Across the Void by S. K. Vaughn

May Knox floats in space, the only survivor of a catastrophic accident. There is just one person who can save her: a man whose heart she broke, millions of miles away. 

It’s Christmas Day, 2067.

Silent Night drifts across the ruins of a wrecked spaceship, listing helplessly in the black. A sole woman, May, stirs within – the last person left alive of a disastrous first manned mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter.

There is only one person who can help her – her ex-husband Stephen, a NASA scientist who was heading up the mission back on Earth. Until, that is, she broke his heart and he left both her and the mission.

Now May clings to life and it is only his voice travelling across the fathomless miles that can bring her home.

In this twisty, gasp-inducing thriller, when each breath is a fight for survival, their relationship is the difference between life and death.

Release Date: June 6th 2019

This book carries all the hallmarks of a sci-fi thriller which will keep you on the edge of your seat. May is the last person alive and was also the commander of the mission. The beginning of the book is when she is younger and sets up May’s character as someone who is a risk taken and pushes the boundaries.

The plot is intriguing and The Martian-esque. We have someone who is alone in the dangerous place that is Space. We also have Eve, the Hawking II‘s Artificial Intelligence system which ensures that the ship is running optimally and acts as a saving grace for May’s mind. Eve is not mono-tonally boring, rather she adds a level and sass to the narrative which makes up for the seeming lack of spark in May’s personality.

We also have Stephen, May’s ex-husband who, whether out of guilt or love for May refuses to give up hope on her safe return to Earth. He has to navigate through the trials and tribulations which May faces in her quest. This is despite interference from parties unknown to them. Their history is explored through flashbacks throughout the novel. These flashbacks are numerous and play a role in understanding May and Stephen’s past, particularly as a way to show the return of May’s memories from her amnesia.

The plot at this time, is messily constructed and still bares the obvious scars of a hasty rewrite. We have Eve named before she is officially named. Some of the flashbacks are shoe-horned in without a date, and personally I felt that these detracted from this space drama that was forming around us. Even the synopsis is messy. There is no Europe moon around Saturn, although there is a Europa orbiting Jupiter.

The character building is done well, we by the end understand the motivations of May, Stephen and Ian, even if the the deliver makes it easy to get bogged down in. In fact, Ian feels like a parody on Elon Musk.  A tech-giant who has an ego to match the scale of his business.

The vastness of space naturally lends itself to fast-paced survival stories, which is why movies such as, The Martian, Gravity, First Man, Hidden Figures and even Star Wars and Star Trek strike the imagination of the masses. The fear of the unknown lends to the romanticism that is space, the fact that every moment could be your last further adds to the gravity of any situation that that is encountered.

Comparisons to The Martian is inevitable. Mark Watney is an Botanist with enough smarts to survive and plan and plot a way to renew communication with NASA. In Across the Void we have May who has Eve to do and work out how to fix everything for her. May seems to lack a level of wit and skill that would come with being a traveller through space. If there was no Eve, May would definitely have perished. This somewhat dims some the sparkle that this book could truly have.

I would like to read the final edition of this book either before or on release, as it really is promising and could be an engaging thriller for a wide array of readers. Sadly at this time it is too convoluted to keep a casual reader engaged, I look forward to reading it again in its final form.

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