In Jupiter’s orbit, a mysterious death propels an astronaut into the investigation of a lifetime
Partway into a years-long journey, an interstellar research expedition takes up orbit around Jupiter and begins to explore the gas giant’s moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io and—most importantly—the ice ball known as Europa. For centuries, scientists have wondered what strange alien life forms may lurk beneath the frozen surface of Jupiter’s most mysterious moon. And tragically, the men and women aboard this ship are about to find out.
Two scientists go down to the surface of Europa in a small craft piloted by the beautiful, fiery Evangeline Chatelain. After an accident on the surface, only she returns. Her crewmembers suspect her of murder, but Evangeline tells a wild tale of an attack by a terrifying space monster. The astronaut charged with investigating the incident must decide—is she a crazed killer? Or has she just made the greatest scientific discovery in history?
Steele's stand-alone novella will appeal to admirers of Asimov's robot mysteries, though it lacks their intricacy and emphasis on deduction. In 2112, on an expedition to Jupiter's moon Europa, two astrobiologists die while exploring the satellite's global ocean. The prevailing belief on the space vessel Zeus Explorer is that the two men were murdered by their mutual lover, Evangeline Chatelain, who piloted them into the unknown depths. Chatelain insists that after the bathyscaphe was attacked by a large unknown life form, she had to jettison the section of the undersea vessel the scientists were occupying in order to survive herself. The task of investigating falls to Otto Danzig, the spaceship's arbiter, who has just had his own brush with death. The prose, plot, and lead character are all serviceable, but aren't at the levels Steele (Hex) has displayed in his longer works.