The Library Corner reviews The Outer Spheres.

24th century princess Charity Freestone is fighting for her life against the massed forces of at least two diabolical business enterprises who have the power to inflict Andrew Wallace - Diamond Roads - #2 The Outer Spheresdeeply unpleasant forms of torture, such as the mysteriously frightening Stop House and a ferociously claustrophobic coffin-like apparatus which sends people mad.

Luckily, Charity is not only resourceful and well-trained in combat, but she has 23 on her side, the quasi-telepathic sidekick who watches her back.

She also lives at a time when necessary resources – guns, bombs, spacecraft – can be seemingly conjured up at will, as long as you have the “kilos” in your account to pay for them, that is.

Brave New Worlds

It takes just a few pages to adjust to 24th century life in Andrew Wallace’s The Outer Spheres – the second installment of his pacy and imaginative action-SF series Diamond Roads. It probably helps if you’ve already read the first – Sons of the Crystal Mind. But it’s not essential.

We soon get the hang of how things work and if sometimes the backstory feels a bit complicated, don’t worry. There’ll be a scintillating battle or a nail-biting confrontation just around the corner.

Wallace handles his brave new world with a lightness of touch, dark humour and a visual bravura that carried this reader happily along. Charity could have been a cliché female action hero, in the Laura Croft mold, but she’s more fun, and has a more complex emotional life than most.

He’s not afraid to bring in personal themes and characters – mother, sister, lover, mentor, and so on – Charity has strong if conflicted feelings for all of them. And he manages to avoid the predictable and give the novel an emotional credibility that is often lacking in action stories.


Part of the charm of the book is the unusual feel he gives to 24th century technology. It’s said that all technology seems like magic to someone who doesn’t understand how it works, and here Wallace manages to give his invented world a magical – almost fantasy – atmosphere.

I like that. I like the quality of the writing – something that is rare in genre novels. And I like the way he satirises corporate greed.

At the heart of the novel is the way that large organisations, and their leaders, go into battle. These are people who cannot stop themselves fighting and hurting the people around them. By the end, there is a sense that all their victories are empty, crumbling just like the structures in the strangely soulless Outer Spheres themselves.

A good read that kept me turning the pages to the very end.

You can get Diamond Roads here – UKUSA

Andrew Wallace’s website