I read this book on my Kindle some years ago now and remember enjoying it immensely, though, for the life of me, I could remember very little beyond what is mentioned in the blurb. In some far-off future mankind has spread throughout the galaxy and is at war with another race just as belligerent. Crossing space at 20x the speed of light is commonplace but dangerous. To help the ships avoid danger, modern-day lighthouses known as beacons have been deployed. Like their predecessors, these highlight the dangers so ships can avoid them.
Much of the science stuff is handwaved away. The beacons are integral to safe travel, but how ships use them to avoid danger is left up to the imagination. Good in a sense but a little irritating on reflection. A ship is on a course, ploughing through a part of space filled with asteroids, and the beacon tells them it’s there. Why not just chart around it?
That aside, the story is compelling. The operator of Beacon 23 is a war veteran who, through luck and misunderstandings, found himself a war hero. Wanting to be alone, he chose the money existence of being the human in the loop in the beacon.
Alone with only his thoughts, he is seemingly going slowly mad. The only comfort he can find is resting against the Gravity Wave Broadcaster (GWB, pronounced gwib). For someone all alone in deep space, he has his fair share of adventures. From sabotage leading to lightspeed collisions to bounty hunters and alien visitors, we get to experience him pulling back from the madness and PTSD into something resembling human once more.
The narration by Peter Ganim was excellent. His characterisations, the inner monologue and the stream-of-consciousness thoughts of the main character worked well. Production was of excellent quality, with no noticeable issues or retakes.
So scientific handwaving aside, and putting aside some of the less believable stuff like how after a spaceship travelling at 20x the speed of light collides with an asteroid belt manages to have any salvageable supplies left, the story itself was totally engaging and kept me hooked all the way through.