Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Finished reading Eliot Schrefer’s “The Darkness Outside Us” which is a gripping and thought-provoking science fiction novel that masterfully blends thrilling space exploration, an intricate mystery, and a deep exploration of human emotions. With its well-crafted characters, intricate plot, and evocative writing, Schrefer takes readers on a captivating journey through the cosmos and the human heart.
The story unfolds on the Sagan-2, a spaceship on a mission to make contact with the Sanghinian species on the distant planet Korrath. Two young astronauts, Ambrose Sefarian and Kodiak Malachi, find themselves at the center of the story. Ambrose, a diplomatic officer, and Kodiak, a military specialist, have never met before but are entrusted with the critical task of representing Earth to the enigmatic Sanghinians. As they navigate the treacherous waters of politics and diplomacy, their relationship deepens, leading to unexpected personal revelations.
What sets “The Darkness Outside Us” apart is the rich characterization. Schrefer delves into the psyche of Ambrose and Kodiak, skillfully exploring their fears, secrets, and desires. The tension between the two protagonists creates a palpable atmosphere of suspense, and the novel’s first-person narrative, alternating between Ambrose and Kodiak, adds depth to their inner struggles. Their evolving dynamic forms the emotional core of the story, as they confront not only the mysteries of the universe but also their own hidden truths.
The novel’s sci-fi elements are equally compelling. Schrefer introduces a world where artificial intelligence and technology intermingle with humanity’s yearning for connection and understanding in a universe vast and mysterious. The portrayal of the Sagan-2 and the mysterious occurrences on board is filled with suspense and intrigue, making the reader question what is real and what is imagined.
While “The Darkness Outside Us” is a beautifully written and engaging novel, some readers might find that the pacing occasionally lags in the middle section. The story’s intricate plot can be demanding, and some may desire a more rapid progression. Nevertheless, Schrefer’s lyrical prose and emotionally charged character development keep the reader invested in the narrative.
In summary, Eliot Schrefer’s “The Darkness Outside Us” is a thrilling journey through the cosmos that explores not only the mysteries of space but the even deeper mysteries of the human heart. This is a novel for readers who appreciate thought-provoking, character-driven science fiction. While the pacing may be a bit uneven at times, the story’s depth, engaging characters, and intricate exploration of human connection make it a worthy addition to the genre. Schrefer has proven his versatility as an author, and “The Darkness Outside Us” is a testament to his talent for storytelling in the realm of science fiction.