• Rhonda Allen

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes



B+

Part science fiction and part horror. Alien (the movie) meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both deal with a creeping sense of dread as well as the almost claustrophobic atmosphere that this book projects. It starts in a present time (for the book) of the year 2149 where Claire Kovalik is being questioned about a mission where her crew were thought dead. Claire can't remember what had happened 2 months previously when she and her beacon repair crew had picked up a distress signal and decide to investigate. What they find when they investigate in an area of space that is at the very limits of their range, is shocking. It is the Aurora, a luxury liner that had disappeared on her maiden voyage on a tour of the solar system nearly 20 years previously. The salvage rights would make everyone in her crew fantastically wealthy, so she decides to risk it. What they happen upon is a seemingly abandoned ship, void of crew or passengers with no visible explanation. As they explore they see strange flickers of movement, messages that have been scrawled in blood, a last video message that seems to show a madness of violence that had overtaken those on board. The horror and dread build up, though (one of my pet peeves) very slowly. Due to too many flash forwards to the interrogation and accusal of Claire that she had killed off her crew in order to get all the salvage money, the momentum (and horror) are sometimes lost even though momentarily. A good read for those who enjoy a dose of science fiction along with bone chilling horror.

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