The Donovan series: Outpost, Abandoned, Pariah, and the forthcoming Unreconciled. Covers by Steve Stone.
W. Michael Gear knows his way around a science fiction series. He wrote the Way of Spider trilogy in the late 80s, the Forbidden Borders trilogy in the early 90s, and some, what, 20 novels in the First North Americans series, co-written with his wife Kathleen O’Neal Gear? This is a man who knows how to plot for the long haul.
His latest is the Donovan trilogy, which next week turns into the Donovan quartet with the arrival of the fourth novel, Unreconciled. The Dononvan trilogy (er, quartet) is a favorite here in the Black Gate offices. It opened with Outpost in 2018, which Brandon Crilly raved about right here.
I had a blast reading Outpost, the start of W. Michael Gear’s Donovan trilogy… The setting is very Deadwood meets Avatar, set on a frontier colony that hasn’t been resupplied in almost a decade, on a planet filled with bizarre creatures and plants ready to kill the careless or unfortunate. Add in a bunch of new arrivals when the next resupply ship finally shows up, and what you get is an immediate clash of cultures between the freedom-loving colonists and the representatives of the Corporation, which basically runs Earth back home (maybe there’s some Firefly in here, too). Overall, the running idea with a lot of the main characters is the possibility of either losing yourself or remaking yourself in the frontier, with arcs that are diverse and often surprising…
The world-building is amazing, there are echoes of contemporary political and economic conflicts, and an air of mystery that doesn’t take away from a story that feels complete. I really want to find out what’s going to happen on Donovan in Gear’s next book, which is slated for November 2018.
Mystery! Monsters! Freedom-lovin’ colonists! Killer plants! Evil corporations! An alien frontier! This series checks so many boxes it’s ridiculous. I may have to buy it twice.
[Click the images for frontier-sized versions.]
The Way of Spider trilogy: The Warriors of Spider (1988), The Way of Spider (1988), The Web of Spider (1989). Covers by Sanjulian
Does the arrival of a fourth volume mean there will be more? Who knows? Why question it! Just enjoy this 4-volume trilogy, your life will be better for it. Probably.
Here’s the complete publishing details, so you can add up the total page count and be as impressed as I was.
Outpost (422 pages, $26 hardcover/$9.99 paperback/$8.99 digital, February 20, 2018)
Abandoned (438 pages, $26 hardcover/$7.99 paperback/$7.99 digital, November 27, 2018)
Pariah (484 pages, $26 hardcover/$8.99 paperback/$8.99 digital, May 14, 2019)
Unreconciled (488 pages, $27 hardcover/$13.99 digital, May 12, 2020)
Yup, that’s 1,832 pages. You may need a reading vacation (or two) to tackle this one.
All four volumes were published by DAW books, with covers by Steve Stone.
See all of our recent coverage of the best upcoming science fiction and fantasy novels here.