cover image The Last Astronaut

The Last Astronaut

David Wellington. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-41957-4

Wellington’s terrifying exploration of near-future alien contact layers a shocking “what if” on the bones of current science and space exploration. Presented as a 2057 publication, the novel documents the encounter between the crew of the Orion 7, led by Cmdr. Sally Jansen, and the object dubbed 2I/2044 D1. Following the tragic events of the abortive 2034 Orion 6 Mars mission and the shuttering of the American space program, Jansen is largely retired. Then astrophysicist Sunny Stevens, a deep space researcher for a private corporation, makes the hugely significant discovery of 2I/2044 D1, an object that has altered course in an unnatural way and will come into alignment with Earth’s orbit in six months. He brings this knowledge to the remnants of NASA, and Jansen is called back into action as the most eminently qualified leader, despite her remaining guilt and trauma from Orion 6. Gritting her teeth, she gathers her crew and sets out to see what intelligence is driving 2I/2044 D1 and what it portends for Earth. Within its lightless depths, the crew encounter bizarre and nightmarish creatures, and the tension and body count ratchet up. Wellington (The Cyclops Initiative) creates a gripping story that reveals its horrors one inexorable, plausible detail at a time. Readers will be riveted—and will want to keep all the lights on. (July)