“Space is meant to be what we aspire to.

We are, by our very nature, a people who explore…”

– The Explorer by James Smythe

 

 

 

 

But while the “human” element was interesting, the premise of the story was hard to swallow. This historic first manned deep space mission, which must’ve cost billions of dollars, serves no real purpose other than to “inspire” humankind: “to show the people of Earth that we – as a race – were able to take ourselves further, to push our limits, our scope…”

 

 

The mission isn’t really about discovery or inspiration, it’s about creating an entertaining drama – and, ultimately, mass manipulation.

 

 

“Space is meant to be what we aspire to. We are, by our nature, a people who explore. It’s in our blood. We go back to the times before maps and we just explored whatever we could, in search of something better – better land, better food, better shelter. We follow that line to nomadic peoples, to Vikings, to the Romans, and we explore everything. We discover America, and find that it’s already been discovered; we travel the globe and we plot maps that prove there’s no edge to fall off, no horizon carved with a blunt knife. We went to the Moon to prove that we could, and we did it as soon as we were able to. We watched ourselves from up there, and we saw that we were exactly who we thought; a people overreaching, stretching ourselves. We explore, and we stretch what we’re capable of. It’s in our nature.”

 

Strangely enough, it’s the science fiction elements where this novel about deep space exploration is the weakest. The potential was there for this to be a cynical, visionary masterwork but, like the image of the astronaut helplessly floating in space on the novel’s cover, something went wrong along the way.

 

“Ground Control, we have a problem…”

 

But that said, I would still recommend this novel. Although it's a weak science fiction read, it is a compelling psychological thriller.

 

 

Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.

Comments
by Jvstin on ‎01-16-2013 10:38 AM

Sounds like a "Take that" aimed at Solar System Science Fiction.  Hmmm.

Advertisement

Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.