Review | The Echo – James Smythe

Review | The Echo – James Smythe

The Echo. What starts as a tale of space exploration quickly turns into a dark science fiction thriller with horror undertones, as a crew from Earth explores a strange anomaly in space.

Book 2 of 12 | Subsequent to finishing ‘The Echo’ I have discovered that it is a sequel to the 2012 book ‘The Explorer’ and part of a quartet of stories set in the same timeline. James Smythe is a London born author and creative writing teacher.

Author: James Smythe | Publisher: Harper Voyager | Year: 2014 | Fiction | Paperback

Set twenty years after the events of ‘The Explorer’, the crew of an exploration vessel embark on a mission to the Anomaly, an unexplained and expanding void on the edges of the solar system. Where the spacecraft Ishiguro and her crew had perished two decades previous, the Lara seeks to succeed in unlocking the mystery held within this wonder.

The story is told entirely in the first person from the perspective of Mira. Aboard the Lara, Mira will control the mission from space whilst his twin brother Tomas monitors from Earth. Each are equally responsible for every facet of the mission, from the design and construction of the craft that will travel to the edges of known space, to the carefully selected crew.

Opening with a sense of optimism, wonder and possibility, through the eyes of Mira we are introduced to a reluctant leader focussed on scientific discovery and disarming in his social ineptitude.

With the mission progressing perfectly, and moral high, the mood is tempered when long-range scans pick up the Ishiguro. Presumed destroyed and her crew dead Mira is shocked to discover that the once lost vessel is not only still powered, but it’s moving – and extraordinarily there appears to be at least one survivor.

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The Lara must alter course to intercept but trepidation sets in as closer inspection reveals the Ishiguro to be lying within the depths of the Anomaly.

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Book A Month 2018 – Book One

Read Will’s review of ‘Console Wars’, an account of the nineties battle for 16 Bit supremacy between SEGA and Nintendo written by Blake Harris.

Through cleverly deceptive writing, author Jame Smythe sucks the reader into a false sense of security before plunging them into a dark and terrifying series of events. With each page turned more is revealed about the crew and the unexplained occurrence in space, and whilst you sense that this parity can’t prevail, you simply can’t guess what’s coming.

A reconnaissance of the Ishiguro is marked by disaster. Casualties are claimed and the remaining crew are forced to come to terms with the true terror that lies beyond the frontier of the Anomaly.

No run of the mill science fiction story. ‘The Echo’ takes you into the unknown, where everything we think we know about time is erased. One by one the crew of the Lara are claimed by the darkness of the Anomaly where they are seemingly destined to live, and die, in perpetuity.

Through an easily accessible writing style, James Smythe has produced a gripping page-turner. I simply didn’t want to put ‘The Echo’ down as each chapter revealed more of this unique concept.

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Sadly the journey is more enjoyable than the destination as an ambiguous final beat left me unsatisfied. Regardless, ‘The Echo’ is a superbly dark, engrossing and scary sci-fi romp.

Four out of Five

‘The Echo’ takes you into the unknown. A scary science fiction romp. – 4/5

Book A Month

‘Book A Month’ is a challenge of sorts. In 2017 I decided I wanted to read more, my biggest hurdle was making the time. As a husband and father working a full-time and running The Unheard Nerd, there aren’t a lot of hours left in the day… except for those hours wasted on the daily commute.

With a potential 40 minutes available to me each weekday, I set myself a challenge. To read the equivalent of at least one book a month. Finding that I was enjoying the escapism afforded on the misery that is London’s public transport at rush hour, I began finding time elsewhere in the day to leaf through a couple of pages. On my lunch break in the park, for half an hour before bed.

Before I knew it I had closed the last page on my twelfth book before the end of August – and with a sense of accomplishment I continued my new habit and totalled sixteen books in the year.

In 2018 my goal remains the same as it was at the start of the previous year. Twelve months, twelve books. And so it continues…

Next month’s book…

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Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd