Hansen’s funny, intellectual thriller tracks an Everyman out to save the world—and all its possible, infinite counterparts—from a nuclear holocaust.
With an almost encyclopedic knowledge, Hansen moves the story from the mundane to the novel. Jeremy Fade struggles with everyday irrelevancies compared with the task that the embodiment of Invention, a multidimensional being, has set upon him: Save San Francisco, and subsequently the world, from a potential nuclear bombing. While Fade navigates interpersonal and interoffice politics, a group of Middle Eastern terrorists—their mission: Assess the decrepitude of Western civilization—scout the seedy underbelly of San Francisco, humorously experiencing the grotesqueries and beautiful alike. The “ghost” Invention summons the protagonist and four others. Invention’s role in all of this is central but, like his ability to see the future, vague; and the five men who are helping him prevent the nuclear war—in all potential cosmos—are constantly questioning his motives. After scenes where the driving force is a soapbox of ideas, Fade is put face to face with the potential terrorists. One terrorist is Khalid, who, after a vision of god and a stint with BDSM, is “able to use energy in a way consistent with the laws of the multiverse.” Through discussion and some superfluous metafiction, the crisis comes to a head with every important character discoursing on a lonely street corner where energy balls and a red-and-yellow, glowing Khalid reigns with his judgments of the American people and the culture they’ve created. By employing these inherently combatant ideologies, it’s clear that the author knows his subjects—and has opinions to spare. And despite dialogue-heavy scenes and an unchallenging denouement, we see the author’s love and care for his characters and his story.
A long-winded but multifaceted tale about an expansive, wild new vision of the universe.