Written by: Myra Gabor
There’s something amiss on the good ship Orion. That something is a killer who is waking the mining colonists from their deep sleep and then killing them.
Faith Cadena awakes groggy and makes her way to the command center when none of the crew answers her calls. She’d like an explanation for why she is up when she can see sleepers in the other hibernation tubes. As she makes her way through the ship she sees signs of a struggle in the common room. Suddenly a man lurches towards her with a blade in his chest and dies at her feet. She can’t help him and goes on to explore the crew quarters, where she finds more dead. Another man, Harker, the new head of security for the mining colony, appears holding a gun at her back. He takes her to the bridge where she is met by several suspicious people. They don’t know what happened to the crew but they suspect her of having something to do with their disappearance. They also inform her that she hasn’t been asleep for the expected one year, but for five years and that the ship has been off-course all that time.
The real killer taunts them and, as they search for him, he manages to kill them one by one. Before he dies, one of the new colonists comes across a state-of-the-art lab where he finds people who have been dissected before he himself is caught and is put on the operating table. It seems that the doctors aboard the vessel have been given carte blanche by the mining company execs to experiment on the colonists in order to make them more efficient workers. The doctors also make the ship’s computer more proficient in order to help them in their aim of improving human workers. The mining company execs have realized that no one will miss the colonists or be able to help them when they do go missing.
When Harker and Faith are the only ones left, they come face to face with the superhuman killer construct. They don’t know what else to call this computer enhanced former human. The two hold diametrically opposing viewpoints. Faith wants to survive by taking the last shuttle off the ship. Harker wants to destroy the construct and disable the artificial intelligence in order to save the remaining colonists.
The action scenes are so exciting that we forget that the author is tackling a serious subject. This could be the road genetic engineering is on. And he shows us what could happen if artificial intelligence becomes sentient.
This is a mystery wrapped inside an action yarn wrapped inside science fiction. It’s a cracking good read.