REVIEW: THE DARKNESS WITHIN / AUTHOR: SAM STONE / PUBLISHER: TELOS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Sam Stone has been carving her own niche in the world of horror literature since her debut novel, Killing Kiss, in 2007. The Darkness Within marks her first foray into the world of sci-fi. It is a perfect fusion of traditional horror with a science fiction setting. Literally, zombies in space. The setting is the future, aboard Freedom, a colony ship, the second of the Ark line carrying fertile humans to populate new terraformed worlds while the Earth, now as barren as those left behind, is left to wind down its existence.
Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as smoothly as planned, and a routine maintenance spacewalk finds a truly repugnant parasite brought on board and accidentally allowed to thrive. The parasitic worms which feed on the hapless victims from the inside are transmitted by intimacy initially – and what better breeding ground than a spaceship full of potential Adam and Eves whose mission includes procreation? Worse, on a spaceship in the middle of… well, space, there’s nowhere to hide, especially as the parasite seems to evolve and, although it can’t survive direct contact with air, can manage quite well in drinking water. The odds are against the Ripleyesque chief engineer Madison Whitehawk if the human race is to survive.
It’s a fast-paced story that doesn’t let up from the opening paragraph, with sharply defined characters. In its exposition and scene setting, it comes across like a film that John Carpenter would’ve made back in his late '70s/early '80s heyday, and we can think of no better compliment to pay the book.