Dark Side of the Sun

Jim Mortimore, writing as Andrew Dymond

Boxtree Farscape series #2, 2000
ISBN 0 7522 7234 9
Although written under a pseudonym, this is unmistakable Mortimore. One part Parasite, one part Clark's Law and two parts Beltempest, Dark Side of the Sun has the familiar mix of strange aliens and gruesome deaths by the thousands. The lead characters all get near death experiences, some multiple times, but the usual Mortimore twist leaves the regulars in one piece (just about) by the end of it all.

Whether it is because of the lower word count than his Doctor Who and Babylon 5 work or because of the range guidelines, Mortimore opts for a simple plot with much of the book filled with lengthy back stories reminisced by each of the Farscape regulars. Whether they are Mortimore's creation or from the series bible (I suspect the former), these lapse into cliché at times (Zhaan, Chiana), but Rygel gets to be something a bit deeper. Farscape fans have generally given the book a poor reception complaining of inconsistencies with the TV series. As a less avid watcher, I found nothing jarring myself, although I can quite believe that Mortimore played fast and loose in places!

A straightforward plot is rather refreshing in Mortimore's work and this one is surprisingly neat. The finale is spoiled by a series of preposterous coincidences, but these are tangential to the central plot. The story is more about the themes of survival and loyalty, explored for each character through their past and present actions.

As with Mortimore's Babylon 5 book Clark's Law, it is in the alien—physiognomy and culture—that Mortimore reaches beyond the format. The breadth of his ideas allows for the book to be more than a TV episode in print. However, ultimately the mass death count only serves to undercut the emotional impact of each character's experiences, leaving Dark Side of the Sun somewhat unfulfilling in the end. Still, I'm a Mortimore fan through and through, so I'll give it a 7/10

Henry Potts, 3 Jan 01

Originally posted to the Jade Pagoda eGroups mailing list.

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