Friday, 8 May 2020

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater
Published in the UK by Organic Apocalypse on the 31st October 2017.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She's been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there's no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She's just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa's intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Having enjoyed reading Karl Drinkwater's novella, Helene, back in March I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to read two further full length novels of his, set in the same universe. Lost Solace is the first of these and I shall also be reading its sequel, Chasing Solace, in the next few weeks. Lost Solace was published two years before Helene and it shares Drinkwater's effective scenario of a woman alone with only an AI intelligence for company. Opal has stolen a spaceship and is on the run, but initially I didn't know exactly what she had to escape from or the significance of this Lost Ship. Drinkwater doesn't fall into the trap of slowing his stories with unwieldy info dumps, instead he deftly weaves the necessary background information into the narrative by way of characters' brief memories or conversations. I appreciate this prose style because it allowed me to always feel in the moment, discovering this strange environment alongside Opal.

The relationship between Opal and the AI, Clarissa, is well portrayed with both characters feeling like genuine women - not always a given in this kind of science fiction novel! Their dialogue has a good ring of authenticity which enabled me to also easily accept the bizarre scenarios aboard the Lost Ship. I believed in both Opal and Clarissa so was convinced of the truth of what they saw. I loved Drinkwater's lifeform inventions for the ship. Nothing is ever fully explained so I always had an unnerving sense of not knowing what was around the next corner, even while vividly detailed descriptions meant I could clearly envisage each tense scene. I was gripped throughout Lost Solace and read much faster than I had intended to because I couldn't put the book down! The storyline incorporates familiar elements such as one renegade being sought by a military presence, but the themes are cleverly twisted and reinterpreted so Lost Solace felt wonderfully fresh and original. I don't generally read a lot of sscience fiction, but I'm impressed with this series and am eager to continue into the next novel.

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  1. That sounds like something that I would enjoy.

    1. It's an unusual genre for me but I was really impressed with Lost Solace :-)

  2. We love when we have genuine female characters in genres where they are not often portrayed properly! I am glad you could enjoy that in this novel. I also like the sound of it not being an info dump and that you were able to slowly gather the information needed through the narrative and dialogue.

    1. Exactly! Lost Solace that good female-centred scifi can be written so there's no excuse for other authors not to!!