Title: Deeper Into The Void
Author: Mitchell A. Duncan
Pages: 296, Paperback, Kindle
Reviewed by: S. Marie Vernon, Pacific Book Review
Author, Mitchell A. Duncan has created a most tantalizing, sci-fi and psychological fiction with Deeper Into the Void. With his pen, he launches The Reconciliation, a freighter spacecraft, carrying a highly specialized crew and me to the foot of Olympus Mons - the largest mountain range on the red planet, Mars. Landing safely, Captain Cardiff and her team set about their mission. There are two main objectives for the crew: Test sustainable life conditions to ensure humanity‘s future and find out what happened to the first team who vanished from there some time ago. On the surface, the mission appears successful as an ecosystem is attempted, as soil and rock samples are taken, as the pond is tested and plant life is growing. Positive reports are sent back to earth, but the answers as to why the first crew went missingdo not surface immediately. In fact, with each passing day, the new team begins to experience bazaar happenings and each one, secretly worries, wondering if they might be losing their grip on reality. This believable mystery, Deeper Into the Void, has enough drama and suspense to come in at four-stars*, but will need a re-edited book to keep the reader focused on the story and not distracted by the many missing and wrong use of words.
Earth’s resources have become scarce and it cannot survive more than two decades. Industry and government defense depends on finding a new frontier with needed space for large buildings, new materials for production, and strong capabilities for the industry expansion with lowered cost. Badlands Defense Corporation has spent billions on cutting edge technology and travel to Mars after the Prometheus Group built a power station called the Dome. With the Dome in place, Badland’s scientific teams have traveled there to test living conditions to prepare for the eventual civilization of the red planet.
Captain Cardiff and the second team have arrived at the Dome. There seems to be no explanation for the missing first team. They simply vanished, but their experiments continue to thrive, so this team picks up where they left off; collecting precious stones, taking water samples and releasing bees to pollinate fruit trees. Progress logs are kept by each person. They report their findings to earth, as objectively as possible. They leave out what they cannot yet explain. They do not confide their insecurities to each other, instead proceeding as professionally as they can, to do the work they came there to do. The ever-prepared Captain Cardiff finds herself unable to prepare for an enemy she cannot see, hear, or touch, except as a nightmare; the psychologist begins to question her own sanity while attempting to evaluate the mental stability of her teammates. The wise one, eventually, wonders if he can convince the others what he has discerned about the sinister experiences they have all had, but cannot explain what is happening. In the end, will he be able to convince them of a dark, malevolent, reality that exist among them, or will he be dismissed as just another scientist gone mad?
Deeper Into the Void is written in present tense. This gave me a first-person view and experience of the mystery, as it unfolded. This kept my senses peeked for each developing scene and adventure. Also, the author’s background in psychology allowed for psychological depth, unanticipated in popular science fiction. As a result, I felt personally acquainted with each of the crew members as they pioneered the possibilities for life on Mars. I was left anxious to go even Deeper Into the Void and hoping Mitchell A. Duncan was already working on a sequel to his, suspenseful and mind-bending creation.
*Three and ½ stars without a re-edit of the book, missing and misuse of words are distracting.