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Ordinarily, he would be the one running towards the issue to fix it. Punctured hull, engine failure, comms problem—that was his normal fare. When the problem has a gun, well, that's when you find yourself a starship crawlspace and hide. At least until you figure out what to do. He was only lucky he had Silvers with him. Silvers was security, had his own gun and had so far kept them both alive.
Flashback: Lying on a couch in the tranquillity of the resuscitation suite, a cool refreshing drink and soft new skin. The colony fleet, having arrived within the target planetary system of Hayford b had begun waking its crews from stasis. The UTS Endeavour, UTS Indianapolis and UTS Intrepid were slowing for orbit and preparing for the colonisation effort. Only, the UTS Intrepid wasn't responding. Flashback: Dawn—the UTS Endeavour's AI—and Clayton, the ship’s captain, giving a briefing on the mission. It's a comms issue, Clayton had said. Fix the comms array and find out what's going on over there. And that's what they were doing. Finding out what was going on aboard the UTS Intrepid. Comms array? I can fix that, he thought to himself. He looked at Silvers taking an inventory: ammo, grenades, knife. He performed his own inventory: utiliplex multi-tool, utility belt, done. His heart sank. It was turning out to be more than your normal dangerous day as an engineer.
Tautly paced and confidently written, Tusk by Nathan M Hurst proves a roller coaster of a science fiction novel that has all the trappings of the genre whilst creating a notable emotive connection with its readers. Giving us just enough back story to establish the characters and the lead up to ensuing events, it’s relentlessly intense, one of the key strengths of "Tusk" being its deliberate pacing. It’s certainly not slow to start, but Hurst takes his time to build momentum, absorbing us first in the Hayford b mission before he involves us in the terror awaiting Larsen and Silvers aboard the UTS Intrepid. Reducing each chapter to its essence, he gives us just enough to contemplate it and fire our imaginations before moving on. The narrative is always clear, but readers expecting easy plot cues will be sorely disappointed with Hurst demanding our full attention throughout. It wouldn’t be disingenuous to say Hurst has his eye on the overarching Sol Protocol saga, but whilst he leaves us with the expectation of more to come he’s not an author to sell his readers short, being sure to reward them with a highly satisfying ending.
A strong debut and one likely to be well received by avid fans of the genre, Tusk rightly raises high expectations for future releases in the Sol Protocol series and is highly recommended.
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Nathan M Hurst was born in Southampton, Hampshire, but after extensive and excessive adventuring, settled near Epping Forest on the outskirts of London with his wife and young son. He has worked as a software developer and technical manager for many years whilst maintaining an avid enthusiasm for aviation and astronautics. Consuming science-fiction and adventure stories of all varieties from an early age his love for books turned into a passion for writing.