Into the Light (Out of the Dark, 2)

Image of Into the Light (Out of the Dark, 2)
Release Date: 
January 12, 2021
Tor Books
Reviewed by: 

This is a sequel to the authors’ excellent first book, Out of the Dark, in which Earth is attacked by a race of beings called the “Shongairi.” The attack is sanctioned by the galaxy’s premier group of races that call themselves, “the Hegemony.” The Hegemony is far more advanced technologically than any other race or group of races in the galaxy. They wield this power in abandon, eliminating entire planets through genocide, only because the lifeforms there might one day challenge the Hegemony for ultimate power.

From observations of Earth’s warring nations and violence, the Hegemony assume that it would be better if Earth’s belligerent nations are extinguished, before they develop weapons similar to the Hegemony’s. The Shongairi, a warring race, are eager to do the job and, in just one day, more than half of all humans are murdered.

By the time humans learn how to fight back, two thirds of humanity are dead. But those pesky humans discover how to survive, in no small part due to the discovery of a race of apparent vampires who live deep in the Balkans. They are invincible to everyone, including the Shongairi and their weapons. Eventually, humans capture the Shongairi armaments, learn how to use them and how to swiftly educate themselves with advanced neurotransmitters, delivering instant cognitive upgrades. After that, the Shongairi flee, leaving some of their spaceships behind for humans to use for global defense.

Book two, Into the Light, begins where Book One ends. Humans decide to take the fight to the enemy. There is a new world government, led largely by representatives of the former United States, and humanity is united. The resourceful humans fabricate massive starships, employing the same type of weapons that the Shongairi use against them, with the goal of finding planetary allies and taking the war to the Hegemony.

The protagonists in this book are the Dvorak family. The father, Dave Dvorak, joins the remnant of the United States government as Secretary of State. He later assumes the same title in the new combined Earth government. Some of his children also play a large part in this story, as do the small brigade of very powerful and invincible vampires. The major protagonists are well-developed characters with rich personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. But everything revolves around Dave Dvorak.

At breakneck speed, the planetary government of Earth acquires and distributes an impressive array of new, advanced technology. The Hegemony neurotransmitters make Earth’s personnel incredibly bright, especially with tools and with very advanced cognitive abilities. They acquire massively improved printers capable of creating virtually any machine, including all types of defensive and offensive armaments. The newly dubbed “Earthians” swiftly build large numbers of tanks, armored personnel carriers, space cruisers, intergalactic starships, and a wide variety of weapons and machines that almost instantly make planet Earth a threat to other races on planets throughout the galaxy.

Physically, the people of Earth are dealt a huge advance by acquiring nanites, incredibly minuscule machines that can repair all kinds of damage inside the human body very quickly. Injected into a blood vessel, the nanites travel to whatever body part that has been injured and rapidly repair it from inside the body. Human beings now possess the same technology that their enemy possessed only a few decades before.

The one-third of humanity left alive has now become vastly more dangerous to the galaxy and much more able to defend themselves from attack. In addition to defending themselves, humans rapidly advance the nature and goals of Earth politics with new technology and adroit ingenuity. The Earth government now decides to take the war to their enemy, rather than wait for them to return to Earth with another advanced fleet. That fleet could soon be ready and perhaps even more capable of destroying humanity.

The initial step in this war of reprisal is to find allies willing to join Earth in battling the Hegemony. It is determined that Earth should first befriend the races living upon a planet in our galaxy called, “Sarth.” The races living there are slightly behind the technological level and capabilities of Earth, before the Shongairi arrive to destroy them. At some point in their future, they almost certainly would become a threat to the Hegemony. Most of the races on Sarth have similar military capability, less than that of Earth. Many of them cooperate with each other.

Dave Dvorak leads a battle group to Sarth. He intends to demonstrate how advanced Earth has become and how easily Earth could win a swift and complete war with Sarth. But Dvorak tells the leaders of Sarth that Earth seeks partnership, not conquest. The Hegemony will surely find Sarthians a threat, the same way they determined that Earth was a potential adversary. One day, Sarth too would be selected for extinction; however, as a result of a partnership with Earth, Sarth could defend itself and survive.

Unfortunately, one race on Sarth is very hostile to the others. That race will certainly one day bring the entire planet to the Hegemony’s attention. If they have no powerful partner, like Earth, they will be completely destroyed. But rather than partner with Earth, that dangerous race decides to attack all Earth representatives on Sarth. They try to murder Dave Dvorak, his family, and all the other members of Earth’s peace contingent.

The authors do excellent service to character development and to plot movement, setting an almost constant state of tension and relief—all the while keeping the reader involved. Like most science fiction, the writing is far more direct than flowery, more descriptive and haunting than obscure, and at a pace far more instantaneous than deliberate. Readers will benefit from having read the first book in this series, Out of the Darkness, but as a result of generous descriptive passages, it is unnecessary to have read it first book in order to enjoy Into the Light.

One item of forewarning: The authors devote considerable time and space to explain the details, capability, and technology of the Hegemony, the Shongairi, and eventually the powers from Earth. This is likely done in order to keep technophobes in the story as it progresses. All authors should, to a large extent, explain how and why their science and technology is believable. Therefore, it is not enough to say there are nanites that heal. Instead, we learn how the nanites work. It is not enough to say that humans have conquered just about the speed of light, without explaining how it works and how far they can travel in a span of time. This adds to the quality of the story, but not without adding to the hundreds of pages and more that make this an awesome book.