The shopping chain known as The Gap is mentioned frequently in slightly skeptical
terms by the main character of Microserfs (a novel by Douglas Coupland).
The phrase is rescued from dull shop-ness in a sequence of books by Stephen R. Donaldson. The series consists of
five science fiction novels that tell the story of three main characters
as they become involved in political power-plays. Each of the three main characters plays
different roles in the melodramatic trio of hero, villain and victim. As
the books progress, and as with many Donaldson books, it is the character's flaws
rather than their qualities that often determine the paths they follow.
In my opinion, these are the finest books Donaldson has written, surpassing
even the masterful Thomas Covenant trilogies. On the surface they appear to be
cliched genre pieces but the author adds depth, dark humour and brilliant twists
to what could easily have become a science fiction relation of Terry Brooks's
Shannara books (ie. very poor, thoughtless rubbish).
'The Gap' that the series is named for concerns FTL space travel
technology. A Gap Drive is an engine that can avoid normal space by
travelling through the Gap. This is a potentially lethal method of travel that
has unpredictable psychological effects on a small minority of people.
To control the Gap sickness of Morn Hyland, her captor, Angus Thermopyle
gives her an illegal zone implant that also allows him to control her in some
fairly sickening ways.
The setup for the sequence of books is that Morn is rescued by Nick Succorso.
The desire that the two men have for her and the capabilities given to her by
the zone implant give Morn a fragile power over them and it is this that drives the narrative