A debut novel follows two characters in their own time periods who are each outfitted with a potent object.
In late 17th-century England, Elizabeth’s mathematician father, Owens Blake, trusts her to deliver a package to Sir Isaac Newton. But she turns around after spotting strangers heading in the direction of her farm. She discovers the family property in flames, her mother and little brother gone, and her father dead. According to a farmhand, Owens had refused to reveal to the strangers the location of a particular item. Elizabeth later unwraps the package and a device inside activates, surprisingly attaching itself to her back. In 2018 Canada, Mikael heads to Bryo, a research lab, for an internship but instead becomes an unwitting participant in an experiment: His spinal cord is replaced with an unusual object. Luckily, a doctor helps him escape the lab and explains that the device allows Mikael to “influence the laws of physics.” Both he and Elizabeth are pursued by nefarious groups that resort to lethal means to retrieve the item. Meanwhile, the superpowered protagonists slowly master new skills, like subverting gravity and effectively walking on the ceiling. Olejarz’s clever and entertaining series opener is rife with intelligent notions often relayed in layperson’s terms without oversimplification. Manipulating fundamental forces, for example, may stem from a “mysterious energy” or an unknown element that surrounds everything. The author alternates between time periods with ease, with the storylines’ similarities (for example, the two protagonists dodging baddies and likely using the same object) giving the overall plot cohesion. Intermittent displays of the device’s capabilities fuel the narrative’s momentum while descriptions are occasionally lyrical: “Science is a lighthouse in a fog filled with beliefs.” Subsequent installments of the sci-fi series will hopefully address the device’s specific origin and perhaps reveal a stronger connection between the two protagonists and time periods other than the enigmatic object.
An intellectual, stylish, and brisk sci-fi tale.