New Hope, was in many ways, an anachronism. The settlers of New Hope had left Earth centuries earlier yet as soon as they landed, a schism appeared between the two groups of settlers. In DART by Dale Renton we meet Darthanil Black, a Former and previously First Blade to the ruler of New Hope, Analine Wills. Now, framed for a murder he didn’t commit, Dart is on the run and that running takes him straight into the arms of the second group of settlers, those known as the Sylth. The Sylth have rejected the Former’s embrace of Artificial Intelligence and have instead made their lives as an integral and symbiotic part of the plant and animal life of the planet. Living close to the core of an active volcano, they are protected from attack by the Former’s. When Dart’s life is saved, sort of, by the beautiful and enticing, Sylth maiden, Amarth, Dart knows he is entering a battle for control of their planet. Everything lies in finding the two keys that will give ultimate power to the possessor.
I do like a good science fiction story with a moral message and DART by Dale Renton, is exactly that – a good science fiction tale that embodies a strong moral message for us. I liked the idea that even leaving Earth and settling on a new planet didn’t change the basic philosophical split between the two groups of settlers – one group wanting to use the Artificial Intelligence to terraform their new planet into a carbon copy of the world they’d left behind, with the other group, innately suspicious of AI and wanting to adapt to the environment of the planet they’d arrived on. The slide back into “middle ages” technology because of the separation of the two keys was what made the story even more interesting. I loved the relaxed, easy style of the writing of the author, plus the constant conflict and struggle between those that want to preserve and those that want to mould their new world with technology. The concept of AI and the potential it has to go “rogue” is something we are at the point of addressing currently and that’s one of the reasons I found this such an enjoyable read. The hatred between the two groups on Sylas was palpable and it wasn’t hard to draw some corollaries with happenings today. The scintillating wit of Dart was definitely a highlight of the read and I commend the author for his clever use of sarcasm and scorn to get his point across. I thoroughly enjoyed this witty, clever, and action-packed science fiction romance and can highly recommend it.