Rob Boffard’s second entry in the Outer Earth series is a taught, menacing cosmic thriller, with more than a hint of Judge Dredd about it. Package-toting tracer turned humanity-defending stomper Riley Hale attempts to immerse herself in the somewhat straight-forward life of protecting the humans of Outer Earth, a gargantuan satellite acting as humanity’s sole refuge ever since the Earth’s destruction. However, her life is thrown in jeopardy when she becomes blackmailed into breaking a lethal prisoner out of jail to avenge a mad doctor’s own desires. Riley is left with few options, but must somehow balance her forced breakout mission with saving all life on-board the Outer Earth at all costs.
What sounds like a run-of-the-mill sci-fi adventure delights the reader in being a riveting, claustrophobic tale full of suspense and intrigue. Boffard pulls out all the tricks of the thriller handbook, and stuffs Zero-G with as much heart-stopping action as possible, all written with a graceful pace that never lets up, but also never loses focus or hook.
Those who haven’t read Outer Earth’s first instalment, Tracers, will still find much to enjoy here and won’t become lost through continuity. Zero-G may spin out of the events of Tracers, but it’s still a fairly standalone story, one who’s grim heroics result in an intoxicating read. That grimness that spreads throughout the novel, page after page, may just be a tad off-putting to some readers, as Zero-G, for all its riotous exploits, doesn’t find a lot of time for humour.
However, that lack of humour doesn’t make Zero-G any less of a wonderful novel. It’s packed with blood-curling excitement that’s wrapped up in a writing style full of charm, as well as a deft handling of keeping the reader’s attention. Zero-G is just about everything sci-fi Hollywood blockbusters wish they could be, but ultimately fail to be, making Zero-G as vital as it is entertaining.
ZERO-G / AUTHOR: ROB BOFFARD / PUBLISHER: ORBIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW