of a planned ongoing series called Weird Space.
The central premise revolves around Den Harper, a renegade telepath on the run from the totalitarian regime who ends up rescuing a young girl. Little does he know that a sinister alien invasion is under way and that every telepath is needed to help the fight. Sadly, Den is a little dull; he’s got a nice backstory, but his motivations aren’t terribly engaging.
This is symptomatic of the main problem with the novel, namely that all the characters are two-dimensional. An attempt is made to give them depth, but it falls flat and instead they are simply clichés. For example, one of the main characters is a strong Amazonian woman who just happens to be a lesbian – if that sounds familiar it’s because there is a very similar character in Devil’s Nebula. It also just so happens that the character’s colleague is an alien who seems to come from the planet Daily Mail. Several characters also seem to simply exist to blurt out endless exposition.
Though the novel makes an attempt at creating shades of grey, the bad guys are so evil that it’s hard to take them seriously; they just seem to be monstrous for the sake of it without any explanation as to why. The hard-bitten heroes are rather fluffy and dull. It’s short and tightly written, and an easy, if slightly repetitive read. The real pity here is that Devil’s Nebula was a great little romp, and this sequel of sorts is a huge disappointment. Brown has produced much better in the past, and we do hope that the next Weird Space book is a vast improvement.