>

Review: Unfathomed by Ralph Kern

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
23,917
Location
Highlands
unfathomed.jpg



Lee Child meets Tom Clancy in this near-future thriller

So I had a few minutes to kill and picked this up just to see what it was like. And - I know it's a cliche - but it grabbed me immediately and wouldn't let me go.

The story is simple enough - the setting is 2024, and a state-of-the-art cruise liner suddenly finds itself lost in the Caribbean and everything starts to look very unfamiliar...

Thus begins a whole string of problems - which, surprisingly, the crew do their best to address professionally and work on, and never act like idiots just to make someone else look like a hero.

There is a marine veteran on board who becomes part of the story, though not so much as I might have expected. And kudos for Kern giving a war-scarred soldier very real physical injuries and making them part of his story.

There are a couple of nice twists and turns, and although room is left for a sequel, this book wraps up nicely.

I've enjoyed Ralph Kern's previous science fiction novels, but in this book we can really see how quickly his writing has matured and become truly polished. The narrative is smooth and fast-paced, and there's not an ounce of fat anywhere.

At times - especially with the Marine veteran - I was reminded of Lee Child's writing. However, much of the narrative is more reminiscent of Tom Clancy, with his seamless technical references, grand game plan, and ever increasing stakes.

It was especially pleasing that Kern avoided easy cliches, and didn't grasp for easy solutions.

All in all a superb book, written to a very high standard, with sympathetic characters, an increasingly complex yet believable plot, and one of the best near-future thrillers I've read in a long while.
 

ralphkern

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2013
Messages
1,154
Thanks for the great review.

I know you're a true craftsman, so your comment:

"I've enjoyed Ralph Kern's previous science fiction novels, but in this book we can really see how quickly his writing has matured and become truly polished. The narrative is smooth and fast-paced, and there's not an ounce of fat anywhere."

Puts a huge smile on my face.
 

ralphkern

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2013
Messages
1,154
Hey guys. Thanks! I can't take credit for the cover though.
 

Andrew Lambert

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2016
Messages
157
Location
Birmingham UK
Just got my shiny new copy Mr. K. Looking forward to reading it.
May even pop a Crit up on the board whilst Brian is in such a good mood ;-)
 

Nick B

author Nick Bailey, formerly Quellist.
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Messages
1,847
Location
UK
I made time to read this, because I was looking forward to it. Here is my review:

Unfathomed begins life as a mystery/paranormal type of affair, with the main protagonist aboard a cruise ship that gets lost. Not just ordinary lost though, communications are down, land has disappeared and even the compass is showing the sun rising in the west. The story's main protagonist - Jack Cohen - is an ex soldier who lost a leg during conflict. This is disability done very well, the fact he has lost a leg is central to the characters mindset early on, but soon becomes just a thing about him, not the focus, and certainly it doesn't stop him doing what he needs to do. The story begins fairly slowly, which is not a bad thing in this kind of novel, but quickly spirals into a mystery that you simply need to get to the bottom of. The characters are well presented and even the bad guys draw some sympathy, no-one seems like a 'throwaway red shirt'. The novel slows down somewhat in the middle, but it speeds back up exactly when it needs to and then becomes truly gripping. Intense fight scenes and detailed naval engagements hold your attention and are clearly imagined. The level of research and detail, especially the naval side of things, is great, and I learned more than a few things along the way. The end is satisfying in and of itself, but did make me want to dive straight into the follow up, which, sadly doesn't yet exist!

This is Ralph Kern's finest work yet in my mind, and will appeal to both science fiction fans and mystery/thriller lovers. Especially if you like TV shows such as Lost or The Last Ship. All in all, a pleasure to read. The cover artwork, as you can see is beautiful too. What are you waiting for? 5 stars.
 

ralphkern

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2013
Messages
1,154
That's a lovely review, Quel. Thanks! :)

I'm already pretty deep into the sequel and it's going somewhat faster than I expected - One of the benefits of having a completely plotted trilogy. Some bits are going to be gutting to write though.
 
Top