by Kimberly Unger

We are live, we are live, we are live . . . 

Helen Vectorvich just botched first contact. And she did it in both virtual reality and outer space.

Only the most elite Far Reaches deep-space pilots get to run waldos: robots controlled from thousands of lightyears away via neural integration and quantum entanglement. Helen and her navigator were heading the construction of a wormhole gate that would connect Earth to the stars . . . until a routine system check turned deadly.

As nasty rumors swarm around her, and overeager junior pilots jockey to take her place, Helen makes a startling discovery: microscopic alien life is devouring their corporate equipment. Is the Scale just mindless, extraterrestrial bacteria? Or is it working—and killing—with a purpose?

While Helen struggles to get back into the pilot’s chair, and to communicate with the Scale, someone—or something—is trying to sabotage the Far Reaches project once and for all. They’ll have to get through Helen first.


“Seamlessly blending elements of science fiction and mystery, Unger’s latest revolves around a virtual-reality pilot who, after her navigator dies while they’re working on a high-profile project, sets out to avenge his death and understand the bizarre circumstances surrounding the failed mission.”


"Recommended for fans of technothrillers and those who appreciate a strong lead character navigating readers through the technical bits."

Library Journal

"This debut novel is recommended for fans of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon (2003) and Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, as well as for readers who like their cutting-edge technology with a bit of danger on the side."


“I picked up Nucleation expecting a standard space opera. What I got was a thriller that kept me occupied for days.”

Lightspeed Magazine

"Rest assured, Kimberly Unger has found a way to make piloting space vehicles via virtual reality interesting, compelling, with the requisite “stakes” high enough to maintain our interest.”

Galaxy's Edge Magazine

“I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any fan of cyberpunk mixed with a little space opera.”

SciFi Reviews

“Immersive and detailed SF and tech elements with the virtual reality gear that really shows the strength of the author’s knowledge and lines of invention.”

Nerds of a Feather

“Nucleation is an intelligently written story that manages to combine a number of serious scientific concepts with sociological ones as well.”

Green Man Review

“With NUCLEATION, Kimberly Unger offers a richly detailed, thought-provoking peek into our not-so distant future and a mind-blowing means of taking us to the stars, but are we prepared for what awaits us out there?”

Dayton Ward, author of Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual

“In technology we so often look to science fiction for inspiration. Kimberly Unger is the rare author with a foot in both worlds and it shows as she gives a thrilling glimpse into the future with NUCLEATION.”

Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Augmented and Virtual Reality, Facebook

Awards & Accolades