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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unusual and engaging
I don't normally write reviews - but was amazed by the number of 1 star ratings this book has got.

On one level it's classic space opera - but written with multiple perspectives, lots of ideas and some wit. I found characterisation to be good, and the story generally moved along at a decent pace.

Some of the 'gimmicks' others mentioned (like using...
Published on 21 July 2011 by Lack focus

versus
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst SF books I have ever read
It's not often that I'll finish a book and be actually angry at how utterly awful it was, to the extent that I'll take the time to write a review to help others avoid it.

The author takes many many ideas, most of them unoriginal, and crams them all in without any any development or explanation making them completely unbelievable. Sadly a similar approach is...
Published on 5 April 2009 by Neil


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unusual and engaging, 21 July 2011
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
I don't normally write reviews - but was amazed by the number of 1 star ratings this book has got.

On one level it's classic space opera - but written with multiple perspectives, lots of ideas and some wit. I found characterisation to be good, and the story generally moved along at a decent pace.

Some of the 'gimmicks' others mentioned (like using whole pages with just one symbol or word on them) I liked - and felt they added to the sort of playful style...

Anyway - I'd recommend it (though I thought 'Version 43' was better...)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting Space is more like it, 24 Jan 2008
By 
Amazon Customer "Gav" (Cardiff, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
A band of pirates kidnaps the daughter of the ruler of the universe and holds her for ransom. The trouble is ruler of the universe Cheo isn't that receptive to their demands and their prisoner, Lena, isn't what she first appears.

But this isn't just a pirate story. It's an exploration of 1000 years of human history. And what has happened? Human have travelled, colonised, enslaved, and turned into dolphins (well some of them have).

For a first novel it's a big challenge and a bit of a balancing act. Palmer presents his story from multiple viewpoints. We delve into the minds of Lena, the pirate crew, occasionally others, but we get most of our information from Lena.

And this is where the balancing act comes in. How time do you spend with each character and how they appear will depend on their part of the story. As Lena is a big part of the story we spend a lot of time with her. As a main character she is a fascinating and a worthy companion. The problem is she goes on a bit.

Palmer through her retells how the current state of humanity came about. He does occasionally retell too much. This is slightly frustrating especially as events speed to a conclusion when we're presented with a large chunk of history. It is relevant but maybe isn't as vital or as enjoyable as Lena, or perhaps Palmer, thinks.

This is strange as I enjoyed most of the other tales and the asides and presentation of history. It's probably because it takes too much time out of the current action at a point where it should be sprinting towards the finish.

This isn't though a fatal flaw. The characters are varied and well formed; the story is well planned and interesting. And most of the time it works. When it doesn't I'd put down to over enthusiasm on Palmers part to share the universe and history he's created.

For a first novel and a story on such a wide scale Palmer keeps a good grip on the reins and where it does get away he pulls it back in. I look forward to seeing what tale Palmer tells next.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst SF books I have ever read, 5 April 2009
By 
Neil (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
It's not often that I'll finish a book and be actually angry at how utterly awful it was, to the extent that I'll take the time to write a review to help others avoid it.

The author takes many many ideas, most of them unoriginal, and crams them all in without any any development or explanation making them completely unbelievable. Sadly a similar approach is taken to the characterisation.

It's written in the style of a precocious teenager desperate to please the reader, and uses ridiculous techniques such as taking a whole page to write 'up ... up ... up ' diagonally across the page in order to describe flying... honestly.

The pacing is all wrong, it's completely juvenile, the plot lines are hackneyed, and the whole thing is a waste of your time and money.

If you're a fan of the likes of Iain M Banks or Alastair Reynolds, do yourself a favour and give this one a wide berth.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth persevering, 18 Mar 2009
By 
Queen of NW2 (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
The introductory pages really put me off. So much so that the book sat gathering dust for weeks on the bedside table. But I gave it another go, and I'm glad that I did. If you can break through the crust of the first 20-odd pages, you'll be rewarded with some great imaginary landscapes, ideas and future alternatives. But can't say that I liked the multi-narrator structure - to me very jarring. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. But I'd certainly consider reading what Philip Palmer comes up with next.
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4.0 out of 5 stars HEAPS OF FUN (FOR NON-PURISTS), 23 Jun 2011
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
The response to this gleeful book is saddening, and tells me just as much about the readers as it does about Mr Palmer's delightful novel. Debatable Space is a fast-paced and witty space opera that reaches that places a lot of science fiction doesn't. It's touched by a humanity that's absent in much lofty hard sf, and the breadth of the author's worldview is apparent in his life-affirming writing style. This is a romp, sure. But it's an intelligent romp written from a humanist stance, by someone who has a deep appreciation of life and the arts, and that enthusiasm comes through in the prose again and again. If your life revolves around science fiction, than this might not be the book for you. But if you appreciate science fiction as part of a varied diet, you'll enjoy this delightfully dotty book all the more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Strong debut..., 21 Jan 2011
By 
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
Engrossed in devising rhapsodic phrases about a newly discovered sun, Lena is far too slow to respond to the threat of pirate invaders - until they board her yacht and take her hostage. Flanagan, their captain, explains that they will hold her ransom to extort money from the brutally ruthless ruler of Humankind, the Cheo. As Lena is one of the Cheo's daughters, he's bound to pay up. Only he doesn't. Because, as we discover, nothing is exactly at is initially seems. Not the Cheo, not Flanagan - and certainly not Lena.

As her imprisonment with the pirate band continues, Lena re-examines her life. And we are treated to a fascinating insight into a complex, believable posthuman character, warts and all. The episodes she recounts take us on a journey from moments of true poignancy to high farce, while exploring the options open to a driven, insecure character on finding herself immortal. However, living alongside the pirate band means that she now has to accommodate the needs and wishes of others - something she hasn't had to do for a very long time.

Palmer's world is convincingly depicted with plenty of hard science to support his detailed universe. In fact, my only major quibble with this book is that Lena's descriptions of the technological changes throughout her lifetime, at times, holds up the narrative. Other than his deft handling of his heroine, the other standout feature of this book is Philip's punchy writing style and the wry humour that permeates the story. It leavens the violent backdrop and helps us identify with Lena. I cared about her - despite her opinionated, vain and selfish character. The fact that Palmer manages to pull off such a trick in his first novel marks him as a talent to watch.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, terrible book, 10 Mar 2010
By 
A. Rose (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
I love 'hard' Sci-Fi and am constantly looking for new authors, however I certainly regret this particular purchase.

I finished the book only because I couldn't believe that it could be this bad all the way through - unfortunately I was wrong. The science is rubbish and the grand scale just plain laugable - the fleet fight which had millions of ships on either side, and was covered in just about a paragraph, being a particular low point of the book.

I can't recall anything I've read that's been this poor. Not recommended.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the next one will be better, 28 Jan 2008
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
This book intrigued me from the writeup on the back,but I ended up being massively disappointed. The book came across like a collection of development notes for a novel yet to be written; we get massive backstory from Lena,making her the most interesting character, a hint about Flanagan, and the rest of the cast are mere cyphers. The story too is all over the place- huge blocks of time pass in a matter of a couple of pages, the crew are seemingly superhuman and indestructible whilst everyone they meet is mere cannon fodder, giant space battles are barely described and seem like throwaway events as opposed to epoch-changing cataclysms. The "you are Prey" hook alluded to on the cover appears in the final third,but is barely a threat despite superb imagination.
Which is a shame as, in parts, this is great stuff. It is just let down by incoherent plotting and confusing story telling. I dunno,maybe I just got lost somewhere, but I was disappointed, frustrated and left the book feeling confused and let down.
I would read another book by this author, but just can't recommend this one...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A taste worth acquiring, 14 Nov 2008
By 
A. Thomas (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
I can see how this may not be for everyone (hence the fairly polarised ratings so far) but I thought it was wonderful.

I've been trying to think of a ways to describe the novel but have failed miserably. It's a vision of the future that is strangely realistic yet completely OTT and unbelievable. It's stylised, even pulpish in some ways. It's great fun but also serious. It's...erm...

Read it. You might hate it, but if you don't you'll probably love it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK but a bit of a disappointment, 4 Mar 2008
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Debatable Space (Paperback)
For a first time author, Palmer certainly doesn't think anything of setting his sights high, however the way that it comes across it can be a bit Hodge-Podge as the book has a hard time keeping all elements within its sights. It's like those epic tales that need two or three films to get the message across being condensed into one so that the tale is never fully told without sacrificing some wonderful concepts leaving it short and unfortunately turning what should be a big screen epic into a TV movie with time constraints. A real shame.

Following the current trend set by authors such as George RR Martin, the story is told from multiple first person points of view with only the reader getting the bigger picture. If you're looking for a tale that carries multiple points of view, dodgy double dealing alongside naivety that the author can exploit in future works then this is a book for you. Personally I do wonder how much of this was intentional and how much accidental that will leave the readers arguing as to whether the author has something special in mind or just a half baked scheme that he's padding out. We'll have to wait for book two to discover this and make our full opinion.
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Debatable Space
Debatable Space by Philip Palmer (Paperback - 24 Jan 2008)
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