Set in the near future after a limited colonisation of the Solar System, this novel blends hard science-fiction and reasonable speculation with a layered international conspiracy.
A stand-alone novel in the Astronomican series. When the mining vessel Icarus detects a distress signal in the Trojan asteroid cloud, Captain Taylor attempts to offer aid, despite the risks. But when the missing craft turns out to be using an experimental drive, the dangers of space are only the beginning.
Beginning with two initially unconnected threads, Vincent successfully weaves political manoeuvring with overt threats, to create a plausible series of victories and reversals for both the crew of the Icarus and the joint US/UK rescue mission. This careful balance of internal tensions within the various crews with the differing goals of three crews produces a story that is accessible yet complex.
The descriptions of technology and astrophysics are detailed and realistic, both giving the book a solid basis in current astrophysics and allowing readers unfamiliar with astrophysics to appreciate better why events are dangerous, difficult, or both.
However, this detail might also reduce some reader engagement. Vincent often errs on the side of thoroughness, so readers who are already familiar with modern space travel might find some areas a touch obvious. Also, the drier style needed for technological exposition does slightly reduce the tension in some of the character-oriented sections toward the front of the book.
The main characters are well-rounded, with a suitable balance between having quirks and the likelihood people who do a similar job will have common traits.
Vincent is also not afraid to have personal sub-plots be both entirely separate from the main plot and subordinate to it. Unlike some books, the revelation of an odd background leads to neither a convenient skill at a later point nor the abandonment of major goals to play out a detailed critique of society’s inner tensions.
Overall I enjoyed this book. I recommend it to readers seeking a layered thriller or realistic science-fiction.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.