A tense, claustrophobic and gripping science fiction thriller from the author of The Testimony.
A while ago for this very site I reviewed a fabulous book, The Testimony, by James Smythe. I was very impressed and as we near December 2012 it remains one of the best books I have read this year. I have also befriended the author on Twitter and got to know a brilliant, funny, kind guy with awesome taste in music. So you can imagine the honour I felt when Harper Voyager, James publishers, sent me a copy of the new book The Explorer.
When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.
But in space, nothing goes according to plan.
The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue.
But as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiralling towards his own inevitable death … unless he can do something to stop it.
I like James Smythe as a writer, The Testimony gave me so much enjoyment from a cast of hundreds all going through different emotions to one event so to read a book that for large parts is just one character, Cormac Easton, was very different but a very good different.
After a conversation with James on Twitter about spoilers, I promised not give many if any in this review, and to be honest I just wanted to copy/paste the entire novel for you all to enjoy as much as I did, but will try and review without destroying massive copyright laws.
The crew are all dead, this is not a spoiler it is written on the books description, but I was shocked and surprised with how and when. The only one left? the troubled soul of journalist Cormac. Throughout the book you are given flashbacks of when the crew where around, but throughout the whole novel I felt as alone and trapped as the main character, a reading emotion I do not get often and is praise to Smythe for the ability of gripping the reader from page one.
The ship itself runs on Piezoelectric, a self sustaining energy caused by the vibrations of the ship, and knowing you could just be joining one man on a mission of death is quite eerie.
The whole book is a sort of reflection of ourselves, of society, set against the back drop of space, whilst also being a superb work of science fiction in the traditional sense. The descriptions of space created by Smythe are spell binding, and the technical descriptions of the ship, systems, and all things science are clever enough to sound like a NASA manual but not to over the top that someone new to the genre would be put off by jargon.
I am pleased to announce this book will be available for public consumption in January 2013 and if the rumours are true a follow up novel is currently being written.
James Smythe can be contacted on Twitter @jpsmythe
his website www.james-smythe.com
and via his publishers www.harpervoyagerbooks.com