cover image Escape Velocity

Escape Velocity

Victor Manibo. Erewhon, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-64566-084-2

Manibo (The Sleepless) ingeniously melds genres in this suspenseful sci-fi mystery set in 2089. The opening chapter offers a tantalizing hook: Henry Gallagher wakes up to find himself tumbling in space, barely able to spot his previous location, Space Habitat Altaire, and unsure of how he got there. After initially calming himself with the thought that the Altaire’s orbit will eventually bring it near enough for him to reach, Gallagher panics when he realizes his space suit is out of propellant, leading him to suspect that someone deliberately tossed him off the space station. Just as his entire body is consumed with a burning pain, Manibo flashes back to Gallagher’s arrival on the Altaire for his 25th high school reunion, introducing classmates, such as Tom Lazaro III, an American ambassador, whom readers will immediately view as suspects. The whodunit plot is enhanced by careful and plausible worldbuilding that digs into the intricacies of an era when the UN’s Mars Settlement Agency is mere months away from accepting applications for civilian settlers. As in the best mysteries, Manibo never allows his plot twists to come at the expense of character development. Jack McDevitt fans will be especially pleased. (May)