Dead Space: Catalyst is a Tie-In Novel set in the Dead Space universe, written by B.K. Evenson. Although it takes place before the first Dead Space game, it has no major connection to any other story in the series or Dead Space: Martyr, Evenson's other Dead Space novel.
Istvan Sato has always had mental problems, like hearing voices, seeing patterns everywhere, zoning in and out of reality, and a mild case of Lack of Empathy. The only person he will listen to is his younger brother Jensi, who has taken care of his brother since they were kids. One day, Istvan kills a local politician (though he says he was told the gun would shoot red dye) and is sent to a prison colony on the planet Aspera for political prisoners.
Coincidentally, Aspera is also home to a secret research facility that is building a Marker, led by fervent Unitologist Dr. Enoch Briden. As is customary with Markers, it's presence is causing people to hallucinate, mutilate, and kill themselves. Dr. Briden and his team discover that Istvan is not affected by the Marker's presence.
Jensi meanwhile gets a tip from his friend Henry Wandrei, a supervisor at the prison, of his brother's location. Jensi travels to Aspera as Necromorphs start to break out.
Dead Space: Catalyst provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Disorder: Istvan's mental disorder is unclear. He shows signs of paranoid schizophrenia, and some obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Big Brother Instinct: Jensi for Istvan, even though Jensi is the younger brother. It's not shown as a good thing though, every bad thing that happens to Jensi is from protecting his brother, who is too far gone to really appreciate it, and he would be better off forgetting about Istvan.
- Covers Always Lie: Neither Jensi nor anyone runs into a gigantic Necromorph depicted on the cover.
- Disability Superpower: Istvan's mental problems protect him from the Marker's usual insanity effects, and actually allows him to communicate with the Marker to some degree.
- Downer Ending: Everyone dies except Jensi, who can't tell if he is pointing his gun at the Necromorphs or in his mouth. The Marker is still intact, not that it matters since the other project supervisors are considering nuking the complex anyway.
- Filler: To the series as a whole. The book does not expand on any other character's motivations or events in the series, or go into any detail about the backstory.
- Genre Shift: Without knowledge of how Dead Space stories usually play out, the first half of the novel reads like the tragic story of a man trying to take care of dangerously ill older brother.
- Meat Moss: Istvan notices it growing around the prison when he arrives. It's so mild though that none of the other inmates care and think it's merely some natural flora. The Marker activation causes it to spread.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's unclear whether Istvan's mental disorder has something to with the Marker's, and he was destined to come in contact with the marker, and someone was deliberately setting him up to come in the contact with the Marker, or he is merely mentally ill and just happens to come into contact with a Marker.
- Prolonged Prologue: It takes half the book for Istvan to get to the prison.