“Dawn of Procyon” is the first book in the “Distant Suns” series where a lonely mechanic on a very distant planet lives away from the front lines of a raging war between the Humans and the Argoni. The book is written by Mark R. Healy and the audiobook edition is narrated by Travis Baldree. The main character’s life, job, and activities are boring, that is until he finds himself in a rather harsh predicament requiring his every wit to survive. During his journey, back from the crash site, he unearths what may put him and the entire human race at risk. Will he survive, and even if he does, is it too late for the human race to defeat this powerful and unrelenting foe? If you are one who likes well written survival space stories with a few great twists and surprises, I think you will find Dawn of Procyon a fresh new series. Note that the book ends with a cliffhanger and most of the plot lines appear to be resolved in the remaining book of the series.
I can best describe the book as a mixing of Aliens, some from The Martian, a dab from Enemy Mine, and a dash of Silent Running. The writing was quite descriptive, but not overly so. The book opens with some suspense and tension, and then jumps backwards to prior events filling the reader in with all leading up to it; and beyond. Even though the book is mostly a drama, the author does include a fair amount of humor in the right places. I laughed out loud as he was discussing Gaffer (duct) tape and how it is the solution to every woe. No matter what the circumstances, this seemly magical tape always comes to the rescue. The main character often banters with his traveling AI (Harry) companion, and all Harry wants in life is to be loved. Even with much of the story focused on one’s survival and somewhat light-hearted, there are some scenes that really caused an emotional reaction. I liked where these were placed as they often helped bring me back into the story. We learn about the main characters lives by way of flashbacks and I thought the author did a decent job giving the book’s characters three dimensions and you will find you actually care about them.
The alien race is one that we get only a glimpse at, but I have a feeling they will become more prominent in future books. The author does provide enough of whet one’s whistle, but I would have liked to have had much more information on them. I found myself as some points feeling sorry for how humans have treated them, while at others I could see why they needed to be destroyed. For me, it was a conflict that was difficult to resolve; and that is OK. I believe it was having a slight view into their struggles that had be feeling this way. I liked their means of communication and how it affected those they spoke with. I will say that I was very happy with how the story progressed and how it was revealed. It felt very well thought out and not disjointed as others I have read. For those wanting a comparison with The Martian, this book is much less technical but I felt the characters were more complex. So, if you are looking for deep science fiction with technical details, you may find this book light on that aspect. But, this does not mean it is a bad book. Far from it. It is just different, and tells the story in a distinctive way.
Let me turn to the narration of the book. It appears from a look on Audible that Travis Baldree is a newer narrator to the platform with a total of seven book; at the time of this review. Don’t let that bother you as all of his rated books are 4.5 or 5 stars for performance. I found the audio of the book very well done and I cannot recall any specific issues I feel worth mentioning. He was able to use inflection giving the times of suspense, emotion, and action their own color. If I was to request one area of improvement, it would be in voicing the female characters. Even though the female characters did not sound like four-year-old children (which is a good thing), the narrator did give them a bit lower voice than I would have liked. To be honest, I prefer the way he voiced them in this book than the first with screechy voices. I also understand how difficult it can be for a male narrator to properly voice main female characters.
For parents and younger readers, be aware that the book contains a few vulgar words along with some very high-level sexual references. These are few and far between, however if you are one that stays away from books that have such material in them, you may not want to pick up this book.
In summary, this is a space survival drama that include suspense, intrigue, and survival. The voicing is solid and the book had only a few slight grammar issues. I found the book quite enjoyable and would have liked to have had the second in the series ready when I finished this one. Hopefully it is in the works and will be released soon.