Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Debateable Space Debateable Space
by Philip Palmer
Orbit Books

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Debatable Space is Philip Palmer’s first novel. Mr Palmer has a day job as a TV script writer and regrettably, his day job has infected his novel.

The bulk of the story is told from the viewpoint of Lena, mother of the chief executive officer (The Cheo) and sole owner of the Universal Trading Corporation. Her history, for she has lived for over a thousand years, is given in chapters devoted to flashbacks through her life. The Cheo is the principal villain of the book; a self-serving megalomaniac with a troop of hangers on. Up against him is a band of pirates who transmute into freedom fighters.

Unfortunately, the characters were two dimensional at best, the constant change of viewpoint story telling was wearying, and the principal villain was a nonentity of the lowest order.

Debatable Space is a wild, sweeping piece of space opera, with irony and villains a plenty – but it doesn’t read as one, instead it reads as the novelisation of a TV series I would probably want to watch. The book makes a very good case for the TV series, but a weak excuse for a novel.

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