Centauri's Shadow, by Ross Garner

20 May 2024

The Book

Centauri's Shadow
Pages: 294
Age Group: Adult
Published on 8 Apr 2024
Publisher: Self-published
Available on:


‘Eight years ago they sent a single ship to test our defences. Now they’re building an armada.’

Cole grew up in the shadow of grief. Kyoko grew up in the shadow of war. Two pilots, separated by time, set out on parallel journeys to Proxima Centauri. What they find could be the start of something new. What they bring with them could be the end of all we know.

In this sweeping science fiction debut from Ross Garner, readers will find an Earth that is transformed by fear of an imminent invasion; a space station in orbit that acts as a gateway to other worlds; a Martian colony with all of the threat and violence of the Old West; and a distant star where answers can be found.What is 'the signal'? A greeting, or a threat?

My Review

Centauri's Shadow is a science fiction novel, and which represents the debut of Ross Garner as author. Two parallel stories separated by time, sharing the target of their journey: Proxima Centauri, but whose circumstances are extremely different; a thrilling novel that portrays an Earth in fear of an attack and which also tells us the events that preceded that moment.

Told using two omniscient POVs, we get to know the stories of Cole and Kyoko, two people whose lives were changed by the discovery of a signal from Proxima Centauri and that might mean the possibility of sentient life outside Earth; however, their circumstances are really different.
Cole was with his family on the first attempt to use Sun's gravity to impulse a ship towards the star; the failure of it meant the loss of his family. A trauma that made Cole to feel isolated from the rest of humanity, fighting with his grief; only his arrival on the newly founded Mars' colony seems to give him a purpose to his life. A person that was broken as a consequence of the first attempt of response to the signal, and who will be chosen as the pilot of the mission that will re-try the maneuver that killed his parents.
44 years later, Kyoko is offered a mission when she thought she was going to be let down as pilot: together with other two volunteers, fly a bomb towards Proxima Centauri, and in a suicide task, detonate it, destroying the fleet before a new attack against Earth happens.

It is interesting how Garner uses the character-driven narrative to portray two really different people, and it opens to the discussion of how their circumstances shaped their personalities. Cole is more morally grey, but we can also interpret it as a result of his circumstances: orphan at a young age, he ended growing in the Mars' colony, a theoretical utopia that was starved of funds after the signal was discovered; he partly lacks the adequate answers to many situations, and always felt out of place outside of the time he helped the control of the colony.
Kyoko is more of an idealist, who devoted her life to flying; the past eight years were spent in the fear of a new attack, so she accepts the suicidal mission to Proxima. She, as Cole, is also a lonely person, but she can feel being appreciated by others; it's a character we can cheer for without any kind of doubt.

Garner's prose is agile and precise, really adequate to the genre, and makes this books compulsively readable; while the premise itself is not exactly original, the approach is well executed, making you feel engaged in the story. 

Centauri's Shadow is an excellent sci-fi novel, a story that will hook you and which asks interesting questions behind the lines through their characters. If this is just the debut, I can't wait to see what Ross Garner has under the sleeve for next books.

The Author/s

Ross Garner

Ross Garner

I’m Ross Garner, Head of Content and Customs Solutions at Mind Tools and an award-winning learning designer.

For over 10 years I’ve been responsible for creating effective digital learning content, workshops and programmes for organisations around the world.

I started hosting The Mind Tools L&D Podcast in 2016, and in 2019 I was named ‘Learning Designer of the Year’ at the Learning Technologies Awards.

With my friend-and-colleague Ross Dickie, I write the weekly L&D Dispatch newsletter.

And my first novel, Centauri’s Shadow, is available for pre-order now (UK | US).