Finding Future Pirate Treasure in the pages of Debatable Space

Debatable Space presents a fictional future full of space pirates, instantaneous communication across stellar distances, redemption, retribution, revenge, and an alternative human history. It all coalesces into a novel of impressive scope that doesn’t ease up on the gas.

Author Philip Palmer is world-building with this book in a way that I haven’t encountered for quite a while. He’s almost smashed two books together that we jump between. One part is the events of the narrative of the pirate crew that we meet and follow, while the other is one character who’s lived a remarkable life, in the Forrest Gump sense.

The thing is, both parts in a vacuum are pretty compelling on their own. Should Palmer have decided to halve this book and release each part as separate entities in print form, both would be formidable. Yet here they are together, still very much like reading two books at once, which are both amazing.

“Space pirates” is not a new concept, and it’s not easily done well. You can’t just mix nautical stuff with the vast ocean of space and scraggly members of a spaceship and have a space pirate adventure. Well, you can, but it doesn’t automatically make it a good space pirate adventure, so I was very excited that Palmer nailed this one perfectly.

I feel like these characters actually are space pirates. What’s the difference between this and the other space pirate things I’ve read in the past? It’s too hard to define, but like Justice Potter Stewart said of hardcore pornography when the US Supreme Court was talking about obscenity, “I know it when I see it.”

And Debatable Space is that great Space Pirate adventure! It also happens to include some sex and violence, so perhaps if he were still alive, Judge Potter would know obscenity if he read this book.

Do I think it’s a detraction or a ploy to scintillate and titillate the reader? Absolutely not. These are space pirates! They plunder and pillage! Sex and violence comes with the territory. Personally, I enjoy a bit of sex and violence in my futuristic space adventures. Even if there weren’t pirates around, I don’t want to think of the future as a sterile existence in space where everything is just digital or virtual.

This book has it all – again we’re talking about space pirates, and sex, and violence. What more could you want if you want to read a book about space pirates? What if I were to remind you that there are arcs of retribution, redemption, and revenge? Do you want to read it now? Ok, if you do, enjoy; if not, you aren’t getting any spoilers from me!

This isn’t a book you’re likely to pick up and not finish if I’ve enticed you. It’s not a quick read, but it will go fast. Enjoy every page as you travel through space and time. There is also a historic element, and while it’s not time travel per se, you do get to time travel a bit to the past and back to the present of this book’s future.

If you think I’m gaslighting here, the front of the book proclaims it’s, “A brilliantly plotted and audaciously executed tale of revenge and revolution in the far future.” So at the very least, I’m not alone.

Great read. I give it 4 ½ out of 5 Pirates’ Wrath!

Read the Secret File of technical information and quotes from Debatable Space by Philip Palmer.