SpaceMan - Tom Abrahams
Spaceman was a decent post-apocalyptic speculative fiction novel. I hesitate to call it science fiction because it very much seemed based in the right here and now. This book felt like it could happen tomorrow, with no adjustments needed to push the tech forward or back. I think the Martian has ruined me for any astronaut stories for a while, though. Because when one of my fellow reviewers mentioned this was kind of a cross of The Martian and Post-Apocalyptic work, I went into it with the expectation of much snark and geekery. Instead what I got was a more serious tale of human pluck.
The more serious note of Spaceman isn't a bad thing. It's just not what I was expecting, and I think I did myself and the book a disservice by going into it with a certain set of expectations. Regardless, though, Tom Abrahams does a good job of telling the story of Clayton Shepard on the ISS. The steps that Clayton must take, the surroundings, and his frequent internal monologs all are believable. Considering the situation the poor guy is in, he does a remarkable job. Abrahams keeps the viewer aware of how close to losing it Clayton is without ever actually overdoing it.
The author also does a good job chronicling the first few days after the solar storm, and how everything would play out. The chapters with Clayton are set against chapters talking about what is going on with his family down on earth. Both the tale of his wife and daughter, but also the separate tale of his young son, who was in a slightly different situation when everything happened. His wife and daughter are not quite as interesting as Clayton is, but they feel very real. His son is pretty much a nonentity. A character that's present only to allow the author to tell the tale of another set of adult characters.
There is a good bit going on, but readers don't have to worry about keeping track of a lot of stuff. The novel covers only a handful of days after the initial event that throws everything into chaos. This is only part one of a planned series, so it's really more of an introduction to the characters than anything. That, and the tale of Clayton trying to find a way to get back to his family, of course.
The pacing is decent. The dialogue is appropriate. You easily find yourself rooting for Clayton. The author wisely doesn't spend a lot of time burdening the reader with frivolous details. In terms of how it weighs up against other post-apocalyptic works - Clayton's struggles aside - it's not horrible. It doesn't exactly shine with originality, but it's not forgettable either. Clayton's struggles definitely make the book.
My favorite part of listening to Spaceman was the narrator. Kevin Pierce does a fantastic job reading post-apocalyptic works. There's just something about the soothing tones of a grandfatherly voice that make you want to sit in rapt attention. The timbre of his voice makes up for the lack of range, because he simply doesn't need to be able to do a lot.
Overall, I enjoyed Spaceman. Just not enough that I'll actively seek out more of the series in the future. However, I am definitely open to listening to more of Kevin Pierce's narration in the future.
I think if you liked the idea of The Martian, but were intimidated by all the science and such, Spaceman might be more your speed.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the narrator for review consideration.