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Book Review

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Across the Void (Hardback)


Author: S.K. Vaughn
Publisher: Sphere
469 pages
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 0 7515 6822 6
Publication Date: 06 June 2019

When May awakens aboard the Hawking II her disorientation at being spat out by a medical cocoon is worsened by the state of the ship. In disarray and with apparently no other survivors, May's amnesia means that she finds herself lost in space with no recollection as to how she got there…

Across the Void (2019. 469 pages) is the first science fiction novel from S. K. Vaughn, a pseudonym, apparently for an author of internationally bestselling thriller. Not sure why an established author would feel the need to hide, you would have to ask J. K. Rowling on that one.

Right off the bat the book has a number of issues as a science fiction story. Vaughn spends an inordinate amount of time with the narrative swinging back and forth between the present and the past as May slowly starts to regain her short to medium term memory.

Much of this involves her husband and the end of their problematic relationship. Obviously, with May in trouble, her husband will stop at nothing to rescue her but she just can’t work out why she does not feel complete happiness every time she sees him. Vaughn slowly peals back the days which run up to the ship's launch.

The problem is that if you don’t actually care about their domestic arrangements, and I count myself amongst that group, then the endless back and forth only interrupts May’s fight for survival. May is a good character, even if she gets in and out of scrapes more times than Matt Damon in The Martian. This part of the book does read very much like The Martian as they both have that survival, at any odds, vibe.

The one thing that I just could not get past is that once you find out what has happened to the ship, it turns out not only was the antagonist right, it’s something that was probably discussed and written into their emergency procedures. Once the cat is out of the proverbial bag May and Co become less plucky heroes as narcissistic, willing to chase survival regardless of the potential cost to others.

There was little compelling in the story which meant that it had to be set in space. Apart for some Dues ex Machina, this got rid of the problems of distance and speed. May could just as well have been trapped at the bottom of the sea or down a well.


Charles Packer

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