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A robot yearns to remember. A thief struggles to forget. A galaxy on the verge of collapse.

On the fringe of a broken civilization, a robot awakens with no memories and only one directive: find his creator. But in the village of Korthe, Beetro finds only radioactive pestilence, famine, and Miree—a tormented thief with dreams of retiring after her final score. Meanwhile, the fiefdom is plunged further into chaos when a new warlord seizes control, recasting serfs as refugees and leaving derelict robot peasants in his wake. With a shared interest in survival, Beetro and Miree team up to pull off an impossible castle heist: steal a single flake of dark matter, the world’s most valuable and mysterious ore.

But as they trek through the feudal wasteland in search of answers, they realize the true extent of the chaos surrounding them: the stars are disappearing from the sky and the entire galaxy is unraveling. As he uncovers his origin, Beetro discovers he may be the key to the salvation of the cosmos—or its destruction. Time, space, and loyalty become relative as he learns the real reason he was created.

A mind-bending science fiction epic with the bones of a fantasy traveling quest, Dark Theory unfolds through a journey of betrayal, identity, and unlikely friendships in a world of darkness set at the edge of space and time.


Book Information

  • Title: Dark Theory
  • Series: Dark Law #1
  • Author: Wick Welker
  • Page Count: 807
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 4.25/5.0
  • Date Read: April 21st, 2024

Opening Thoughts

Dark Theory by Wick Welker was my first reading from the Finalist round of the SPSFC-3 competition. I picked this one to be first for a couple of reasons. The first is I had already heard some positive chatter about this one as a couple of friends had read it not that long ago and seemed to enjoy it. The other is the fact it is the only one of the four finalists that I need to read which had an audio version available. I wanted to jump on the finalist reads as soon as I could to make sure I had enough time to get to them all. This rating and review are strictly of my own opinion and do not reflect in anyway our team scores for the SPSFC-3 competition.


The pacing was fairly smooth. This read was not without it’s handful of editing issues but I never felt they were distracting enough to trip me up much. As previously mentioned I opted to utilize the audiobook version which was narrated by Elizabeth Phillips. This read was conducted as an immersion read taking advantage of the narration as I followed along visual. This allowed me to still try and catch errors in the e-book version which I didn’t come across many glaring issues to trip me up. This story does have a couple of different story arcs taking place throughout the read. This might be difficult or uncomfortable for some readers but I though the author and narrator did a great job keeping me focused on what was happening throughout.

World Building

The world building was one of my favorite aspects of this read. The different levels of the world the majority of the story takes place is interesting enough. Toss in the possibilities of other dimensions and or timelines and things can get very interesting. There was a lot of mystery of what was going on and what had happened prior to the start of the book. It takes a good amount of time to eventually fill in many of those questions we might have as readers. I am in the camp that actually enjoys stories that are designed in this style.

Character Development

The character building takes some twists and turns and may seem drawn out at times but I thought the author still did a good job overall. I was hesitant at the start of the story as I have really been struggling with books focused on younger characters but I think in time there is a solid mix of age ranges with the characters. I also find myself enjoying stories with artificial intelligence (robots with human characteristics) lately. Beetro was a very interesting character to see his story arc progress. Even Ribcage who was one of our youngest characters and took some time for me to get attached to, eventually won me over as well.

Roundup & Recommendation

This author is not afraid to lose characters early and often though. I was very disappointed in one of our early and most significant deaths of a character. However, that characters spirit is an underlying trait which is brought up time and time again which helps several characters become who they are by the end of the story. These types of aspects remind me of individuals who made huge impacts on my life when I was young and helped me change my trajectory on where my life was heading.

In the end I did enjoy this read. As I said there is a lot going on and I think there is a lot of different appeal to be found for different readers with this story. There is plenty of traditional creative science fiction aspects such as technology to be found. There is also the different dimensions and timelines and another interesting part is the history of the previous races and their technological advancements which it seems we only scratched the surface of possibilities in book one. Out of the reads I’ve had in this competition, this is up there as far as feeling like a very polished and well put together story.

I personally will be keeping an eye on this series. I have noticed there is a novella currently available showing as #1.5 so I might try and get my hands on that in the next couple of months.


World Building 5/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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One Comment

  1. Great review! I agree with your comment about that early death. The worldbuilding was also my favorite part of the read, though the story turned a lot darker than I prefer in my fiction. I hope you enjoy continuing with the series!

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