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“Last Man Standing”


Last Man Standing

This was a strange book. It is in the far future and it has nothing to do with military science fiction. Still, the title was interesting so that’s why I latched on to read it. There are a lot of improbable circumstances detailed in this book. I don’t think most of this could happen, no way, no how. To start with, we had a 35-year old scientist or “Visiting Researcher” on the space lab/space station The Beacon. It’s a commercially owned space lab, owned and operated by the ZolaCore Corporation. You were invited to come and run an experiment you have been working on by none other than Ignacio Zola, a renowned, reclusive multi-billionaire. You’re just about to the point of proving that your idea of enriching theocite when this story starts. You are in a sealed lab wing of the space station, isolated from everything and everybody. Your experiment is very dangerous, but every precaution has been made to ensure nothing unknown happens and you’re sure nothing will. In fact, you’re risking your life that your experiment will work.

And it does! You slowly realize that with your success, “theocite-enriched BioZol could revolutionize space travel”. BioZol is the compound that ZolaCore has created to made great advances for Earth in space exploration. Still, BioZol by itself isn’t the answer to truly Solar system-wide travel or travel between the stars. But, with your theocite-enriched BioZol, the stars are now definitely within the reach of mankind for the first time ever.

Your experiment was a success and now it’s time to let your immediate supervisor and friend know the results. He’s been waiting just out side your secure lab beyond the sealed access hatch, a short walk-way, and through another sealed access hatch. Only you can’t see him through the small hatch window. So, you open the hatch and there is you supervisor, friend and colleague dead on the floor! What the heck?

After checking your friend, you frantically get up to go run through the rest of the space station screaming for help only to find that everyone and I mean everyone else on the space station is also, dead! You’re apparently the only human alive on this entire station and you don’t have a clue as to what to do next.

You do slowly realize that you need to tell someone on Earth what has happened. Surely they know by now that everyone is dead, even to the point of believing you’re dead. You must contact the Earth and get some help sent up. You were even supposed to be relieved in about two more days so they should be ready to send a rescue ship to find out what happened to all these other people.

The major problem you’re facing now is that as a “Visiting Researcher” you have limited access to other parts of the space station. Most of the “off-limits” areas are secured by a hatch with biometric credentials required to unlock them. And you’re definitely going to have to reach some of those “off-limits” areas because you are now aware of a blaring alarm indicating a breach in the life-support system! If you want to live, you’re going to have to fix that problem. There’s nobody else alive to do it so either you fix it or you die.

And that’s how this story is going to go. Yes, you’re on a space station in orbit above the Earth. How you got there is not so important as to why you were allowed there. You’ll find that Ray Barclay isn’t a great physical specimen of humanity. No he’s just an average scientist/engineer type of guy that has some physical and emotional limitations that should have prevented him from ever getting into the situation he’s in now. His right hand doesn’t work like it should due to an injury sustained a long time ago when he was about 15. That accident also resulted in some pretty traumatic psychological trauma that still lingers to this day. You also wear prescription contacts without which you’re almost, but not quite blind!

So, as you can see, our guy Ray isn’t an astronaut. But, he is the last person alive on The Beacon and he needs someone from Earth to help him desperately. Only he has the unfortunate experience to access the Observation Deck on the space station and looking down on Earth, he sees a planet consumed in flames, burning and smoking! What the heck has happened on Earth?

So, does “Last Man Standing” mean that Ray Barclay is the last human alive? Well, read to find out. I, for one, don’t see how most of this story could ever take place. I’m not trying to nit-pick the author, but it’s just that there’s too many, uh, coincidences that happen just when you think they should or should not. I’m not going to say more because to do so would revel too much of the book. Let’s just say that the story is interesting and I’m probably going to read the next book in the series.

Which brings me to identifying the next book as, “Into the Fire”. I’ve got it on my reading list now.

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