The Explorer tells the story of Cormac Easton, a journalist who has been selected to take part in a major piece of space exploration, the only civilian in a crew of specialists on the good ship Ishiguro, though I suppose he’s a specialist in his own way as his job is to document the journey, interview the crew, put a human face on an expedition that’s partly designed to re-start humankind’s adventures in space after an earlier disaster and partly to investigate a phenomenon known only as the Anomaly.
Of course Things Do Not Go According To Plan, and it’s clear that there are deaths among the crew from the very beginning of the trip. But what’s going on?
Why did I want to read it?
I absolutely love sci-fi so this was always going to be of interest, but I would have missed this title if Simon at Savidge Reads hadn’t written an intriguing review, and of course once I’d read that I had to get the thing, didn’t I?
What did I think about it?
I absolutely loved this! It’s relatively short novel and I read it in two sittings which included staying up until 2am on a Sunday morning so that I could finish it. I was so desperate to find out what had happened to Cormac’s crewmates and of course what was going to happen to him; would he survive and if so how?
I sometimes find first person narratives difficult but the central idea in this story, the thing that happens in the middle when you think you’ve got it figured out and then suddenly WTF? was so engrossing that I didn’t experience my usual qualms.
I don’t want to talk too much about the plot; as mentioned above there is the Thing That Happens which for me turned the story around and it’s worth experiencing that for yourself. In terms of tone (first person storytelling, expedition gone wrong, something not quite right with the whole set-up) it made me think of The Annihilation which I also devoured earlier this year, and which, like The Explorer, is the first in a planned series.
I also thought afterwards about 2001; there are some similarities in that it’s an expedition going off to investigate something and it all goes wrong, but there is no HAL here, this is all (mostly) people stuff and it’s the relationships in a confined space that really push this along.
I loved it so much that apart from losing sleep to finish it I bought a copy for Silvery Dude (it’s the sort of book you want to share with people you know will appreciate it) AND discovered that the sequel had already been published so that was downloaded swiftly, but more of that anon.
If you love sic-fi I’m sure you’ll enjoy this, and even if you don’t it’s a very effective creepy thriller and well worth giving a shot.