One of the main themes in the Revelation Space series is that of the Melding Plague, a cyber virus infecting the delicate nano circuitry of the implants people installed in their bodies, changing and re-shaping these implants into new configurations and negatively affecting the wearer. In this story, a group of wealthy refugees from Yellowstone – one of the planets that were hit hardest by the plague – has taken to space in suspended animation, in the hope that the century of so of their travel away from the homeworld will allow scientists to find a cure, so they will be able to get back to their lives. The ones less fortunate have either decided to place themselves in cryo-storage or to have the implants surgically removed.
Uri Sagdev is one the six crewmembers aboard ship whose stasis can be lifted should there be an emergency, and the ship does exactly that at the beginning of the story, interfacing with Uri through the likeness of his wife Katia: once Uri is over the worst of the revival process, the ship informs him that one of the other crewmembers was infected by the Melding Plague before departure, although the problem was undetected, and that Uri will have to operate on him to remove the altered implants before it’s too late: not even cryo-sleep is able to stop the infection and the man might die if they wait too long.
As Uri walks the deserted ship to get himself in better shape prior to the surgical procedure, however, he becomes increasingly aware of another presence – an impossibility, of course, because he’s the only one awake and mobile and there is no chance that a stowaway might have been hidden aboard for so long, without the basic means for survival. Still, there is definitely a shadowy presence haunting him…
Dilation Sleep is an edge-of-your-seat tale that will keep you guessing until the very unexpected reveal, a mix of science fiction and borderline horror that works very well and seems perfectly suited to this time of the year… 🙂