Book Review: DEAD SILENCE (2022), CONJuration Reminder, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Podcast
EVENT HORIZON crossed with TITANIC, ALIENS, and DIE HARD. Don't forget CONJuration next weekend and check out this podcast I'm on.
Back in September, I listened to an audio version of S.A. Barnes’ space-horror novel Dead Silence for book club. Sufficient to say I really, really enjoyed it, but I didn’t have the space to schedule a review until now.
Claire Kovalik, team lead on a manned ship intended to maintain the solar system’s communications network, is about to become obsolete. Verux, the megacorporation she works for, is going to transition this type of work to automation and owing to her PTSD and other issues resulting from being the sole survivor of Verux’s failed Mars colony as a child, has been deemed unsuitable for further work in space. Not looking forward to a desk-job sinecure for the next 30 years, she discovers a path to her independent freight-hauler dreams when her crew hears a distress signal from the Aurora, a space luxury liner that disappeared 20 years ago. Since the salvage rights would make them all rich, they set off after it.
Things get very bad when they get there — everybody on board is dead, often in truly hideous ways. And then they start hearing and seeing things. The Amazon page describes it as Titanic meets Event Horizon and that’s pretty apt.
*This is primarily based on the audio version, but narrator Lauren Ezzo is absolutely magnificent. She puts so much emotion into it that you really, really feel for the characters and root for them to succeed. I’m not the only one who noticed this.
*Claire herself is a well-done example of the Unreliable Narrator owing to the obvious psychological issues she’s got even before they get to the Aurora.
*The story includes all sorts of crazy twists and turns and they all make sense. Not going to go into more detail for spoiler reasons.
*The state of the future Earth isn’t info-dumped but sprinkled throughout in various ways and it’s not pretty — citrus fruits are grown in greenhouses, wood is rare and expensive, there’s a monument to a lost spacecraft in “what’s left of Grant Park” in Chicago, and the planet is ludicrously overcrowded.
*This really isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but there’s a strong case to make this two novels — imagine if Alien and Aliens had been combined in a single narrative. However, that’d spread the main character’s arc across two books (with a big cliffhanger at the end of the first) and there’s no guarantee there’d have ever have been a second one. The print book is also 345 pages — either both “halves” of the story would need to be significantly expanded or both books would be too short.
Definitely worth checking out, especially the audio version. 10/10, which is a review I almost never give. I hope they make this into a movie some day.
And if you like it, Barnes has another space horror book coming out in April, Ghost Station.
Don’t Forget CONJuration 11/17-19
Just a reminder that I’ll be at CONJuration, an Atlanta magical fantasy convention, next weekend. Not only will I be selling my usual seven books, but I will also be on five or six panels. Most will have to do with writing and publishing, but one will be about cryptids (think Bigfoot) in the Southeast and the other will be about Indiana Jones.
This isn’t my first time there, so if you’re one of the people who signed up last time, I’d definitely like to see you. Not only will I be on a bunch of new panels, but this will be my first time appearing with Serpent Sword, the new sequel to my steampunk military fantasy Battle for the Wastelands.
I’m on a Podcast About Battlestar Galactica
When I was a student at the University of Georgia (2003-2007) and a newspaper reporter afterward, the only TV show I regularly watched was the “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica. My older readers (or those who watched Sci-Fi Channel re-runs) might remember the original show from the 1970s — this is a much higher-budgeted and less campy version. It even inspired me to write my first fan-fic since probably middle school, “The Death of the Triton,” which tells the story about how the pilot Crashdown (Sam Witwer) escaped the destroyed battlestar Triton to join the Galactica and its refugee fleet.
(It turns out I’d gotten Crashdown’s actual name wrong — in the show he was referred to only by his callsign and so I just made something up. Perhaps I should go back and edit it.)
Well, I recently appeared an episode of The Blasters and Blades Podcast, which had already hosted me in the 100th episode on The Thing in the Woods and its sequel and the 247th episode on the Battle for the Wastelands series. In this new episode, we discussed both the original and the new Battlestar Galactica series, including the largely-disliked Galactica 1980 spinoff in which Adama leans hard into the Space Moses archetype and grows a beard. Here’s the Apple Podcasts link, although its available on other providers too. And here’s the YouTube video, in which you see all the panelists live and can watch me fidget.
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