by John Graham
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

"A voidstalker was a lone wolf, there was no room for bonds of comradeship. If Gabriel were forced to choose between the squad and the mission…He would leave them all to die."

Perhaps Ray Bradbury was right when he said, “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.” That sentiment seems to be at the heart of most science fiction. If one accepts the incredible accomplishments, the extraordinary coincidences, the phenomenal capacity for birth, life, death, extinction, and regeneration on this world that we inhabit, then surely one must accept the proposition that wondrous things are therefore possible on worlds we don’t inhabit. Certainly, wondrous things are on full display in Voidstalker, a sci-fi novel that elongates the limits of its readers’ willing suspension of disbelief while keeping them anchored to very human ties that bind.

In a time beyond ours, Gabriel is a voidstalker—an elite protector of law and order. Highly trained, well equipped, and intensely motivated to complete whatever mission he is assigned, he goes where he is sent throughout an interstellar empire. Yet he’s also a family man, with a wife and children he frequently leaves behind to take on assignments from which he may never return. Such is the case with his latest task when he’s sent to investigate the loss of contact with a secretive research station. This time, however, it’s not just Gabriel who is in potential danger. His wife, Aster, works for a company with ties to the mysterious facility. Soon she is caught in a web of commercial espionage, unlawful business pursuits, and potential crimes that could rip her from her family and leave her imprisoned. From here, the author chooses to play out both stories in parallel, bouncing readers back and forth between the savage struggles Gabriel and his team face and Aster’s continuing descent into corporate chicanery.

Graham is a highly imaginative storyteller, adept at constructing cinematic depictions of spectacular battles and armed combat. His warfare and technology leap to life on the page much like the mesmerizing bullet time effects in the Wachowskis' Matrix movies. Here’s an example as he describes one weapon’s own self-defense mechanism: “…the gun wouldn’t fire. Instead, a set of microneedles, each as thin as a human hair, punctured the target’s skin, injecting a cocktail of specially-designed nanobots into his hand which began rapidly killing off nearby cells, before retracting again.”

While action sequences abound, the author has not given short shrift to character development. Gabriel, though virtually robotically committed to following his mission protocols, still harbors a self-sacrificing love not just for his family but for humanity as well. Aster has all the worries and frustrations of an often-neglected wife, yet her smarts, spunk, and self-confidence continually shine through. Secondary characters stand out as well, such as Gabriel’s scheming mother, Jezebel, an icy lady out for revenge and refunds. There’s Red-eye, the Director-General of Naval Intelligence, who seems to know all, see all, and, above all, keeps her own counsel. Gabriel’s squad is a wisecracking, macho-posturing collection of combatants you’d definitely want on your side in any kind of a free-for-all. Plus, there’s a vast array of often hideous, continuously compelling cyber-human guinea pigs, androids, and other assorted cosmic criminals.

In addition to action, interesting people, and a solid story, Graham’s use of language is impressive throughout. His descriptions of fantastic weapons and the vast emptiness of outer space are particularly memorable. If science fiction is your genre, venture into Voidstalker, because this is an author you’ll want to get to know.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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