The Lonely Dark by Ren Warom, Fox Spirit, 2014, £5.99 p/b, £2.50 Kindle, Website
Reviewed by Shona Kinsella
The Lonely Dark is a novella that immediately catches the eye with its striking cover art courtesy of Daniele Serra.
It tells the story of Ingmar a woman who, seeking to escape the pain of her past, agrees to become a cerenaut, her mind separated from her body, in control of the spaceship Irenon. Deep space travel has been abandoned for years after the AI Danai went mad. The Institute believes that they have solved the problem with the cerenauts, combining the best of both human and AI.
Ren Warom took a bit of a risk with this story as it happens almost entirely within the confines of Ingmar’s mind. There is very little action or even dialogue but this unusual approach works very well. We journey with Ingmar through the experience of being separated from her body, into the dreams of ‘rest’, the cerenaut version of sleep, and we are by her side as faces the all-encompassing loneliness of space. We are drawn into Ingmar’s deepest experiences; we are fully with her in her anxiety as she comes to understand the last warning the Danai gives to her: Stay away from the lonely dark.
That may be Danai’s advice to Ingmar but it is not my advice to you. If you have a chance to pick up a copy of The Lonely Dark, I recommend that you do.