Black Books Club: The Illuminae Files – You can get away with murder in space

It’s the year 2575 and mining company WUC has been illegally digging for hermium on the tiny planet of Karenza. When rival corporation BeiTech gets wind of this, it launches four dreadnought ships with orders to blast Karenza to kingdom come. 

In Illuminae, book one of the trilogy, a handful of Karenza residents manage to fight their way through BeiTech’s assault of gunfire and raining bombs and onto evacuation ships. But, as they race away from danger, they are pursued by a BeiTech ship and find themselves trying to outrun a warcraft built for annihilation while dealing with a deadly plague that breaks out on board their own ships. 

In the sequel, Gemina, the action moves to a quiet space station at the edge of the galaxy. It is the nearest safe haven for the Karenza refugees, their only hope. Unfortunately, a BeiTech strike team reaches the station first. The assassins take the military workers and their civilian families hostage, kill any resisters, and lay in wait for the refugees. Unbeknownst to them, three teens are running loose in the bowls of the space station and prepared to wage a David and Goliath fight to the death. 

The final instalment, Obsidio, is a race against time as the planet refugees and the space station survivors deal with a dwindling supply of oxygen and food. They’re forced to return to Karenza and face BeiTech in a final battle. 

Brad Pitt’s production company has purchased the film rights

The Illuminae Files were written by Australian writers Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The entire story is told through recovered artefacts: ship blueprints, text messages, incident reports, video footage, censored emails, classified documents, audio logs and so on. 

The plot twists and turns with the speed of a rattle snake. The threats are numerous: evil corporations, deadly plagues, rogue AI systems and brutal mercenaries. The books’ clever visual layout make it feel like an immersive reading experience. The text follows the action, swirling and floating across the pages, sitting at odd angles, growing in size, single words stretching to fill an entire line, switching from font-to-font and occasionally flipping upside down. There are also sketches scattered through the trilogy drawn by author and illustrator Marie Lu.

It’s a brilliant story. One that will eventually make it to the big screen as Brad Pitt’s production company has purchased the film rights. If you’re into Star Wars, Star Gate, Star Trek or any other starry space operas, you’ll love this series.

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