In November I reviewed the fascinating breakthrough novel not alone, by indie author and relative newcomer Craig A. Falconer. While not his first novel, it was the first to receive wide attention, so I looked forward to his second release with great anticipation.

Title: Terradox
Author: Craig A. Falconer
Narrator: Dina Pearlman
Published: March, 2017 (ebook), June, 2017 (audiobook)

Terradox tells the story of a group of people traveling from Earth to a station around Venus. Their ship runs aground (so to speak — it’s the right term) on what appears to be a previously unknown planet that was not visible until the ship passed through some sort of barrier. The stranded passengers spend most of the novel running around the surface putting pieces of an interplanetary mystery together.

That’s a terrific premise, and the book starts off very well. Unfortunately it descends quickly into very predictable storytelling, complete with sneering villains, pointless chases, and emotional chest-beating. There are some interesting settings and a couple of plot developments that were briefly fun, but the whole reminded me far more of the vintage airport novels of Michael Crichton than the independent, ground-breaking originality I had come to expect following Not Alone.

Regarding the audiobook, Dina Pearlman is competent, with clear diction and accurate pronouncation. But she feels like the wrong choice for this material. The main character is stated to be American, but Pearlman plays her with a strong UK accent, as do all the other characters. I don’t know if that’s because of the intended audience or because the reader wasn’t able to do other accents, but either way it felt off.

Still, this is not a BAD book, and I recommend it for light, summer vacation, “airport” reading, mainly due to its brevity (11 hours, or 550 ebook pages). It’s a fun trip through some interesting SF ideas, and Falconer does a good job paying attention to the details and not stumbling over the science. Credit where it’s due, and I still look forward to Falconer’s future efforts.