I was pointed in the direction of this book by a new friend on Facebook. It’s what I would describe as a Military Sci-fi/ horror story and as I found out, something special.
Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.
Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.
Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.
The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.
Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.
If I might digress for a moment, way back in 1979, I saw a film called Alien. Today, it might seem like a lot of other films, back then it was a revelation. It introduced the ideas of a creepy spaceship, hidden danger, kick-ass women and an unspecified conspiracy.
Lost Solace is a book influenced by Alien, it’s unusual in that it has only one human character for most of it, any other humans that appear are peripheral. This could make the story boring and one-dimensional but it doesn’t. Our human, Opal, has a past and she also has a fantastic foil in Clarissa, the artificial intelligence of the ship she is flying at the start of the story.
Opal is a girl on a mission; we don’t know what but it’s clearly important to her. It’s clear that she has a past, information is passed along sparingly, making us yearn for more.
Karl Drinkwater has a way of ramping up the tension, while at the same time creating empathy, I CARED about Opal, felt every emotion with her as she explored the lost ship and tried to solve the puzzles; aided by a snappy one-liner from the A.I. She is very believable, flawed but fascinating, as all the best kick-ass heroines are.
The location is claustrophobic, boosted by the fact that Opal is in a spacesuit, with all the limitations that brings; even if it is an advanced combat suit. There are moments of (relative) calm, interspersed with well-written action sequences to make you sit up and read faster.
The technology is well researched, plausible and deployed perfectly as the story progresses. This is not a case of always having a handy tech solution, there’s just as much emphasis on problem-solving and the clever use of sometimes meagre resources.
In the end, we get a resolution of sorts, the great news is that there is a sequel, to continue Opal’s story.
I recommend this book. Four Stars.
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