The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone

Connecting will change everything…

Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family. Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband. Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes…

…only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered.

When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play. With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call ‘Sandy’ and goes on the run.

But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien … close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine…


The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone is an extraordinary novel about friendship and the power of connection. The first contact between a teenager, a grieving mother with cancer, a pregnant women fleeing abuse and an alien race.

That all sounds very Sci Fi and there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s not a book that will just appeal to fans of this genre, but to readers all types, because stories about friendship are universal.

I love that it encompasses so many themes that are often seen in literature, but rarely done as well as they are in The Space Between Us. Here we have a ‘road trip’ in which the three humans and a octopus-like creature go on the run and in doing so are looking for redemption and safety. Doug Johnstone managing to raise it above the normal account of a group of people running from the authorities, to a much deeper tale about fleeing war and seeking sanctuary. Then he weaves into it, the very basic need we have for connection and how as a species, when we raise borders between each other and other nations we reduce our capacity to grow and develop. It’s really a very beautiful story about how in embracing those different to us, we open ourselves up to the wonders of the world around us and beyond. That by rejecting the negativity of small minded bigotry, we as a species, can flourish and evolve.

The characterisation is another reason why I love this book so much. Sandy the octopus like creature, is just as much a character as Heather, Lennox and Ava. His innocence when played out against the cruelty of characters like Michael, really highlights how in The Connections Between Us, his goodness and compassion, are why the other three are willing to put their own individuality and problems aside, to pull together to help him. For the connection to work and for us to believe why they are wiling risk everything to help each other, it needs for all their stories to be explored and then brought together. He takes three very different people and narrates a story about how their friendship develops, but thankfully doesn’t make it all too easy. He shows us that their actions are not always entirely altruistic, there are tensions that lead to misunderstandings, which risk their ultimate goal, connection to each other and the world they live on. Each has suffered neglect, loss and rejection, but by helping each other they gain more than they can imagine and we are gifted a story full hope, empathy and compassion.

You can purchase this novel directly from the publisher Orenda Books.

Or from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Doug Johnstone is the author of fourteen previous novels, most recently Black Hearts (2022). The Big Chill (2020) was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and three of his books, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), have been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade, and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club, and has a PhD in nuclear physics. The Space between Us is Doug’s first foray into science fiction. Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website:


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