Three Astronauts. One Impossible Journey.
Derek Williams, Jacob Mendez, and Vicky Abrams have trained for years to helm the first manned spaceflight launched by US Air Force Space Command. The Pioneer’s mission is simple – test the experimental new Hawking Engine, designed to take them to Mars faster than any manned craft has traveled before. But when the engine reaches full capacity, the craft unexpectedly hurtles into the unknown.
With power levels falling and communications offline, the crew must face the unbelievable truth – The Pioneer is lightyears from Earth in uncharted space. Far from the safety of their simulators and support from Ground Control, Derek, Jacob, and Vicky are challenged to the end of their abilities to keep the ship safe – and survive long enough to find a way home.
I occasionally read out of my normal genres, and a recent excursion brought me to the hard science fiction novel Random Walk (Fractured Galaxy Book 1) by Rachel Lulich. I would classify the read as a very thrilling and enjoyable trip. One clear out of the solar system. :) Basically, it's a modern day Apollo 13 with a black hole instead of the dark side of the moon. Enough said, right?
Random Walk tells the story of three US Air Force Space Command astronauts, Derek Williams, Jacob Mendez, and Vicky Abrams, as they test an experimental engine on a flight to Mars. Things go wrong, of course, and they travel much farther than they thought possible, or wanted to go.
The book started a little slow for me, but then I wasn't used to hard science fiction, but once I got used to all the detail, I began to enjoy it. The research was spectacular, and I feel like I know what it's really like to be an astronaut or to be in mission control (this part really made me think of Apollo 13 and Hidden Figures).
I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, and have always been a science nerd, so I enjoyed the realism and science of it. I also like the diverse array of characters, the clever solutions, the awe of being in space. There was tension with the troubles they found themselves in, a realistic amount of interpersonal getting-on-one-another's-nerves (which we can all relate to, especially during quarantine) but nothing overly dramatic, and some exciting danger. I don't want to say too much so I don't spoil anything, but I've very much looking forward to the next book.
If you like hard science fiction or want to branch out and read something different, check out Random Walk (Fractured Galaxy Book 1) by Rachel Lulich.
Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
Random Walk is a work of fiction in the science fiction and action/adventure sub-genres penned by author Rachel Lulich. The opening novel to the Fractured Galaxy series, this story balances both the wider implications and dangers of space travel with a very human story about the three people who find themselves trapped and against all odds of survival. When Derek, Jacob, and Vicky test an experimental engine and it flings them clean out of the solar system, tensions run high as they search for an impossible solution which might enable them to make it back to Earth safely someday.
Hard science fiction fans will find much to enjoy in the work of Rachel Lulich, who has clearly done a great deal of research into the real-life trials and tribulations of space travel and the mechanics of spacecrafts themselves. Alongside this atmospheric, detailed and factual depiction of a proposed space disaster, there is a magnificent display of the human spirit and human ingenuity from the author’s three central characters. Derek, Jacob, and Vicky are intricately developed, more than one would expect from a science fiction novel of this nature, and it's that commitment to emotional realism which gives the work a higher level of engagement with the reader. When this is coupled with a well-crafted plot that takes us through the beats of every moment of an imminent disaster with seemingly no hope of a solution, we find ourselves immersed in a truly complete and satisfying science fiction read. Overall, I would certainly recommend Random Walk to both hard science fiction fans and interpersonal drama enthusiasts alike.
Random Walk by Rachel Lulich is a hard science fiction novel with heart. It effectively balances scientific detail with characters that are easily relatable and likable. The story follows a three-person crew of astronauts as they attempt the first manned mission to Mars. Though the astronauts are the number one focus of the book, the crew on the ground play an equally important role. I won’t give away the plot but suffice it to say, things do not go as planned and the crew of the Pioneer finds themselves in some serious trouble. As soon as things started to go wrong, Random Walk reminded me a little of one of my favorite hard sci-fi novels, The Martian, in the way human ingenuity and teamwork become paramount to the survival of the astronauts.
Readers looking for a Star Wars type of tale filled with good guys and bad guys fighting it out with space weapons will be disappointed with Random Walk. This book’s main concern is to paint a complete picture of the astronaut’s world full of claustrophobic spaces and hi-tech equipment. Readers who enjoy an immersive experience, based on the real-life experiences of real astronauts, will find much to love with Random Walk. The “heart” that I alluded to earlier refers to the people that Ms. Lulich has created for her story. She does a good job of making them human and showing us how the harrowing plot affects them. As much as I enjoyed reading about the technical side of this ill-fated mission to Mars, it never would have worked without the rich characters that are present in Random Walk. Ms. Lulich did an excellent job of balancing the human element with the technical details. For that reason, Random Walk works extremely well and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.