Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.
Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.
Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.
Reviews for Dark Orbit:
“A thoroughly engrossing story with a fast-paced plot, memorable characters, and big ideas, this book is science fiction at its very best.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Dark Orbit is set in the same Twenty Planets universe as Gilman’s 2010 novel Halfway Human. Comparisons to Ursula K. LeGuin are inevitable (and not unwarranted), but Dark Orbit has a strong thread of thriller-like suspense that keeps one turning the pages. I think a more apt comparison is to the work of James Tiptree, Jr.” —Analog
“Dark Orbit is a well-paced and engaging story that doesn’t disappoint. The mystery and intrigue builds to a climactic ending with several surprises along the way.” –Science Fiction Book Club
“DARK ORBIT is old school in ways that fans of classic sci-fi will find delightful: new planets! Weird spaceships! Strange societies! Alien flora and fauna! Reality-warping space! But it also feels modern—uncalcified and unfussy, bold and unexpected.” —The Portland Mercury
“Not only did I find it highly original in some of its concepts, it also left me feeling a bit nostalgic for the science fiction heyday of authors like Harry Harrison and James E. Gunn.” —SF Revu
“Blending mystery, philosophy, and science gracefully in a twisty plot, Gilman has written a challenging but ultimately satisfying space adventure that explores how the most basic preconceptions can distort our outlook. It’s a winner for any sf fan …” —Library Journal
“One hell of a novel.” —Tor.com
“ A novel that will make you think about perception, human nature—even the nature of reality—while remaining consistently gripping and moving. …Dark Orbit remains thought-provoking days later.” —RT Book Reviews Top Pick, 4 ½ stars
- iO9 Very Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2015
- Kirkus Reviews essential speculative fiction reads for July 2015
- Best New Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books of 2015 for July—Nerd Underground