"Alien" Read-Alikes | Sf/Fantasy, June 2019

Fans of The Martian and Mary Robinette Kowal’s "Lady Astronaut" series will be enthralled; Wallace delivers an exciting sf thriller that shines a light on government secrets, shifting blame, and elitism and class in a future society

Vaughn, S.K. Across the Void. Skybound. Jul. 2019. 384p. ISBN 9781501181344. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501181368. SF
When Commander Maryam "May" Knox awakes aboard a ship, she has no idea who she is. Memories slowly surface, and she realizes she’s on the Hawking II, a vessel she was captaining on a research mission to Europa. On her way to the Jupiter moon something happened that killed her entire crew, left May in a medically induced coma, and caused an inevitable failure of the ship. With no immediate memory of what happened, she must find a way to communicate with Earth for her survival. Except that Earth does not think she lived; NASA has not heard from Hawking II in weeks, and her husband, Dr. Stephen Knox, is mourning their near-dead marriage and her presumed death. When by chance May finds a way to get in touch with NASA and Stephen attempts to get her back, it’s a race against time. How do you save a loved one when it seems external forces both on the ship and on Earth are determined to stop a rescue? ­
VERDICT Vaughn ( Time Runners) is a pseudonym for an accredited film writer and director, which explains the tight prose and Hollywood-style plot. Fans of The Martian and Mary Robinette Kowal’s "Lady Astronaut" series will be enthralled.—Kristi ­Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

Wallace, Kari. Salvation Day. Berkley. Jul. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781984803696. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781984803702. SF
Zahra wants a new life for herself and her younger brother and sister, far away from the deaths of her parents and the people who destroyed them. A plan, orchestrated by her leader, Adam Light, promises a new home for them in the stars. The exploration vessel, House of Wisdom, sits deserted after a virus killed almost everyone onboard a decade ago. Now, Zahra and her team plan to take control of the spaceship and lead their people home. All they need to do is kidnap the sole survivor, Jaswinder Bahttacharya, and use his genetic signature to sneak onto the ship. However, their plans begin to deviate off course almost immediately. When they finally board, the truth behind the abandonment of the vessel is one they never saw coming. Among the dead lies a sleeping secret, one that they will inadvertently wake. ­
VERDICT ­Wallace (The Memory Trees) delivers an exciting sf thriller that shines a light on government secrets, shifting blame, and elitism and class in a future society. The tight plot and well-­developed characters create an engrossing read.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton

These reviews were originally published in Library Journal's June 2019 issue 

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