Life Signs

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Of all the starships in the Terran Space Fleet, the I.S.S. Mercury is probably the unluckiest ship in history. Not once, not twice, but many times over, the same hapless crew – give or take a few dozen casualties – on a supposed voyage of deep space exploration, stumble into the weird, wake the creepy and trip over the downright terrifying and possibly even supernatural…

While on a routine deep-space mission to chart the frontier of unknown space, Captain Stuart Flane and the crew of the Mercury encounter an alien marooned in a ship wrecked on the surface of their long-dead world – but is the alien really all that they seem to be? Did the shuttle the Mercury recovered in deep space – the one that turned out to be the last remnant of a starliner that disappeared thirty years earlier, hold the key to the puzzle? Would Flane be able to sleep that night if he found out? And, as if all that wasn’t enough to jeopardize Flane’s already shaky hold on reality, the Mercury is sent by Admiral Tawney himself to help out an old friend who has difficulties with a cursed object!

Life Signs” is the second title in the Panic! Horror In Space series by Christina Engela.

“From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in. I particularly enjoyed ‘Lange’s Legacy’ which carried a certain detective vibe while also being full of twists and revelations. 5 stars – a fun read that will appeal to most readers.” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer.

“Christina Engela is that rarest of authors – able to seamlessly blend together elements of dark horror and sci-fi to create stories that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.” – Mark Woods, author of Time of Tides and Fear of the Dark.

Life Signs“ is the second title in the Panic! Horror In Space series by Christina Engela.


  • Published: June 06, 2019
  • Words: 64,943
  • Pages: 232 pages (6×9 format paperback)
  • Duration: (to be announced) min (eBook narrated by)

Synopsis: [Spoiler Alert]

Life Signs“ is the second title in the series, and the story is divided into three parts: “Miora”, “Lange’s Legacy” and “The Big Rain”.


After a few hair-raising assignments – and some even more harsh treatment at the hands of his skeptical superiors at Space Fleet Command HQ, Captain Flane and the crew of the Terran starship Mercury are only too happy to be sent on a truly mind-numbingly boring assignment: to survey and catalog every planet, moon, asteroid and speck of space-dust in a previously unexplored star system.

There, on a long-dead world scarred by an ancient war of self-annihilation, Flane and his intrepid crew discover a deserted alien ship stranded on the surface, perhaps since the great calamity that ended the burgeoning civilization that once lived there thousands of years ago.

The fact that Flane’s best friend and executive officer, Commander Vic Chapman, gets all aflap about detecting life on board that ship, doesn’t make things any easier for Flane – but a boarding party goes down to investigate nonetheless.

What they find shocks even the unshockable Stuart Flane to the core.

Lange’s Legacy

The disappearance of the Red Star Liner “Demeter” had become one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of commercial deep-space travel – until a military ship on patrol spots an object drifting in space – which turns out to be a shuttle from the long-lost mystery ship… For Captain Stuart Flane of the starship Mercury, it’s a feather in his cap that he and his ship should be associated with the last piece of the puzzle posed by such an enduring mystery of space. Posterity, as it were, was still not quite done with mysteries just yet.

A body is found aboard the shuttle, a body clutching a letter – a very, very long letter, and it wasn’t written by the man holding it. Who was he? Was he a survivor of the Demeter? It seems unlikely as he’s only been dead a few years, while the Demeter disappeared decades before. What happened to the man who wrote the letter – and his co-survivors mentioned in it as being aboard the shuttle?

The mystery deepens as Flane and Vic try to work out exactly what happened aboard the shuttle – while the intriguing letter, penned long ago by a survivor of the Demeter expounds exactly what happened aboard the lost space liner in graphic detail… a tale of suspicion, hysteria, pestilence and death! Could it be even remotely true?

The Big Rain

For some weird reason, certain people seem to think owning a cursed object suspected of being responsible for the untimely, messy, and unavoidably mysterious deaths of 13 people would be a good idea.

Unfortunately for Stuart Flane, Captain of the Terran Space Fleet starship Mercury and his intrepid crew, their latest assignment is to relieve a terraforming plant on Atooin of such a cursed object!

Things don’t go without a hitch – but then, the thing is called ‘the Jug of Death’, and obviously with good reason.

The History of “Life Signs”

Life Signs“ is the direct descendant of “Panic! Horror In Space volume #3” (2017) and “Lange’s Legacy” a short novel of 39,500 words from 2016.

“Lange’s Legacy” started out as “Space Vacation” a short story of around 14k words in 2015, which Christina published as a novella. The novella sold several copies, but Christina wasn’t satisfied with the length of the story and took “Space Vacation” down. She redrafted it into a more detailed and gripping novel the following year – which she then retitled “Lange’s Legacy”. It was at first published as the fourth title in the Galaxii Series, after “Dead Beckoning”, but since the story included none of the characters in the rest of that series, Christina thought it felt out of place and removed it a few months later, without any sales of that title being recorded.

Instead, she decided to include the story into the second volume of “Panic! Horror In Space”, called “Life Signs”, adding new sections at the beginning and the end to set it in line with the characters of Panic!

The original covers of the Panic! series as launched in 2017 were rather nice and the stories were excellent… but the titles didn’t work out the way Christina had wanted them to… so finally in 2019, after disappointing sales, she took them down again and went back to the drawing board.

Instead of “vol #1, 2, 3 etc.” she decided to give the volumes titles instead, and also doubled up the amount of content. Where the original volumes only contained two stories each, the new volumes would contain 3 or 4, depending on word length.

The result was “Static“, which contained all four parts that had originally been in vol 1 and 2, and “Life Signs“ which contained the two stories that had been in volume #3 and “Lange’s Legacy” . Christina published the first version of “Life Signs“ in 2019 on Lulu and Smashwords.

In 2019, Christina again revised all the Panic!, Galaxii and Quantum Series books and redesigned all the covers so they all looked like part of their respective series – and unique from each other.


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A trio of enjoyable sci-fi tales filled with mystery, fun and revelations…

“The second entry of Christina Engela’s Panic! Horror in Space series takes the reader on a ride of mystery through three tales of the ghostly, vampiric and even cursed objects; all of which are hazards that come with deep space travel.

Captain Stuart Flane returns to face these perilous situations and has developed a rap for finding trouble of such persuasions. He’s used to dealing with the macabre and that’s what all three of these stories have in common. All of them begin in one place and through the vessel of immersive and readable story telling they end up somewhere completely unexpected.

From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in. I particularly enjoyed ‘Lange’s Legacy’ which carried a certain detective vibe while also being full of twists and revelations.

5 stars – A fun read that will appeal to most readers. A thank you to the author for providing a copy in exchange for a review left on Goodreads and Amazon.” – Lee Hall, UK writer & reviewer.

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If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2021.

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