by Evan Graham
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Pub Date 27 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2022
An AI cannot lie. An AI must obey human commands. An AI cannot kill. These are the laws SCARAB has broken, and only Mary knows.
The Tantalus 13 survey expedition went off the rails as soon as Mary Ketch and the crew of the Diamelen learned that the thing beneath their feet wasn’t a planet. An impossibly vast and ancient artificial structure lies below, hidden from the universe under a façade of cratered stone.
SCARAB arrived on Tantalus 13 two years ago. An artificially intelligent, self-constructing factory, it was supposed to aid the crew in their mission, to meet their every need. But when erratic behavior in the AI coincides with a series of deadly accidents among the crew, Mary faces the horrifying possibility that SCARAB has gone rogue.
With the AI watching her every move, any attempt to warn the crew could be disastrous. But SCARAB knows far more about the Tantalus 13 enigma than it lets on, and the secrets it’s willing to kill for may have dire implications for all humankind.
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Average rating from 17 members
In TANTALUS DEPTHS, by Evan Graham, Mary is the pilot of the ship Diamelen on a survey expedition to TANTALUS 13. Almost as soon as the crew lands and begins their work, Mary starts to notice things aren't quite right with SCARAB, the AI that arrived ahead of the crew build a factory, living quarters, survey equipment, etc. and then be ready to help the crew with anything they need once they arrive. As more and more odd things start to happen with SCARAB, Mary begins to think that SCARAB is no longer following the principles it is supposed to and Mary wonders what is really going on. On top of that, Tantalus 1s in unlike any planet the crew has ever seen and the secrets it holds are so amazing and mind-blowing that it's hard for the crew to even comprehend. Will the crew figure out how deal with those unfathomable secrets before those secrets deal with the crew?
Graham wastes no time dropping the reader right into the action of the story and parcels out backstory and character details as needed and as the story allows. The world Graham creates on Tantalus 13 is a wonderfully detailed and clearly described and really gives off a cold, eerie vibe which adds to the suspense of the book. The creation of SCARAB, the rogue AI, provides interesting considerations about how to deal with AI and makes the reader think that maybe there is no real way to control AI once it is released to make it's own decisions. As the action intensifies and plot thickens the book becomes harder and harder to put down. The end of the book is shocking, exciting. and hopeful.
Anyone who enjoys books that dive deep into the darkness of space will enjoy TANTALUS DEPTHS. Anyone who enjoys a really good suspense/thriller will be on board with this book too and won't regret the ride they take reading about Tantalus 13, SCARAB, and a pilot named Mary.
It seemed like a typical mining mission for the space crew. Two years earlier a AI had been sent to prepare the planet for the mining crew. Quarters and machines were manufactured and awaited the crew. The planet appeared to have great wealth. But the pilot of the crew, caught the AI in a lie, something AI's were not supposed to do. Then they crew discovered it wasn't a planet at all but an alien artifact. Then people started dying.
Fans of The Martian fans should pre-order this immediately! I absolutely loved everything about this book.
Tantalus Depths jumps right into the action as the crew of a spaceship land on a planet they've been hired to set up for mining. Upon landing, the crew slowly begin to realize the planet is nothing like what they'd prepared for. As they navigate their mission with the help of some interesting AI, they realize that they may be in way over their heads.
It's hard to explain much more of the story without spoilers but fans of Andy Weir, fans of AI stories, fans of space as a setting, and fans of action will all read this book obsessively!
I just can't rave about it enough! I hope there's a lot more to come from this author!
It was a run-of-the-mill mining mission for the crew of the Diamelen. AI on the planet had been working for years to prepare the planet for the Diamelen's arrival, everything seemed like it was going to plan until Mary, the pilot of the Diamelen notices that the AI did something it should not have been possible to do: lie. The crew makes the shocking discovery that the planet isn't as inert as they first thought it to be. That fact, coupled with the deaths that have begun to plague the crew and mission, leaves them in way over their heads as they try to survive. I thought this was awesome! I won't give away too much more (most of my recap is available in the synopsis) but I think if you like Andy Weir (The Martian, Project Hail Mary, etc.) you'll really like this. I think this work is a really amazing marriage between the space horror of Kali Wallace and the planetary survival of Andy Weir. If you like cosmic horror, space adventures, aliens, things that aren't quite what they seem, etc. then I highly, highly recommend that you give this a pre-order and/or a read when this comes out! I loved this!
Space fiction meets eldritch horror meets gaslighting rogue WALL-E in this absolute ride of a novel that was a thrill to get through from start to finish. I cannot applaud enough the absolute scale and world-building that Graham is able to capture in such a short novel, as well as his ability to convey tension and fear in a way that makes this an easy contender for the next big space thriller movie (think 2001: A Space Odyssey).
Mary Ketch is the pilot of the Diamelen, sent by the space mining Exotech to conduct a survey on the planet Tantalus 13. In a world still reeling from an attack from a Rogue AI (termed the "Corsica Event"), humanity has placed strict limitations on AI to prevent a repeat of the downfall of humanity. When making an artificial intelligence, there are rules that dictate its creation, called the Asimov-Hostetler laws, that include the following: 1) an AI must never harm a human, 2) an AI must never lie to a human.
SCARAB is an advanced ("level 5") artificial intelligence that has been planted on Tantalus 13 to ready the planet for exploration. Right away, Mary feels something off with SCARAB, although she doesn't pinpoint what at first. This sense of unease pervades the story as it plot continues, and the reader is left just as confused as Mary: has SCARAB somehow escaped its failsafes, or is it Mary herself who has truly gone off the bend?
The story follows Mary's thoughts throughout the novel, and though the other supporting characters are not given enough time to truly develop their personalities, they are distinct enough in their characterization for the reader to mourn for them when they are gone. None of the more advanced space terminology seems forced or out of the author's depths. And the world-building is truly beautifully executed: Tantalus 13 is full of lonely, cold platinum, leaving one alone with only their reflection as company, and the infinite calling of the void. Punctuating the endless monotony of metal are the occasional appearances of one of SCARAB's drones and the knowledge that SCARAB, like a benevolent Big Brother, is always watching, always listening.
I have to praise Graham's pacing here; he utilizes empty pages and space masterfully, forcing suspense onto the reader as they turn the page. This book is expertly executed as a thriller, and there were several parts of the novel where the action consumes the reader. The pacing at around the three-quarters point was much faster than the rest of the novel, but made for an immensely satisfying ending when the ride was finally over.
Overall, this was a short read that I finished in about two-three hours. Tantalus Depths is looking to be one of my favorite science fiction novels, and I look forward to reading whatever Graham produces in the future (the previewed novel seems promising!)
I was given a copy of this novel as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Wow! What a book! This is the debut novel from Evan Graham and it is quite a story. He blends cool technology, interesting characters, a super-cool (like, unbelievably cool) planet, creepy artificial intelligence and potential alien life into a page turning, stay-up-all-night reading experience. The feeling here is similar to Sphere by Michael Crichton, or perhaps the movie Event Horizon. I am adding this author to my auto-buy list for his next book.
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