By C. A. Higgins

Lightless, the debut novel from C. A. Higgins, hits the ground running with the black hole-powered spaceship Ananke being infiltrated by a pair of break-and-enter men who infect its computer with a virus. The rest of the novel will be spent trying to figure out who these guys really are and what they’re up to.

After the jolting opening chapter things slow down a bit, and Higgins starts to pace herself for a longer game. She also effectively manages a restricted, almost claustrophobic setting, talky plot, and small cast of characters.

Chief among these is Althea Bastet, the computer engineer aboard the Ananke. As the story develops Althea is drawn into a techno-mystery that pits the forces of order, known simply as the System, against anti-authoritarian elements who are either freedom-loving rebels or terrorists (you’ll guess which soon enough). Meanwhile, Ananke appears to be fatefully evolving into an artificial intelligence with plans of its own.

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