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A blockbuster survival story and love story set in space shaped up as one of the hottest properties at October’s Frankfurt Book Fair (11-15 October). UK publisher Sphere bought world rights (excluding US and Canada) to Across the Void, an ambitious, sci-fi crossover novel by SK Vaughn, the pseudonym for a Hollywood writer and director who has worked for big studios, including Paramount, Sony, Fox and Lionsgate.

The plot concerns May Knox, extrovert astronaut and only survivor of a catastrophic accident that has killed her whole crew and left her ship drifting helplessly in the void. There is only one person who can help her – her bookish ex-husband Stephen, a NASA scientist who was heading up the operation back on Earth. Twist? She broke his heart and he left both her and the mission.

The book was acquired by Sphere’s editorial director, Ed Wood, making it their biggest submission for Frankfurt. Translation rights are being sold by the Little Brown UK rights team; US and Canada rights by Sam Morgan of Foundry; and film and TV rights by Brad Mendelsohn of Circle of Confusion. An Arabic language deal has not been struck yet, though Sphere has had interest from Italy already.

Wood said: “Across the Void is set to be a crossover hit, combining sci-fi thrills with a meaningful, touching love story that leaves you rooting for May and Stephen at every turn. It’s a read-in-one-sitting ride.”