A man’s devotion to astrology draws in his young nephew as well as a clandestine organization wanting to use his skills to perfect horoscope interpretation in Jaegers’ debut drama.
Seventeen-year-old Robert isn’t happy that his family is moving to the country and that he’ll spend his senior year at another school. On the plus side, Robert will be closer to his sheep-farmer uncle, Rufus. Robert, a bright student, appreciates that his uncle’s “different”; he’s a former teacher with a unique way of thinking—most notably an extensive knowledge of astrology. Though some, like Robert’s dad, James, write off the study as nonsense, Rufus stresses that astrology can augment rather than replace one’s religious practice. In fact, he works this notion into a book, Heaven: The Unified Field Theory, in which he argues, among other things, that heaven isn’t as much a place as a state of mind. At an astrology conference, Rufus meets like-minded individuals who invite him to join the covert Data Collection Group. They’re primarily interested in “advanced data collection,” which is essentially pooling people’s private information to optimize astrological readings. This would entail hacking, so Rufus turns to Robert and his computer-savvy friends who are willing to invade others’ privacy (though they’re using the info for research only). And they may have to add a few DCG recruits—discreetly. The author builds a solid foundation for his characters. Robert, for one, inching closer to college, undergoes relationship turmoil, at one point torn between lusty Kristin and steady girlfriend Jane. Astrology, meanwhile, is repeatedly and convincingly defended by Rufus. Not surprisingly, the concepts are abstract; even Robert asserts that his uncle’s ideas are “hard to visualize.” But Rufus’ notion of a unified version of the afterlife based on various religions makes sense. The plan to hack the Census Bureau database, however, while intriguing, isn’t quite the “bizarre secretive web” that Rufus apparently believes it to be. Regardless, the stage is definitely set for an ongoing series, with much left to explore, including enigmatic DCG bigwig, Walter.
A good start to a series, with durable characters and fascinating theories.