Read an extract of The Explorer

In space, nothing goes according to plan…

Fans of SF will love our first book from James Smythe. When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers. But as soon as the crew emerge from hypersleep, things start to go terribly wrong and soon Cormac finds himself alone and spiralling towards his own inevitable death … unless he can do something to stop it.

Here are just SOME of the quotes we’ve already had in for it:

“Beautifully written, creepy as hell. The Explorer is as clever in its unravelling as it is breathlessly claustrophobic” Lauren Beukes, Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author of Zoo City

“Dark, cold, claustrophobic, and oh so very scary. The Explorer is literary science fiction at its blackest best” Adam Christopher, author of Empire Stateand Seven Wonders

“The Explorer is smart, scary and seductive. Like its protagonist, it explores the queasy strangeness of space-time, and puts the reader at the heart of a tale of watching and fearing that comes off like a collaboration between Hitchcock and Heinlein. Excellent stuff” Lloyd Shepherd, author of The English Monster

Read a short extract below or head over to James’ Facebook page to read more…

One of the first things I did when I realized that I was never going to make it home – when I was the only crew member left, all the others stuffed into their sleeping chambers like rigid, vacuum-packed action figures – was to write up a list of everybody I would never see again; let me wallow in it, swim around in missing them as much as I could. My name is Cormac Easton. I am a journalist and, I suppose, an astronaut.

Part of my job on the ship was to be in charge of the communications with home, taking video and writing updates, sending them back to Earth directly. There wasn’t a guarantee of how long any of the broadcasts would take to get there – if they got there at all, as far out as we were, what with the chance of interference – but it was something. It was how I had been sending all my reports, but I assumed that they’d know what to do with something more personal, that they would pass it along. The list was deep. Elena was at the top. I had missed her before we’d even left. On the days leading up to the launch I had been trying to get hold of her, leaving messages, telling her how I felt, because what screwed us up was this, my job, this trip; and I wanted to see if, when it was all over, we could try again. There’s always hope, that’s what they say. As soon as I worked out that there wasn’t ever going to be that chance for reconciliation?

It became something else. I wasn’t missing her any more: it was despair, maybe, or another word for when you fall apart, when you can’t cope, when it all crumbles. I hid my feelings from my crewmates because I didn’t want to ruin their trip, didn’t want to bring them down. That went into my messages.

I told Elena that I missed her, and that I would always miss her, and that, if there was a God, we would see each other again someday, even though I didn’t believe that. It just felt right to write it, in case.

Some other people that I’ll never see again: My parents, my mother and father. My parents are – were – teachers. My mother left my father in the late stages of their lives, postretirement, and he decided to cut himself off from me completely. In books, they say that familial rejection is often a direct result of one’s coping mechanisms, but I think he had been looking for an excuse. We barely ever got along, and when he disappeared, he really disappeared. No phone call on my birthday, no letters, nothing. It’s been over five years since I’ve seen him. He might be dead for all I know. Sometimes that’s what I assume. It’s easier than explaining what really happened. My mother died six months ago, something to do with her heart, and my father didn’t come to the funeral, or call, or anything. I had a cat as well, though he was missing when I left, which was typical – a packed suitcase on the bed usually meant a holiday, and he went off and hid somewhere, unforgiving of us for abandoning him. It was bad enough with Elena gone, frankly. My friends, though they all lived elsewhere, kids and jobs and the breakup with Elena dividing us. And then my crew: the crew that I came out here with, that I started this journey with.

My crew died in bits and bobs, dribs and drabs, up here, with me. My crew: I was never really a part of them, even after all the training, because they knew more than me, technical things. This trip relied on them to happen. I was chaff. Civilians never fit in completely; those people had been training their whole lives. I was here for PR purposes; they were here for the science. I would argue that I was here for the adventure, as well, for the sense of exploration: they would understand that, I think, but I can’t tell them that now. They died one by one, falling off like there was a checklist. First to go was Arlen.

Want to know what happens next? Head over to James’ Facebook page and like the page – the more fans he gets, the more extracts we’ll release!

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