Two pals continue their quest for scientific and religious truths while their friends prepare for major life changes in Dimond’s sequel to By Accident or Design (2014).
Michael and his trusted confidant, John Bran, or “Oats” to his friends, begin the next phase of their odyssey with an exploration of the theories of Isaac Newton. During their previous adventures, Oats discovered Newton’s theories of gravity and motion, culminating in the opportunity to witness the scientist’s debates with three of his friends. Although the duo enjoyed the meetings, Oats has the nagging suspicion that critical information was intentionally withheld. Oats believes this data lies with a pilgrim who attended the meeting but never spoke. The pair wants to find the pilgrim; however, Michael and Oats must also examine the interplay between religion and science. Meanwhile, they learn from Pim, a spirit image and Michael’s longtime counsel, that their mission may be affected by an impending galaxy exchange. Aided by their friends, including Mharn, Janet, Marmuron, and Mykron, the two comrades seek an Oracle in the village of Benlay, while Oats gains insights into religious history through regression analysis. Along the way, Oats reflects on his relationship with Marmuron while Mykron rediscovers a lost love. The novel seamlessly follows the groundwork laid in the four previous books; but this may be a tenuous starting point for a new reader to the series. As in Dimond’s preceding installment, Michael and Oats engage here in numerous philosophical and religious discussions. Their debates, although lengthy, are never dull and include a variety of viewpoints and perspectives. While the central plot focuses on a hunt for religious truth, the development of Oats and Marmuron’s relationship and Mykron’s reunion with lover Velia provide a poignant counterbalance and added character depth. The author presents a rather unusual mix of philosophy, religion, and sci-fi, but he offers some clarity in the form of extended summaries of previous novels and character profiles.
Readers who have followed Michael and Oats’ long search will likely enjoy this latest installment, but newcomers to the series should start at the beginning.