Deep Light

Dennis Martineau

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 346 Price: (paperback) $20.99 ISBN: 9781663248145 Reviewed: March, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Dennis Martineau’s debut novel is a page-turning fusion of science fiction adventure and cosmic horror set on a remote space station, whose crew is developing a device that can create controllable black holes and, ideally, glimpse into the darkness within.

The Deep Light device on the Parallax space station is just hours away from increasing to full power and going live. Fifteen years in the making, the brainchild of Commander Ian Philips is about to—in theory—produce a small black hole that humankind can look into. But when a shuttle arrives with an International Conglomerate for Expeditions and Explorations (ICEE) agent—allegedly there to simply observe—Philips realizes something nefarious may be afoot. After crew members begin being brutally murdered, Philips must discern if conspirators are attempting to sabotage Deep Light, or whether something much more horrific is happening.

The blueprint here, while formulaic, works well: A group of characters are trapped in a fixed location while something, or someone, murders them one by one. Martineau understands what fuels this kind of narrative: relentless pacing, nonstop action, and bombshell plot twists.

But there are also notable flaws. First and foremost is the lack of significant character development. Describing each characters’ hair color and height (which the author does almost obsessively) is superficial at best; there’s little internal examination and/or backstory, and none of these characters are three-dimensional or emotionally connective.

Also, while the utilization of dark humor works well in the novel’s beginning as the action builds, it detracts from the story’s impressive level of intensity at the end. For example, just after three crew members are gruesomely killed, a character quips: “Talk about a cleanup in aisle one.” This callousness and lack of compassion make these characters even less identifiable and sympathetic.

Nonetheless, Deep Light is a pedal-to-the-metal, action-packed science fiction adventure. Despite its flat characterizations, its compelling plot should largely satisfy fans of adrenaline-inducing deep space thrillers.

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