This novel is a very well-wrought old-school space opera. It presents its characters with a problem to solve at the outset—an impending war between the independent Inner Cluster and the unified Coalition provoked by suspicious causes—and through their individual efforts to uncover the truth it elaborates a future in which humanity has exploited imaginative new technologies to colonize the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Its pieces fit together neatly and accommodate a number of unforeseeable twists.
Prose/Style: Tkacz’s prose style is simple and direct, which serves his story well. The author has a considerable backstory about humanity’s future to fill in over the course of the story, but he reveals it organically through the activities of his characters. This story never feels burdened with exposition or information dumps.
Originality: The broad themes of this story—the sanctity of individualism versus the benefits of organized society, military versus diplomatic responses to a threat—are common to much classic space opera fiction, but the author finds novel ways to express them through the incidents and events specific to his plot.
Character Development: The personalities of Tkacz’s main characters are largely defined by the function they serve for the plot, but the author gives each an important role to play. Admiral Raasch is the military leader skeptical of the motives of the politicians he serves; Q’biin Khalihl, representative of the Inner Cluster, is an outsider to the Coalition forces represented by Raasch; and mediator Aasben Meiind is a diplomat endowed with a wild talent. The personal differences they demonstrate and their coordination as an integrated team underscore the novel’s the themes of juxtaposed themes of individualism and community.
Date Submitted: April 04, 2019
The Void Within: The Cluster Saga Book One was an amazing read. The stage is set in an engaging and exciting way. I was on the last page before I knew it (and before I wanted). Great read and leaves me wanting more.
“The Void Within” by author Carlos R. Tkacz, is an excellent work of science fiction that will surprise the reader with its freshness and new ideas. I have read much ‘space’ fiction in the past, and wondered at what could be presented here that would be new and exciting. I had become bored with space ‘war’ works and even very cerebral ideas in this genre, but “The Void Within” really is different.
I appreciated the note from the author that began the book. It was very forthright and frank, to say the least. I am also a fiction writer and know the feeling of having to ‘get the work out, get it done’ as was expressed in this opening. The fact that Mr. Tkacz gave several methods of gaining personal contact with him was refreshing and made me feel that he as the author actually cared about the opinions of his readers.
The dialog was interesting and believable. I enjoyed it and also the seriousness of the writing. It was ‘real’ without being technically laborious. The idea of ‘instantly’ traveling vast distances in space showed great creativity and presented a new way to cope with the distances that bog down most space sci-fi works.
I found the novel to be beautifully written. I enjoyed the idea of where mankind was before ‘pre-skip’, how we as space-traveling humans meandered around the closer reaches of the universe and slowly made our way down our arm of the spiral of the Milky Way.
This is a book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys space sci-fi, but who also craves a fresh look at space conflicts and ways to solve the problems with travel in the vastness of the universe.