It’s the perfect score—stealing valuable data from a VIP in cryo-freeze midway through a decades-long interstellar crossing. If it works, Kara will have enough money to buy what she’s always wanted—a Captaincy.
But with the rest of the crew and the cargo of one hundred thousand colonists still frozen, Kara and her accomplice, Zed, realize they’re not the only ones awake. The murdered woman they find is only the first victim of whoever or whatever has woken from Cold Sleep…
I’m a huge fan of Luke Hindmarsh’s MERCURY’S SON and 3:33. He’s an underrated science fiction and horror writer which get combined here for an especially good story. He’s so far only done standalones and I don’t think that’s going to change with this series but I’d like to see him take a crack at a series. Either way, I’m glad he sent me a copy of an ARC because I really enjoyed reading this from cover to cover in two days.
The premise is that Kara is a somewhat sociopathic navigator onboard a sleeper ship that is heading to a colony in order to spread humanity out among the stars. Kara and her boyfriend, Zed, are professional criminals that are planning on robbing a corporate bigwig while he’s asleep. Kara thinks this will get her promoted to captain or owner of her own ship while Zed rather stupidly thinks she’s planning on settling down with him.
What follows will be familiar to anyone who is fan of the classic video game System Shock or System Shock 2 as their decision to upload a virus they were assured would be harmless proves to be the apparent stupid decision it was. Horrific changes are reported in the nanotechnology upgrades of their highest level passengers and things just get continuously worse. I’d also say it reminded me of Dead Space but since that game was inspired by System Shock, it feels a bit redundant.
At its simplest, Cold Sleep is a sci-fi zombie book. That doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly entertaining for what it is, though. The heart of every horror movie is whether you care for the characters involved and Luke Hindmarsh is extremely good at developing his doomed characters. Kara, the star, is ironically the most unlikable as she’s the kind of person who would be a villain in your typical cyberpunk story. However, that makes her a refreshing change as one of her earliest actions shows that she’s willing to do just about anything to survive. It makes her unpredictable and helps elevate the story’s content beyond the cliche.
Luke Hindmarsh also makes some interesting sci-fi exploration of concepts like AI, hive minds, transhumanism, and other issues you wouldn’t think would get touched on. At the end of the day, it’s still about making cybernetic monsters out to kill or assimilate the passengers like the Borg but it’s a far smarter book than it had to be. This intelligent thinking through of the implications makes it function as both a science fiction as well as a horror novel, helping the book be more than the sum of its parts.
If I had one issue with the book, it’s the fact that the author chose to write Cold Sleep in the present tense. Given Charles Dickens wrote in the present tense and the Hunger Games, this isn’t a bad thing but initially threw me. I can understand why the author did so, though, because that provides a sense of unpredictability to the events going on as they happen. It also influences the end that I feel was very strong and I won’t spoil in the slightest.
In conclusion, Cold Sleep is another great addition to Luke Hindmarsh’s library and an excellent horror lit story from Crossroad Press. If you like survival horror, this is an “adult read” for things like Resident Evil or Silent Hill IN SPACE. The characters are likable, the world-building consistent, and the concepts are interesting. If it’s not a 5/5 and classic of literature, it’s certainly a 4.5/5 with no complaints.