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Dark Universe
Daniel F. Galouye
Victor Gollancz SF Collectors' Edition, 154 pages

Dark Universe
Daniel F. Galouye
Daniel F. Galouye was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1920. He attended Louisiana State University (B.A.) and he became a test pilot during WW II. After the war, he worked as a newspaper reporter and, in 1967, he became the paper's metro editor. In 1951, he published his first story, "Rebirth," in Imagination. One of his novels, Counterfeit World (aka Simulachron-3), was filmed as a TV mini-series, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Daniel F. Galouye died in 1976.

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A review by Hank Luttrell

Daniel F. Galouye isn't well remembered today. He wasn't among the first rank of popular science fiction writers during his career, which started in 1952 and continued for about ten years. Galouye was a talented, innovative author, and his books undoubtedly sold in reliable if not huge quantities. Dark Universe was his first novel, published in 1961.

I recall reading his stories with great pleasure as a teenager in the 60s. I must have passed on this title, because I hadn't read it until now. I probably didn't read it when I first saw it because it is a post-apocalypse novel. It seemed to me in those days that I was reading too many after-the-bomb stories. I had some favourites, like Leigh Brackett's The Long Tomorrow. It wasn't as if these stories were unremittingly dark or depressing. Such was the nature of popular science fiction that most stories had optimistic or upbeat conclusions. But none the less I was a bit bored with too many Cold War-inspired tales of the end of civilization as we knew it.

Galouye's surviving humans have been reduced to living underground in subsistence circumstances; after generations of hiding underground they have forgotten most of their history. The failure of some of their life support systems has forced them to live in complete darkness. (I can understand how their electricity might fail after many generations, but just why they don't have fire isn't explained. Oh well.) In compensation for the loss of vision, the sense of hearing has gained great acuity, rather like a bat's sonar sense. The survivors' lifestyle is a delicate balance; any set back in their food production, for instance, might doom the community.

The book's protagonist is determined to understand more of his world, to understand the concepts of "light" and "darkness" which have become religious and mythic terms in his culture, since they have no conception of vision, and they understand their surroundings in terms of audio impressions, echoes. Their vocabulary doesn't include "see," only "hear."

Galouye's scenario is startlingly unique and imaginative, in itself an intriguing mental exercise. In addition to this, the characters that populate his dark world are believable and dynamic. So the book I set aside so long ago became a treat for me today.

Copyright © 2001 Hank Luttrell

Hank Luttrell has reviewed science fiction for newspapers, magazines and web sites. He was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo Award and is currently a bookseller in Madison, Wisconsin.

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