A light sci-fi romance, apt reading material for watching the waves (or particles) at the beach.



A Colorado university physicist learns she can warp reality with mind power alone, but when news of her talent leaks, a rash of “quantum crimes” hits Boulder and beyond.

Smith (Kat Cubed, 2016, etc.) announces the creation of a new sci-fi series with this takeoff on the notion that at the minuscule, quantum-physics level, an elementary piece of matter could either be a particle or a wave, open to the influence of an outside observer. What if that either/or quality of reality persisted on the macroscopic scale? In Boulder, Madison Martin, a young, newly arrived university physicist, impulsively avoids becoming roadkill in a car mishap by choosing a quantum outcome in which she wasn’t struck at all. To bystanders, the injured Madison simply blurs away and an untouched one appears among them. Madison never knew she possessed this ability. Lab tests determine it is (somewhat) reproducible and (somewhat) controllable—the somewhats contingent on the heroine’s mood and especially the presence of hunky fellow faculty member Andro Rivas, a distraction from Madison’s failing long-distance relationship with a boyfriend back East. At one point, her quantum concentration (“q-collapse”) creates a large, very symbolic opening in the cinder block wall to Andro’s office, making him a believer. But q-collapse can be wielded by anyone with training and physics moxie; soon Madison’s amoral students, having posted the secret online, are carving holes in bank vaults and otherwise perpetuating “quantum crimes” in Boulder and elsewhere. Incidental dialogue hangs a “quantum cop” tag on Madison (even though it’s her cousin who has the campus security job) as she and Andro fight the callow villains with energy bolts, teleportation, and telekinesis—all godlike stuff deftly explained as extrapolations of the quantum flux, including having boxed condoms materialize for a romantic interlude. Smith is a scientist (and sci-fi editor) and follows up the breezy narrative with a quick quantum mechanics essay. While it may seem stereotypical to spectral-analyze this lively novel as chick lit, there are indeed all the trace elements of the genre, including a college-science environment where nearly everybody is young and hot (just one humorless, gray-haired department chair) and game for making clothes dematerialize. Smith name-checks Arthur C. Clarke, whose Tales from the White Hart collection had similar playful takes on science but starred old, male fuddy-duddies.

A light sci-fi romance, apt reading material for watching the waves (or particles) at the beach.

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9861350-2-6

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Quarky Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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