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Stealing Light [Hardcover]

Gary Gibson
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Oct 2007
For a quarter of a million years, an alien race has been hiding a vast and terrible secret

Product details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Tor (5 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230700403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230700406
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 734,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Prior to becoming a professional writer, Gary Gibson worked for an environmental agency, but left shortly after other members of staff attempted to levitate a local bridge as a protest against road traffic.

Following this, he worked as a graphic designer for a printing firm that turned out to be run by a gang of convicted forgers, hastening his departure, and then for a small publishing company otherwise notable only for producing a Freddie Mercury impersonator well-known on the Scottish cabaret circuit. Until recently he resided in Taipei with his wife, and is pleased to say that the only lunatic he has to answer to these days is himself.

He has a blog at

Product Description


'Stealing Light is remarkably free from the thick soup of description and metaphor normally associated with books of its genre'
-- Death Ray

'a gripping interplanetary saga close in tone to both Alistair Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton, but with enough edge and imagination to give it its own unique flavour...a seriously entertaining sci-fi pageturner.' -- SFX

'ambitious, clever and ultimately rewarding...Impressive.' -- Starburst

Book Description

In the 25th century, only the Shoal possess the secret of faster-than-light travel (FTL), giving them absolute control over all trade and exploration throughout the galaxy. Mankind has operated within their influence for two centuries, establishing a dozen human colony worlds scattered along Shoal trade routes. Dakota Merrick, while serving as a military pilot, has witnessed atrocities for which this alien race is responsible. Now piloting a civilian cargo ship, she is currently ferrying an exploration team to a star system containing a derelict starship. From its wreckage, her passengers hope to salvage a functioning FTL drive of mysteriously non-Shoal origin. But the Shoal are not yet ready to relinquish their monopoly over a technology they acquired through ancient genocide.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable space opera with huge ideas 13 Mar 2008
It is the 25th century and the Consortium spreads out over an area of space in the orion arm. Although humanity do not have the capability to use ftl travel, a species called the Shoal do, and are the only species in the galaxy with that know-how. They happily transport humans within the area they have been designated, but they also put strict limits within the agreement they have with humans, one among many being the prohibition of research into ftl travel.

Dakota Merrick is a machine head, a human with implants that were made illegal after a terrible attack that killed many innocent humans. She now does whatever work she can get using her ship, Piri Reis, although sometimes taking dangerous cargo to keep the money coming in. It is during a job like this that things go wrong and she must get out of the Sol system quickly and keep her head down. She gets work on board the Hyperion, working for the Freehold in what she is told is a scout mission searching for a new planet for them.

Lucas Corso is blackmailed into working for the Freehold, his specialist skills in Shoal computer language desperately desired. The Freehold have discovered a derelict ship, one with ftl capabilities, but not of Shoal origin. They hope to retrieve this ship and use it for what they hope will be a glorious victory over their enemies and the start of independent human expansion throughout the galaxy, all under their watchful eye. However, the Shoal have kept a secret for thousands of years and are prepared to protect it at all costs. Now that this derelict is discovered, that secret is at risk of being revealed.

The derelict found by the Freehold is the main focus of this novel and brings together all characters we meet.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average confusion 13 Oct 2008
This is a strange read from beginning to end. The plot was either frustratingly obvious, with the characters piecing it together like a drunk attempting a jigsaw puzzle, or just confusing, with random leaps of logic. There were some great ideas in there, original and solid, but the delivery was a little off. It's also worth saying that I'd read the next in the trilogy, if only to find out what happens next as the ending a very abrupt (and a little daft). Not a bad holiday read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't compare to Hamilton 29 July 2010
By Dan1986
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading through these mixed reviews and deciding to buy the book and find out for myself. I've decided to pass on my thoughts.

First of all, don't buy the book expecting Hamilton, Banks or anyone of that ilk. As this is not the same scale, style or general read. However, it is entertaining, fairly fast paced, and a good overall idea (as mentioned before).

The main issue is it's just not as deep as other books I've read.

My advice would be not to expect too much and you "should" enjoy it. I've recently got into Neal Asher I would recommend him if you have finished most of Hamilton and Bank's work.

Hope this is helpful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, some problems 28 Dec 2008
"Stealing Light" was a great read - I swept through it very quickly. The action moves through a series of settings, roughly aligned with the three parts of the book, and each setting is driven by different but overlapping concerns. The ending was good but seemed to be a rather sudden turn-around in the last page or two. I can't help but think that there was a better book lurking in here which weaves the plot strands a little more elegantly.

This might sound like a negative review but despite all this I really enjoyed the book and liked the ideas behind the plot. I felt the book had some resonances with themes in the "Babylon 5" TV series. I'll be trying one of Mr Gibson's other books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cracking read 27 Aug 2008
By A. Key
Fast-paced, tightly-written stuff. Not a classic but it kept me reading late into the night. If you like Alistair Reynolds and Neil Asher you'll like this - though you'll also recognise quite a few ideas borrowed from elsewhere. It suffers from one of the usual diseases of modern British hard SF: violence in huge quantities with improbable recovery rates (even taking into account the wonders of the medi-bay and the "autodoc" - another borrowed idea). After a while you start to wonder how many times a day someone can have his head kicked and his stomach punched before it starts to slow him down just a little bit...

I'd echo some of the comments about the ending: if this is the first book of the series then it's a good point to stop, but if this is a stand-alone book then it's a bit disappointing.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story - but so badly written! 3 Sep 2008
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The story is really strong and there are some excellent ideas here. The ending is also very good - I thought there would probably be some sort of 'get-out' but there wasn't - the characters have to live with the results of their actions.

But this book is just so badly written. The continual use of really over-the-top metaphor just reduces the whole thing to almost a pastiche of Flash Gordon - it is so 'gee-whizz' that it really started wearing me down. Yet I got through it - and I got through it because the ideas were so strong.

I think comparing it to early Alistair Reynolds is probably fair - but I actually got through this, whereas I simply gave up on Revelation Space. Give him his due, Reynolds has improved considerably since then. His latest - House of Suns - is a good read. So here's hoping Mr Gibson improves likewise.

What am I going to do when the next one comes out? Torn between the lure of some really powerful sci-fi ideas and the complete turn-off of a positively juvenile literary style; well, to be honest, I'll probably buy it. If you've ever read any early Alfred Bester (not including The Stars My Destination), you'll know that substance can definitely make up for form. :-)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Good SciFi
The basic plot: Aliens rule the galaxy through being the only race that has faster than light travel (called the Shoal), they rule through simple economics and brutal colonisation... Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Butler
4.0 out of 5 stars Another sprawling galactic space opera.
A solidly constructed addition to the modern space opera genre.

Plenty of other reviews go into great depth. Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. J. Ketchin
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb space opera on a grand scale
A cracking good read, with action, space battles, well-imagined aliens, dark secrets kept for millenia... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jon Storm
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read
I've enjoyed reading this book. I'm not going to say that it is perfect and some of the points raised by other reviewers do strike a chord. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nick_2039
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Great ideas and story line. I have immediately started the next in the series. I like the idea of machine head's, people with massive computing power available to them in their... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bookloverxx
4.0 out of 5 stars An accessible and fast read that is laced with mysteries, twists and...
Nothing is quite what it seems in Stealing Light. No character can be trusted - by us or by the other characters - and the worlds we encounter are laced with dangers as well as... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars I Am Lost For Words
Well, nearly.
This book cost me 1 penny!
It is a hardback in perfect condition, arrived promptly and for a small carriage charge. Read more
Published 10 months ago by GK
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good
Bought this on a whim and found it different enough to keep me reading. Just downloading the next book excellent
Published 12 months ago by A. A. Craven
2.0 out of 5 stars Messy
To be honest the first chapter put me off the book. It was messily written and required a few re-reads just to get hold of the character. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but ...
A good read but the editor should be shot.
It's a fast paced, fun read with lots in there for the lover of hard SF. FTL, brain implants, suspicious aliens. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mitis Green
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