Lost Solace


“They’re called the Lost Ships … but sometimes they come back”

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Can she face her demons and survive?

Book Length: 273 pages / 58,400 words
ISBNs: Print 978-1-911278-11-5 / E-book 978-1-911278-12-2

"I loved this book. [...] This book has it all. Yes, it is obviously a science fiction read, but it's also the story about a strong young woman who will fight for what she believes in. Opal is a strong character,  both in nature and on the page. [...] It is also very obvious that this author writes horror and loves the genre, and this seeps through this book in the most delicious way. This is one eerie read, especially when we get to the Lost Ship part of the book. Some scenes completely freaked me out and chilled me to the bone. Heightened because of my sheer belief and connection with Opal.
I also have to mention Clarissa, who although a robot, gave a fresh and unique twist to what it means to have a nourishing female friendship. As I progressed through the novel I began to forget that Clarissa was a robot and, to me, she became a person in her own right. [...]
Lost Solace really is a wonderful read. It's fast, scary, dark at times, and features a young woman whom I grew to admire and root for in her quest. I really do hope that there is a sequel to this book."

-- Brew and Books Review (13th January 2018)

5* "I was bowled over by this book. [...] Lost Solace has an action-packed story line that doesn’t let you pause for breath, a flawed, female protagonist who you can’t help liking, and a ship AI that seems almost human. For most of the book, these two are the only characters as the story plays out in real time, but their interactions and dialogue are so cleverly written that you don’t even notice.
Even though we don’t know anything about Opal at the beginning, her strong character, sense of humour, and moral judgement shine through immediately. [...] The tension throughout the book is unrelenting, and keeps you turning the pages. I have read several of Karl’s horror stories, and he is definitely the master of keeping you on the edge of  your seat! [...] Well written and well edited, with a beautiful cover as well, I highly recommend this book."

-- Pink Quill Books (4th January 2018)

5* "Drinkwater’s latest is a great reminder of what makes sci-fi so appealing. Take a strong yet flawed protagonist who needs to accomplish something and then set obstacles in her way. It’s not rocket science but man does it make for a compelling story.
The set up here is great, with Opal coming upon a “lost ship” circling the outer rim of a potential black hole, a ship that is far from what it appears to be. It’s obvious Drinkwater is a horror author as the tension and atmosphere really keep this novel moving at full speed. Add a lot of questions and intrigue and a dynamic relationship between our protagonist and the ship’s AI and you’ve really got a unique story that’s just exceptionally executed.
Part “Alien,” part “Cast Away,” part “Interstellar,” this exceeded my expectations and came in as one of my top Sci-Fi reads for 2017. Definitely worth checking out."

-- The Behrg (31st December 2017)

"Space, it turns out, is not the final frontier.
Oh no, you see, there's something else out there. Somewhere that the Lost Ships go to. And when they come back, well... you may not survive the experience.
Karl Drinkwater is a horror man, you can tell as you read this haunted house story in space. Rogue soldier Opal and her pirated AI ship are on the trail of a Lost Ship, which has reappeared in our universe from that mysterious somewhere - and Opal is intent on exploring this vessel for personal reasons. With the aid of her AI, Clarissa, they discover the passenger ship has changed, warped, become something... almost living. There's a Lovecraftian air to this voyage of discovery, with animated robot dolls, flesh growing from the ship, the vessel itself morphing its shape to repel unwanted guests. [...] Drinkwater is a dab hand at creating an air of dread, and every corner of the ship feels like it might have a dark secret lurking in its shadows.
More than that, I really loved his AI creation, Clarissa. Her hacked persona really does raise questions of identity and personality throughout the story - does it matter who an AI is? Isn't it just a computer? Or is it more than that - could it even be a friend? The bond between AI and Opal is tested more than once, and is a fascinating relationship.
[...] A cracking read, certainly evoking the horror worlds of space such as those in Alien, Pandorum or Event Horizon. If those are your kind of horror treat, then the Lost Ships await you."

-- Altered Instinct (31st December 2017)

5* "Having read some of the author's books before (Turner, Harvest Festival) I know the author is capable of some under the skin eeriness, and Lost Solace doesn't disappoint. Moments of high action punctuate the claustrophobic feel as we follow Opal on a kick ass adventure. It was great to read something with a strong female main character, but as strong as Opal was she still had a softness to her which made her feel very real and not cliched."
-- Sharon Cook, Goodreads (28th December 2017)

5* "Excellent read. Beautifully written, non-stop, exhausting action that centers around a single character without ever getting stale."
-- KHB, Goodreads (3rd December 2017)

5* "Such a strong hero with incredible resilience. There was non-stop action with detailed interactions. Look out Ripley, cause there be monsters."
-- Barbara Dunbar, Goodreads (29th November 2017)

"Oooh think Event Horizon with a bit of "Mother" from the Alien movies and that was the overall feel when I first started this book. [...] Opal is a fantastic character, complex, a history we learn a bit more about as we read on, she is heroic, loyal, strong and long long overdue in fiction. I loved the AI too and the relationship that formed between the two, the ballsy choices and bravery through frightening encounters and life and death situations."
-- So many books, so little time (15th November 2017)

5* "Two words: Super Cool. I don't often read Sci-fi, but as I'm a sucker for Drinkwater's horror pieces, I felt comfortable picking up this book, and, well, the cover pulled me in. Though Opal, the protagonist, has her flaws, she is one compelling character (and she knows how to kick butt). [...] I loved the AI, Clarissa, and the body armor suit she created for Opal was awesome - great imagination on Drinkwater's part. I read this book in about a day. It's fast paced with a touch of horror and just the right amount of description such that I could visual most things but didn't feel slowed down by any of it. My favorite part of the story, which actually made me laugh, was Clarissa asking Opal if she 'should intervene if she sees an opportunity' and Opal's response upon said intervention. Good stuff there. The end of the book sets up a continuation to the story - I'm there in a heartbeat."
-- E.M. McIntyre, Goodreads (and Amazon) (13th November 2017)

5* "I've only read one other story by Karl, a shorter piece called Harvest Festival, but it was enough to feel comfortable buying this one, and I was not disappointed. It takes great skill writing a full novel with just one character POV throughout and with almost no other character other than a ship's A.I. [...] I never found myself skimming a single passage, and that is a rare occurrence for me as I am easily distracted and will skip through narrative I find even the slightest bit boring or superfluous. None of that here."
-- Brock Deskins, Goodreads (10th November 2017)

"The majority of new SF novels I've read this year have had female main characters [...] that's certainly the case in Karl Drinkwater's engaging Lost Solace. It's really a two hander between military renegade Opal and her ship's AI, Clarissa. [...] The majority of the action, which is practically non-stop throughout the book, involves Opal trying to survive as she explores a mysterious, apparently abandoned liner in a decaying orbit around a neutron star. The whole book takes place in real time, which adds to the claustrophobic tension of Opal's adventures, mostly while cooped up in an armoured space suit. It's pretty well impossible not to relate to Opal's character. [...] The ship she explores is distinctly weird with some elegantly nasty touches thrown in by Drinkwater - and Clarissa brings in a really interesting AI side to the whole thing. [...] It was a book which I read with enthusiasm, wanting to find out what comes next, involving a good deal of atmosphere, particularly on the liner, plus some satisfying David vs Goliath work. Assuming this is the first of a series, I await the next with interest."
-- Popular Science (5th November 2017)

"Great fun—a female-centred science fiction space adventure, with lots of action, creepy mystery, and satisfying emotional depth."
-- Julie Cohen, author (29th October 2017)

"The story is excellent and there is a perfect balance of sci-fi and horror. [...] Lost Solace is absolutely compulsive reading. [...] It's punchy and fast paced. The technology and armoured suit are incredibly thought out and intelligent. The armoured suit is definitely the kind of thing I would want if I was in that kind of situation. I honestly cannot emphasise how much I loved this book. When I finished it my initial notes were as follows - Omgoodness ALL OF THE STARS! 5/5! It's creepy, it's action packed, it's awesome!"
-- Life of a Nerdish Mum (5th October 2017)