by James Smythe
The Explorer, James Smythe's second novel in as many months, in a taut exercise in claustrophobia. Its tightly-wound plot and suffocating landscape brim with intensity and strangeness.
A journalist, Cormac, joins the crew of a ship that is going to the farthest reaches of space to explore some anomalies. When they wake up from cryogenic sleep, the members of the crew all die out one by one, leaving only Cormac, who has to try and piece together what has happened to his cabinmates and what exactly is this thing they are searching for.
The book explores Cormac's increasingly maddening relationship with loneliness, with the members of the crew immortalised in the video diaries he has been keeping of them, and the people he left behind. His tangled web of relationships with the crew is slowly revealed as his mind and body battle each other to see what survives first. Like Moon and like Alien, this film brilliantly dissects the fear of nothingless and that in space, no one can hear you scream. It's science fiction but it's also very, very human, a perfect crossover between 'literary fiction' and 'science fiction' - a book that does away with genre snobbery and tells you a taut tale of being lost in space.
Publisher: Harper Voyager