Top positive review
A Fantastic Sequel
on 27 June 2005
"The Dare" is the story of Dora the computer, a sentient entity who is dared by Tessa to grow her own body (see "The Challenge"). The flirty computer has only one goal and that is to seduce Zical, a Rystani warrior who has spent much time in space over the past four years transporting Rystanis from their hostile homeworld to the vastly more hospitable Mystique, a planet purchased by Tessa prior to completing her challenge. Attracted to her voice and personality whilst she was a computer, Zical avoids contact with the human Dora in an attempt to escape his growing attraction. He doesn't stand a chance when he does eventually meet her in person; after careful research Dora has created a body that perfectly reflects the image of his fantasy woman.
Following an accident after discovering a secret lab, Zical finds himself on a mission to save the known galaxy. His innocent actions have inadvertently set off a chain of events, putting countless planets at risk from the invasion of a deadly race known as the Zin. Hoping to track and reprogramme the Sentinels, machines created by the "Perceptive Ones" to protect the galaxy, he and his crew plan to travel further than any human has dared go, knowing that they may well die in their attempt. He is unhappy with Dora for enlisting on the mission, worried about her safety and haunted by memories of his wife and unborn child, killed during the Endekian invasion on Rystan. He is unsure how to deal with another vulnerable woman, especially one as unique as Dora, a wonderful character whose development throughout this book is incredibly realistic. Initially she only wants a body in order to attract Zical and experience sex but finds the confines of a human body scary. She has swapped immortality for perhaps a thousand years of life, millions of sensors are now downgraded to just two eyes which can't even see behind her and her vast reservoir of data is radically reduced to fit inside her tiny human brain. She feels deeply unsafe without a multitude of weaponry at hand to defend herself and frightened by the realisation that, unlike her main processors buried deep into the core of Mystique, she could easily injure herself or die. Lastly her wonderful new body is a disappointment, flawed by spasms and twitches she can't control.
This is a great sequel with a highly imaginative plot line, plenty of action and red hot passion between Dora and Zical; however I feel readers would benefit from reading "The Challenge" first, as it is assumed that the reader is already acquainted with much of the advanced technology mentioned and the Rystani culture. Like it's prequel, "The Dare" is an exciting read, with familiar faces making an appearance and the introduction of a new alien world ignorant of the Federation and it's member planets. We witness the emergence of a new sentient computer named Ranth, learn more of Kirek (the infant born in hyperspace) and his and Dora's abilities, extraordinary even amongst the psi-gifted Rystani. I very much look forward to the next book in this series "The Ultimatum". This story follows Xander, a Rystani warrior who makes a brief appearance in "The Challenge". Racing to save the Terrans (humans) from destruction he attempts to enlist the help of Dr Alara Bazelle Calladar, a hated Endekian, to help him find the homeworld of the "Perceptive Ones". Unfortunately this book is not due for publication until February 2006!