The future. Deep space, humans, off-world species, aliens, cargo freighters and mining. A science fiction with a dash of dystopia, In the dark spaces will have you holding your breath through each subsequent chapter.
Author Cally Black richly deserves the Ampersand Prize for this outstanding read that focuses on power, loss of innocence, imprisonment and the cost of survival. What would you do if the only family you had disappeared?
Tamara, main character and teen stowaway on a cargo freighter, is suddenly fighting for her life - and her cousin’s. In disbelief she repeats to herself ‘Crow people don’t exist.’ C Black has painted a vivid imagined world that has off- worlders clashing with Crowpeople.
The choices Tamara makes are presented through the lens of two characters: a doctor and Major Rochford. The reader is invited to explore these perspectives: one paints her as a victim, the other as a calculating murderer.
The doctor explains “Given the circumstances that would be a reasonable assumption for a young person in a captive situation.”
“She’s been brainwashed. She’ll always be a vulture,’ Rochford says.”
This dialogue raises the question of where should one’s loyalty lie? With the familiar off-world group or sophisticated aliens – both capable of violence and murder?
This thought-provoking novel resonates with contemporary societies. And raises the question who has the right to steal natural resources and inflict harm on another group?
In the dark spaces leaves the reader reflecting on human rights and the possibilities for societies to co-exist harmoniously and successfully thrive.
Title: In the dark spaces
Author: Cally Black
Illustrator: Astred Hicks
Publisher: Hardy Grant Egmont, Australia
Date of publication: 2017
Ages: 12 upwards
Reviewer: Michele Ayres, Librarian, Motueka High School, Tasman
Book opening sentence: Gub’s silent giggles escape in little puffs.