In the future, Earth and its Mars colony are in trouble: The first world president has been assassinated, and political radicalism is on the rise. When Kyle Matthews’ wife disappears on Europa, Jupiter’s moon, he volunteers for a rescue mission. Meanwhile, two centuries later, interplanetary war has left Earth and Mars reeling. An “augmented” soldier named Lara Henries is tapped to lead a group and time travel into the past to prevent war. In his debut novel, Magill offers a complicated plot that encompasses two timelines, many characters (several with two sets of names), much future history, religion, technology and philosophical time-travel paradoxes. It can be hard to keep up, especially since many characters introduced early on are dropped; a dramatis personae and possibly a basic timeline would have been helpful. Much of this novel, which focuses on engineering and technology, will appeal to lovers of hard sci-fi (inventions here include a space elevator and submersible landing module). Magill describes future tech well, though occasionally the descriptions grow tedious. Also, Magill’s imagination can seem stuck in the present. People in his two futures still use duct tape and bifocals, and women still wait for men to propose. Long sections of abstract philosophizing can be eye-glazing: “Trace everything to its source, and, ultimately, you will find an imperfection. Trace that imperfection, and you’ll find a contradiction. Eliminate the contradiction, and you’ll unravel the fabric of that reality.” Magill does better with his tight, cinematic action scenes, his spooky Europa setting and thoughtful moments, like Kyle’s exploration of Jupiter’s icy moon: “[H]e started to feel the weight of an uncomfortable wonder. The sun was so far away now it was indistinguishable from other stars, and the warmth of humanity was so far away from this cold, dark place it might not have even existed.”
Dense and sometimes confusing but offers red meat to technical sci-fi lovers.