Reviewed by Scott Cahan
Random Walk by Rachel Lulich is a hard science fiction novel with heart. It effectively balances scientific detail with characters that are easily relatable and likable. The story follows a three-person crew of astronauts as they attempt the first manned mission to Mars. Though the astronauts are the number one focus of the book, the crew on the ground play an equally important role. I won’t give away the plot but suffice it to say, things do not go as planned and the crew of the Pioneer finds themselves in some serious trouble. As soon as things started to go wrong, Random Walk reminded me a little of one of my favorite hard sci-fi novels, The Martian, in the way human ingenuity and teamwork become paramount to the survival of the astronauts.
Readers looking for a Star Wars type of tale filled with good guys and bad guys fighting it out with space weapons will be disappointed with Random Walk. This book’s main concern is to paint a complete picture of the astronaut’s world full of claustrophobic spaces and hi-tech equipment. Readers who enjoy an immersive experience, based on the real-life experiences of real astronauts, will find much to love with Random Walk. The “heart” that I alluded to earlier refers to the people that Ms. Lulich has created for her story. She does a good job of making them human and showing us how the harrowing plot affects them. As much as I enjoyed reading about the technical side of this ill-fated mission to Mars, it never would have worked without the rich characters that are present in Random Walk. Ms. Lulich did an excellent job of balancing the human element with the technical details. For that reason, Random Walk works extremely well and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.