Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber. Review by Violet Kane

Book Cover

In Print
Many authors are increasingly mixing science fiction and fantasy genres in effort to create intriguing worlds more nuanced and complex than either genre offers alone. David Weber, on the other hand, is just trying to write two novels at the same time.

As this novel opens, a star-faring battleship of Earth's top military officers heads out to face the invading Gbaba aliens, to mount a last stand that will serve as a distraction while a colony ship slips out into the far reaches of the universe, searching for a home for what will be the last surviving humans. The members of the colony ship have agreed to have their memories erased and to be implanted with new ones in effort to build a new society of humans to safeguard against the Gbaba threat—as long as their technology does not get too advanced, the Gbaba will remain uninterested. But what the colonists don't and will never realize is that their memories are replaced with a rigid belief structure wherein they honor their leaders (who have the convenience of powerful anti-aging remedies) as arch-angels, believe they were formed whole by God and live under the stringent power of a church hierarchy based upon that of medieval Catholicism.

Book Cover

On Audio
This description doesn't introduce the half of this book's main storyline because it's just too complex and I won't bore you with the details. The essential problem in this book is too much concept and too little character development. For a 600 page (25 audio disc) book, it is much too heavily laden with conceptual development. And logically so—Weber has set up a situation where he can write simultaneously a fantasy and a sci-fi novel. He has the interplanetary threat and the backwards medieval culture. All he needs is a life-realistic, gender-morphing robot to infiltrate the stringent church-dominated world as a super-human warrior and... wait, he does. That's the rest of the premise. I'm sorry, but this book simply does too much. The concept is much too complex for any interesting character conflict to seep through, let along any new or innovative ideas. The audio production of this book is well enough performed, but at 25 discs, it's positively exhausting.


Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.