A patient becomes trapped at the intersection of two universes in this sci-fi debut.
Miami, 2025. Sick veteran Levan Lamarr’s wife, Mira, is scheduled to give birth to their first child in a week. But Levan isn’t expected to live that long. Out of the blue, a robot arrives bearing the face of a scientist—Dr. Jonah Salter, head of the multinational Salter Pharma—and a briefcase full of cash. Salter says he thinks he can cure Lev’s bone cancer and is willing to pay him $5 million for the opportunity to try. “I have invented a machine that, well, theoretically can reset your health to that of a point in your past,” explains Salter. “I call it the Entangler.” The only catch is that every time Salter has tried the procedure, the patient died in the process. Lev agrees, figuring that if he dies Mira will at least have $5 million to raise their daughter. The process involves Quantum Entanglement: placing Lev at the intersection between this universe and another near-identical one, making him the only thing in either world that can influence both. The procedure works and Lev is cured, but he continues to experience both universes simultaneously. As time goes on, the worlds become less and less identical to each another, and as the mercurial lives of other people morph around him, Lev must find a way to preserve his own humanity. In his ambitious novel, Nair does his best to keep readers with him as he explains the complicated mechanics of the plot, though he can’t always avoid scientific jargon. Even the action sequences aren’t always the easiest to explain: “At the same time, one of the two Jonahs (the one who’d seen the intruder through the mirror) ducked. A bullet hit the Jonah-who-didn’t-duck on the head, and he collapsed. The other bullet missed the Jonah-who-ducked.” The novel’s characters are rather wooden, though this matters less as the intricate plot develops and identities shift, evolve, or are subsumed into new ones. Fans of cerebral sci-fi should appreciate the extent to which the author follows his inventive premise into weirder and weirder territory.
A bizarre metaphysical trip in sci-fi packaging.