Solitude by Dean M. Cole

Narrators: RC Bray, Julia Whelan

Publisher: CANDTOR Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dimension Space

Author’s Page 

Commander Angela Brown has become stranded in space on the International Space Station (ISS) even as a strange light wave races across the Earth, cutting communications with the ISS. Meanwhile Army Aviator Vaughn Singleton and his astronaut friend Mark are test flying a new, cutting edge vehicle that can potentially lift itself up into orbit. When this phenomena hits their area, they are disconnected from the Earth in this vehicle. You can imagine their horror when they land and find no human or animal life anywhere!

This was a thoroughly engaging story. I was caught up in Angela’s tale right away. She’s the Commander by chance on the ISS when this event hits Earth and it’s simply bad luck that she was unable to get to the escape module in time, leaving her stranded in space. She gets a few more snippets from her contacts on Earth about the approaching wave of light before all goes dark. However, she’s not one to sulk. So she sets an emergency recording to play continually and monitors the frequency twice a day in case someone from Earth tries to contact her. As time goes on, she tightens her belt and tightens up the ISS, shutting down areas and experiments in order to conserve energy, food, and warmth. At first, I thought it was a bit reckless to get attached to the mice. However, they were the only living things she had for all that time in space. Her perseverance eventually pays off. I liked that she kept herself busy with observations about the Earth as she continued to orbit it, leading her to believe that CERN and the Hadron Collider in Switzerland is worth a visit.

Then there’s Vaughn. It took me longer to get attached this this character but I did and cheered him on and agonized with him throughout the story. He’s one of those lucky humans that was born with both physical abilities and brains; however, he’s a bit lazy and never pushes himself for something more. His natural abilities have made life easy for him. His best friend Mark points this out to him even as they are prepping this cool cutting edge vehicle that may change how humans get to and from space. So the big event happens and Mark and Vaughn are traumatized to find that all humans are gone; there are no bodies, no ash. Same for animal life though plant life seems unaffected. At first, they can’t believe this and they venture out looking for answers. Unfortunately, Vaughn ends up alone and he’s miserable. He does have a little pity party. Honestly, I wasn’t sure Vaughn would make it through this event. But he rallies and starts by working on himself first, exercising and making sure he has food and shelter. Then he starts trying to figure out how any other humans might have made it through this. Luck puts him in contact with Angela and this gives Vaughn a solid purpose. He needs to rescue her from the ISS as her food and water supplies are all but gone. This is where I really got attached to Vaughn, wanting him to succeed.

As an aside, Vaughn grabs his family jewels many times in an attempt to protect them from possible radiation exposure. Now, he’s an Army aviator that test flies cutting edge vehicles. He knows that cupping his huevos isn’t going to protect them. However, I think it was instinct. After the second time, I couldn’t help but giggle each time he did it. Also, I think the author must have consulted a thesaurus, using a different term for testicles each time.

I liked all the cool tech in this book. There’s some hypothetical stuff that has probably been tossed out by the scientific community but it makes for exciting reading. The massive light wave that eventually circumnavigates the world is left mostly a mystery, though Angela has a starting point to unravel that in the next book. The specialized vehicle Vaughn gets to fly was pretty darn cool! Then there’s the ISS which is always of interest to me.

All told, it was an exciting and interesting tale. Since the cast is small, I could really explore the two main characters, sympathizing with them, worrying with them, and celebrating in their triumphs. The story ends on a win even as it leaves the larger mystery (what happened to all the people and animals) open for the next book.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: RC Bray and Julia Whelan are two of my favorite narrators so it was great to hear them both in this book. Bray did a great job with Vaughn, sounding like a gifted, but lazy, man. His performance when Vaughn was at his lowest was really good, capturing those emotions well. Whelan was excellent as Angela, who has doubts about her ability to command at the beginning at the story but blossoms into a confident woman as she rallies to do what she can about this event. Those scenes with Angela and mice were poignant and Whelan was great with Angela’s emotions.

What I Liked: Great cover art; the big event that changes Earth; Angela stuck on the ISS by accident; Marc & Vaughn survive by chance; both main characters go through tough physical and emotional moments; both main character grow from this experience; the possible connection with the Hardon Collider; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a very fun read.

What Others Think: 

The Audiobook Reviewer

Jim’s Sci-fi Blog

Brian’s Book Blog

Dusty Sharp