I’ve been looking forward to this one dropping for a couple of years. Even more so, with a binging Mass Effect playthroughs.
There is little not to like, a fusion of Alien, Event Horizon, The Terminator and a heist thrown in for good measure. The heist doesn’t last long before the situation descends from alarming to desperate. The story is well considered and doesn’t hang around. There is no 40 minute nerd-w***fest over Enterprise externals. Act, or die.
The over imagined terrors of empty space come back to haunt the crew as crime, betrayal and the squabble of avaricious ambition hurls Kara and Zed apart. Disparate characters, with a complementary skillset appeal to the yarn, with a solid tech backstory that becomes more eerie as the tale unfolds. Throw a curve ball into Pandorum (very underrated film) and flip gender and the novel is a plausible, understated sci-fi thriller, that twists and turns. Kara is no Ripley. She got herself into her concocted mess and gives less sh**s than the vacuum of space contains for the napping crew and passengers. Those who are left viable, anyway. I did like the touch of cryosleep being risky. Risky enough for 'wastage' being a voyage norm. Little details like that hark back to the working environment of Alien and Star Wars without the clinical sterility of 2001 and make it real and claustrophobic.
It is easy to throw comparisons at entertainment, and while the above give the vibe, there is enough uniqueness to the story arcs to make it stand out. I get the same vibe as I did with Michael Marshall Smith’s books. I wanted more after I read the original short story, and that has been answered in then latest versions and final release. Effortless prose and punchy characters that if anything, are even leaner than in the earlier Mercury’s Son. I quite enjoy keeping things barebones, and the sole (negligible) criticism I have is it being a little too lean, to keep pacing tight and fluid. Kara has little respite, and despite her training could easily be swamped by events, and her predicament, and that’s before the search to discover what the hell is actually going on.
Dealing with the situation and their general helplessness, is skilfully weaved into survival and escape. The added greater threat later on, elevates the tension even higher. The plot doesn’t hang on throwing nifty one liners, as nuking from orbit isn’t an option when creeping compartment to compartment.
It is great throwing Kara into the situation and deal with her diminishing odds of surviving each encounter and twist. You just wouldn’t want to be near her. Who doesn’t like a anti-hero. Unlike Aliens Prometheus, this is how to do it.
As for the pre-order, take my money!