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The Explorer (The Anomaly Quartet #1)

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  1,040 ratings  ·  200 reviews
A tense, claustrophobic and gripping science fiction thriller from the author of The Testimony.

When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.

But in space, nothing goes according to plan.

The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dea
Paperback, 264 pages
Published January 2nd 2013 by Harper Voyager (first published December 20th 2012)
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Originally reviewed on Kirkus' Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog

He speaks about things he knows nothing about, inserting the names of galaxies and nebulae and words of description that mean nothing to him, flowery language to somehow offer the punctuation of meaning, to imply knowledge that he doesn’t have. If Emmy were awake she would tell me that I was being narcissistic.

It is the future. For the first time since the era of brave adventurers like Cook and Columbus, Armstrong and Aldrin, human
This book just didn't deliver. The book sounds amazing but it didn't impress me. I usually don't read sci-fi thrillers but The Explorer sounded dark and creepy and I loved the cover so I decided to read it.

I really thought that I had found a hidden gem with this book because the plot sounded awesome but I didn't really enjoy the book that much as a whole. There were a few moments where it was exciting and unpredictable but most of it was boring and predictable. It was so hard to concentrate on
Cormac Easton has been selected to be the first journalist in space, sent to document the flight of Ishiguro into deep space. When the crew wakes up from hypersleep they discover their captain died in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. One by one the rest of the crew died and Cormac was left alone; or so he thinks.

This is going to be difficult to review this book without giving spoilers; there are some big reveals within this novel that need to be left unmentioned. For those people that don’t
John Boettcher
Look, there are spoilers in this, I'm not even going to put up the little "Spoilers" thing in italics, it doesn't deserve it. If you don't want to be warned about this book, then stop reading HERE<=

This book is like the movie "Primer" in outer-space. Mixed with Groundhog Day. Mixed with the movie "Moon".

This is the most disappointing book I have read all year. Bar-None.

The synopsis of the book is ENTIRELY misleading. Just read the synopsis and prepare yourself to have the book be nothing lik
Why are some books so hard to rate? I can't even decide if this is a two or a four, so I'll settle on three instead.

Also, it's impossible to actually review this book without giving away a major twist (and it's of the kind one really shouldn't know about beforehand). Even saying there's a major twist is giving stuff away, but then, I spent the first part of the book actively wondering if what was going on was all that there would be or if something - anything - would actually, like, happen, so k
I’ve been vaguely meaning to read something by Smythe for a while. This doesn’t really encourage me: the idea is interesting enough, but my interest waned from the very first chapter, because the narration is so flat and lacking in affect. I couldn’t care less about Cormac (or indeed, the rest of the crew), and the science was inconsistent enough that it didn’t capture my attention as a novel of ideas, either. (I mean, be clear: are you or are you not breaking Newton’s laws of the conservation o ...more
So it's sort of ok. In the beginning it was enough to hold my attention. But now, not so much. I'm putting it down for now and will pick it up again if I can suspend my dis-belief. Mostly because I keep asking myself all sorts of practical questions. Things that might be considered spoilers, so I'll keep it mild for those who want to read the book. I can always change my review if I finish the book.

You see our "hero" is a reporter, on board to record this momentous historic trip. And then thing
Jan 21, 2013 Tom rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
1.5 stars.

I bought into the hype of this book being a smart, scary, science fiction thriller. Too bad it's neither smart, scary or thrilling. And the science isn't very good either. No qualms about the fiction part though. It sure is a ... story.

Other reviews (see for instance) have revealed the main plot point so I won't bother dancing around it here: it's Groundhog Day in space. There, now you know. That gets revealed about 20% of the way into the book anyway, so i don't get why some p
Timothy Ward
Reviewed for SF Signal

REVIEW SUMMARY: This book keeps you engaged and interested from page one.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A journalist joins a team of astronauts on an expedition to the farthest point in space humans have ever traveled. The mystery that awaits is more dangerous than trying to reach it alone.

PROS: Fascinating story; empathetic and beautiful struggle of an explorer separated from his family; epic, outer space anomaly leaves the reader burning for more
CONS: The mystery is not comple
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

When the chance of a lifetime to travel to outer space presents itself to journalist Cormac Easton, he jumps at it, even if it’s to the detriment of his marriage. After all, it’s not every day that you get to travel to space, and he figures things will work out once he returns home. There’s only one problem. His entire crew (with the exception of one woman) is dead, leaving him alone in the ship. When the book starts, Corm
Nathan Robinson
The Explorer by James Smythe

When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.
But in space, nothing goes according to plan.
The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the miss
Cormac Easton is a journalist. A journalist left on a space-ship where his crew has died; all alone, contemplating the end. What happened isn’t really the question, they died in mundane ways, things that happen in space. In a vacuum.

First off, I absolutely loved this book, gripping and clever; it kept me up reading late into the night. Set in the not too distant future, the technology is on the edge of possibility. The spaceship setting has an eerie, claustrophobic feel. For as much as space is
John Xero
The Explorer is a decent enough read. It has one major idea, and the whole plot hinges about it. Fortunately it's a great idea, not wholly original, but well-executed, for the most part.

In the spirit of my ongoing half stars, I think I would actually go for two and a half stars, raised to three because the writing is good, and thus the book is very readable. The plot, for all its potential complexity, is actually conveyed in a fairly straight-forward fashion, and given the fallibility of the nar
Scary or suspenseful stories that take place on spaceships freak me out a lot. For me, the setting is claustrophobic and alien and just generally makes my skin crawl. But I'm always drawn to them and always have to watch the show or read the book. This one was well worth my small anxieties.

This story is more suspenseful than scary. The mission for the people on this ship is to travel the farthest any human ever has and then turn around and travel back to earth. Cormac Easton is the ship's journ
I really enjoyed reading The Explorer. I found the story very intriguing, especially that it's a fictional story. The author portrays each character in a beautiful way. Cormac is one of the main characters in the story and as you read along you get more attached to his personality. At first you would think that Cormac is this nice respectable man but later on you discover that its on the contrary. I think that only a clever writer can convince you to like or dislike a character . The fictional p ...more
The Explorer isn't published until January next year and so a review will follow on FWN closer to the time, but James Smythe has surprised me. The Testimony is one of my favourite books of 2012 and yet here he has done something completely different - although still with the same powerful atmospheric oomph - but it is every bit as good. This time, though, we are in Space and it's at its most claustrophobic and dark. Incidentally, what a fantastic cover.

The review is now up http://forwinternights
Roy Elmer
Sam Rockwell could play Cormac Easton; the lonely man with the clone in space. The Explorer could be Moon, or 2001, or Event Horizon, it's a homage to the sub-genre of isolationist sci-fi, deeply reminiscent of its forebears, and yet a little different at the same time, and genuinely good.

Smythe starts in a predictable fashion, the crew are dying one by one, the ship is falling apart. I sort of expected an Alien / Slasher flick vibe; ninety minutes worth of terror, followed by one survivor at th
I'm giving this 5/5 for several reasons:
1.) It got under my skin, in the same way House of Leaves did. That black, that void, the loneliness... nopenopenope.
2.) The narrative structure was brilliant, I thought. Very well done.
3.) The pacing was great, and the revelations of plot points kept me hungry for more. There are a lot of books where I enjoy the prose, and the characters are entertaining, but I could put them down and never pick them back up again. This book was not one of them. I HAD
And so, as I began to write in my comment at the end of the book, this feeling Smythe leaves us with, as if he's revealing so much of the story to us from the very first pages, while STILL leaving us feeling like truly, we know's GREAT! What a new and refreshing feeling.
It was a wonderful space mystery. I'm excited to know there are sequels out there waiting for me. I agree with another reviewer, who wrote that not one line in this book feels like it was placed there accidentally,
Rob Damon
264 pages - it could be much shorter.
No exploring takes place in this book. I was hoping for some interstellar space travel where the character would get to explore lots of amazing things, but it seems the ship didn’t even make it out of the Solar System.

There was no logic to the story. A group of carefully selected astronauts (and a journalist) were sent into deep space to look at nothing. The idea of the mission being that they wanted deep space to be seen from human eyes seems like a poor jus
If you asked me, and I've no reason to suppose that you wouldn't because I'm fairly anti-social and all your attempts at conversation would meet with bored glances until you got onto the subject of books at which point I would become sufficiently enlivened to answer the questions you would surely be asking if you weren't concentrating quite so hard on backing away slowly, I'd tell you I don't like sci-fi books. I don't know why I think this because I can't think of a sci-fi book I haven't enjoye ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
After the first chapter, this novel could have really gone "where no one has gone before". Unfortunately, even if it's not a bad novel, it's only a darker and grittier episode of Star Trek.
I found this book very difficult to read. Within 52 pages, the reader knows what happens. The rest of the book is explication and a rumination on death.
Matthew Willis
The first thing to get out of the way is that this novel isn't a work of science fiction. Once that is understood, it's possible to approach The Explorer as a work of contemporary fiction, but it's easy to assume on the basis of the space travel theme that this is SF, and therefore judge it differently. The Explorer has no interest in getting scientific details, even the basics of Newtonian mechanics, correct, and cannot be described an exploration of scientific ideas. Only on a very vague defin ...more
Last year I really enjoyed Smythe's sci fi novel The Machinist so thought I would give this a go. I don't ususally read Sci Fi , perhaps put off by the idea of other worlds and galaxies , perhaps I lack the imagination to truly sail off into other worlds , however I loved this book. The plot is based upon a space programme to send a spaceship out to the further edges of space , beyond anywhere other ships have gone. Privately funded the mission's aim is to recapture the world's wonder at space t ...more
Here's my beef with suspense-y or horror science fiction: it always involves space mining. If you dig into that uncharted planet's soil, you know what's going to come out? Face-eating aliens, obviously. Suspense-sci-fi is a weird sounding subgenre with too much punctuation, but I really like it. Case in point: The Explorer.

The Explorer reminded me a bit of Duncan Jones' film Moon or the video game Dead Space. Both are creepy SF stories that just happen to involve mining at some point. What is mo
This a really hard book to review. I don't want to spoil anything but at the same time I want you to know how complex and finely detailed this book is. James Smythe is a incredibly talented writer. The plot is very intricate and complex but it's finely woven to form this sci-fi masterpiece.

The Explorer follows Cormac Easton, a journalist, who was one of the very few people on earth picked to go up into deep space. Once the crew wake up in space, they find their captain dead. One by one the crew
Aoife Roantree
'The Explorer' is a thrilling and unsettling read. Cormac Easton is a journalist who has been chosen to accompany a remarkable new expedition into space. As a precursor to a manned mission to Mars, the purpose of this expedition is simply to see how far into space it is possible for the current technology to get, and come back with lots of new data. In order to get as far into space as possible, new propulsion systems have been introduced to make the initial take-off many times faster and more ...more
Danish Meman
*light plot spoilers*

An interesting concept that is well written. However, I have to question the actions of the main character and why he was compelled to do them. I also found that there is an issue with he timeline (if one thinks back to the original actions, beyond those described in the book). I'd love to discuss them so please message me.

Other than that, a depressing read as it conveys the fractured and solitary existence of a man lost in time and space. I remained riveted to the end. The
Barbara Walker
In order to understand THE EXPLORER, you've got to read this book word for word, otherwise you will get lost and lose the story line. You see, if I could do a spoiler alert and ignore the warning I would definitely tell you my thoughts on this suspenseful science fiction novel. I know one thing... I wouldn't want to be shipped into outer space, especially if there's a possibility that the events transpiring like the book would happen in real life. You have to read deeply into the story, it was w ...more
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The Readers: Book #13; The Explorer - James Smythe (Sept 2013) 2 32 Aug 24, 2013 06:17AM  
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Other Books in the Series

The Anomaly Quartet (2 books)
  • The Echo (The Anomaly Quartet, #2)
The Machine The Echo (The Anomaly Quartet, #2) The Testimony Way Down Dark  (The Australia Trilogy, #1) No Harm Can Come to a Good Man

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