Monday, March 2, 2015

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

Genre:  Adult Science Fiction Horror
Spider Wars Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Adam Christopher's website):
Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date.

But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard.

Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned subspace radio, only to tune into a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?

Somewhere in the near future, the human race is colonizing space.  Not only that, but travel to different galaxies is the norm.  Ida is about to retire from the Fleet, and his last job is to help decommission a space station that orbits a strange star.  This star turns everything purple and has enough radiation to kill people if they aren't protected against it.  As it interferes with the space station's signals, we find the skeleton crew is affected by the star's strange light and the shadows it casts.

Ida has just arrived to the space station as a captain, but no one believes he deserves the ranking he has.  Saving a planet and destroying a spider (a mechanical living-thing that's only objective is to destroy life by eating planets) isn't easily believed.  Especially if there's no record of it within the Fleet.  But as people begin to go missing and Ida's psychiatrist encourages him to get a hobby, Ida finds himself having reason to be afraid of the dark.  And as he recommissions a radio that can listen to wavelengths from subspace (an illegal yet eerie wavelength), he finds himself talking to someone who died over a thousand years ago.  Can he figure out what's going on before the dark consumes him?

To put it simply: this a ghost story set in space.  Honestly, I picked this up because I like the new Star Trek movies (give me a break, I was never a Trekkie in my early years).  But when I realized I had this whole geeky side of me, I figured why not give a pure science fiction piece a try?  And surprisingly, I enjoyed it.  I liked how, even in space, everyone's still afraid of the dark.  And this story works to tie in every character's past and explain why they're a part of the old space station's demolition.  It was nicely done.

This one is a recommendation to space nerds.  And I say that lovingly because I happen to be a space nerd.  Oh, and you have to be open to ghost stories...

Thanks goes to Tor for providing me a review copy.

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