Max Kidruk does not need any additional presentation. Readers already know the author of the techno-thrillers Bot, The Stonghold and Cruel Sky, and are waiting for the release of his books and other things. But in 2019, Kidruk, who has published a book for almost ten years in a row, or even two, fell silent for a long time. Now it is clear why. The New Dark Ages. The Colony, or simply The Colony is a large and serious work, which in general can claim the title of Kidruk’s magnum opus, especially since the novel will have a sequel and, hopefully, more than one. And we strongly recommend that every fan of science fiction pay attention to this book.

Title The New Dark Ages. The Colony
Genre science fiction
Author Max Kidruk
Publishing house Bearded Tamarin
Year 2022
Pages 904
Format 15 × 23.5 cm
Cover hard
Language Ukrainian

The Colony is Game of Thrones, i.e. A Song of Ice and Fire of an age of great space discoveries, where instead of the fictional kingdoms of Westeros, there are real USA, Ukraine, Russia and other states on Earth fighting for spheres of influence and survival on dying Earth and… on Mars. As in A Song of Ice and Fire, there are fragile alliances, under-the-floor intrigues, conspiracies, betrayal and, of course, innocent victims. What’s more, there is even a Red Wedding here.

Another analogy that comes to mind is the series of novels The Expanse by James S. A. Corey. The Colony also has about a hundred effective people (there is even a list of them at the beginning of the book), and the events take place simultaneously in different corners of the Earth and in different domes of Martian colonies. Well, again, Kidruk’s book also talks about the right of space nations to recognition, self-government and independence from Earth.

The New Dark Ages. The Colony. Max Kidruk: a cherry orchard somewhere on Mars

That is, from the analogies indicated above, you probably already understood that the novel The New Dark Ages. The Colony has almost no unequivocally positive characters, except for a group of scientists who are trying to find out what the hell is happening on Earth, and even then it is better to call them not positive, but neutral characters. Plus Ukrainian Nera Frankiv. And that’s probably all. All the others have either ulterior motives or some pretty big flaws. There are even issues with the representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora on Mars, who behave, especially with young people, as if they were born not in the XXI-XXII, but in the XVIII century.

Someone on Twitter quite aptly compared The Colony to an avalanche. A few pebbles thrown by the author at the beginning of the novel turn into a tectonic shift that grinds the lives, and destinies of individual people, groups, and even entire countries. In Kidruk’s book, the world of the 22nd century, where people are already gradually conquering the Solar System, and which at the beginning seems even a little similar to the world of Noon, the 22nd Century by the Strugatsky brothers, very quickly turns into a hostile and… almost the same as the world of the beginning of the 21st century. And it’s really scary.

The New Dark Ages. The Colony. Max Kidruk: a cherry orchard somewhere on Mars

The New Dark Ages. The Colony is a book by a Ukrainian writer and, of course, the events in it take place partly in Ukraine. Unfortunately, you will not like Mr. Kidruk’s forecast about the future of our Motherland. No, no, no betrayal, rather a realistic and very sad forecast, which, we very much hope, will not come true. Also, as we mentioned, there is a very large and very influential Ukrainian diaspora living on Mars, which… feeds all the Colonies, growing rye, beets, and potatoes in greenhouses (here we say hello to Andy Weir!).

The Colony is a big novel, well, that is, it is physically big. The book’s 904 pages are larger than the standard format (I can only imagine the paper consumption), and the font is very small. But the novel is read literally in one breath. There is a science fiction intrigue, a social one, and even a little detective story. An attentive reader, of course, can guess what event happened in the prologue and played the role of the very first stone, but it is still very interesting to read. Of course, every Ukrainian at the beginning of the novel guesses who is behind the events on Mars. But this is not so important…

The New Dark Ages. The Colony. Max Kidruk: a cherry orchard somewhere on Mars

Like all of Max Kidruk’s other novels, The Colony is written with great attention to detail. The author carefully prepared and painted a fairly realistic picture of the settlement of earthlings on Mars, as well as political games on Earth. You can argue with the author about details, such as why AI is not used to analyze YouTube video content; why isn’t all Earth-Mars Internet traffic filtered; how it was possible to miss a large construction in Earth’s orbit; and where, for God’s sake, all the Chinese and Indians are, but there is no desire to argue. Kidruk is persuasive and self-confident, and it’s captivating.

In 2022, Max Kidruk and his wife founded their own publishing house – Bearded Tamarin. The New Dark Ages. The Colony became the first book of the new publishing house, and this is the case when the first try was successful. The quality of not only the text of the novel but also the book itself is impressive. I’ll be honest, I’ve read a lot of fiction, including in gift editions, but I’ve never seen anything like this.

«Нові Темні Віки. Колонія», Макс Кідрук

First of all, there are good illustrations here, which have not been done for ordinary sci-fi novels for thirty years. I even remembered Evgeny Mygunov’s illustrations for Monday Begins on Saturday and A Girl With whom Nothing Will Happen, although the style of the drawings in The Colony is of course completely different. Second, there are drawings of Martian transport and ships. Thirdly, a color (!) insert with a map and renderings (!) of Martian colonies against the background of real (!) Martian landscapes. Yes, in the same place where the Colonies are in the book. This is really something!

As we already said, The New Dark Ages. The Colony is a big novel. 904 pages, that’s almost as long as Mr. Martin’s A Storm of Swords or A Dance with Dragons. But, as I already said, the format in The Colony is larger, and the font is smaller. The book weighs more than a kilogram, and it is just difficult to hold in the hand. In general, ergonomics is almost the only drawback of The Colony. Reading a novel is uncomfortable in any position. But the content more than compensates for this defect. We understand why Bearded Tamarin did this, it’s a bit of a bummer to release the first book of the publishing house in two volumes, but personally, I would have been more comfortable with a two volume.

The New Dark Ages. The Colony. Max Kidruk: a cherry orchard somewhere on Mars

Another drawback of The Colony… is that we will see the sequel not very soon. Of course, we asked Max Kidruk, who is quite active in responding to readers on Twitter, when to expect the second part. We’re afraid you won’t like the answer… it’s three years from now. On the other hand, with such quality, density and quantity of text, it was quite expected. Good luck Max Kidruk, and we really hope you don’t follow George Martin’s bad example.

The New Dark Ages. The Colony. Max Kidruk: a cherry orchard somewhere on Mars

As you probably already understood, we highly recommend the new novel by Max Kidruk to all lovers of true science fiction. The New Dark Ages. The Colony is actually another level of Ukrainian fiction. And this is a very impressive level.

And we also advise you to follow the Bearded Tamarin publishing house. As Kidruk reported, they have already signed several agreements on the translation of English-language books, and this is interesting and powerful sci-fi, which is also very cool. We are waiting for official announcements.