I’m a sucker for stories about someone all alone in the endless expanse of space. I’m also a sucker for stories about someone all alone in the Arctic, or in a spooky house, or in any kind of setting that is unsettling. But we all know that alone in space wins hands down, so for this Sci-Fi Month post, let’s talk about unforgettable ‘Isolated in Space’ stories. Please feel free to comment with your own recommendations (seriously, give me all the recommendations!) 🙂
A journalist joins the crew of the ‘Ishiguro’, the ship built to undertake Earth’s first deep space mission, recording events as they begin to spin out of control. Mysterious deaths, isolation, seemingly inexplicable events that may indicate a descent into madness – The Explorer, the first of the quartet, has it all. To say more would be a massive spoiler but I loved this book. Everything mentioned in the book blurb happens in the first fifty pages, leaving the reader as untethered as the main character. The story continues in The Echo which follows the crew sent to find out what happened to the ‘Ishiguro’, and it’s not long before things start to go wrong, despite their best preparations. Honestly, this series doesn’t get anywhere near the level of attention that it deserves. The two books that have been published so far can be read as stand-alone but are so much richer when read in order. Read them. You won’t regret it!
A serious of video games, Dead Space (mostly) follows Isaac Clarke, an engineer on the ‘Ishimura’, a mining ship that finds itself at the mercy of creatures called Necromancers. Isaac is one of only three survivors and finds himself having to repurpose engineering tools to destroy the reanimated corpses of his former shipmates. Survival horror, psychological thriller, almost-zombies – what more could you ask for? As it progresses, the universe of Dead Space becomes richer and richer, giving us peaks into how humans live in the 26th Century. Dead Space 2 is easily one of my favourite games, combining a rich science-fiction setting, a character who is traumatised by the collapse of his way of life, and genuinely terrifying scenes.
This movie, you guys. It doesn’t get a lot of love and even I have to admit that it’s not the most subtle movie in the world, but it’s really freaking good. The ‘Lewis and Clark’ is dispatched to find out what happened to the ‘Event Horizon’, an experimental ship which has reappeared on scanners as inexplicably as it disappeared seven years ago. Upon boarding, they discover evidence that the crew turned on each other before killing themselves in increasingly horrifying ways. As they try to figure out what happened to the Event Horizon, they become more and more suspicious of the ship’s designer, who joined them for the mission and who definitely seems to know more that he’s letting on. This is a full-on horror movie, but there’s some solid science fiction underpinning everything.
Honourable mentions go to Good Morning, Midnight by Lily-Brooks Dalton, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (movie-wise, I much prefer 2010: The Year We Make Contact, but that’s a discussion for another post), and Gravity.