Jamie Allenby is a veterinarian living on the planet of Soltaire and tending to the cattle there. She wakes after a feverish three days to discover that she seems to be all alone. Earth and its outlying planet settlements have been struck by a vicious and fast-moving virus that, essentially, devours its victims and leaves nothing but a sheen of dust in their place and the survival rate is estimated at a mere 0.0001%. When Jamie wakes to find nothing but dust where her fellow settlers once were, she thinks she is the lone survivor, at least on Soltaire. Mind you, she fled to Soltaire after leaving Daniel, her partner of 13 years, following the crushing weight her miscarriage put on their relationship, but abject solitude is not what she was looking for.
Jamie was one of the lucky ones, even before the virus. She was an upper echelon member of society, so it was her choice to move to Soltaire, unlike many of the lower echelon individuals, who were made to leave the incredibly overcrowded Earth through forced emigration. But now, she imagines that overcrowding is the least of the survivors' worries.
She happens upon an older preacher named Lowery and an odd middle-aged woman with him named Rena, who seems very skittish and distant. The three of them band together to survive, but then they are stunned when a ship lands on Soltaire and the roguish captain, Callan, offers to give them a ride in exchange for some of the goods from the settlement. Jamie has decided she wants to return to Earth, specifically her hometown in England. It was, after all, where she and Daniel agreed to meet if the world were ever to end, and since she received a cryptic blank message as she was fighting the virus, perhaps Daniel has survived, against all odds. As it turns out, both Lowery and Rena spent some time in a neighboring community of monks, so they want to return to Earth as well. Too bad that Callan and his engineer Gracie aren't exactly looking to head back to Earth any time soon.
As they travel, they receive a distress call and happen upon a coquettish girl named Mina and a quiet and troubled young man named Finn, who decide to join the ship's ever-growing community as well. Mina is a prostitute who has been caring for Finn, an Autistic boy, since the virus happened. Mina seems to know more about her planet's settlement and who remains, but those on Callan's ship must be very cautious, since not everyone they encounter will be pleasant.
As they continue their journey, Jamie causes dissension by insisting that they rescue people along the way and she often gets into arguments with Callan, but there's still a draw between them. Meanwhile, Rena has come out of her shell a bit and is something of a religious zealot, insisting that the virus was all part of God's plan.
When they finally make it back to civilization on the planet of Alegria, where the administration resided, things are not what they thought they would be, but are they any better back on Earth? As each in this motley group of survivors seeks out their new future, they will become intertwined in a way they never expected.
The Space Between the Stars is most definitely a drama set in a future sci-fi setting. There are no zombies that come with this virus, just emptiness and loneliness, but it is very well written and a compelling read. Anne Corlett has done a fine job with her first novel and I look forward to seeing what she pens next in her journey.