Military madmen, freedom fighters, and superpowered children contend with the fulfillment of an apocalyptic prophecy on an Earth warped by alien attacks.
Lingane (Tesla Evolution, 2017, etc.) begins the Hadron Damnation sci-fi series hundreds of years into the future in the midst of an ongoing war between humankind and inscrutable parasitelike aliens. What’s left of humanity has painfully adapted, going underground under the jackboot of a military regime called the Command. Earth above is a scorched, irradiated wasteland prowled by mutants, outcast rebels, and rogue invaders (who, even when dead, wear robot exoskeletons capable of continuing their attacks). While a “Master Scientist” four centuries ago made promising advances with (suspiciously abandoned) programs of reverse-engineered alien tech, the preferred strategy of the Command is gathering intel via the cruel “Celebration” ritual, a deadly bending of time and space in which specially bred (and doomed) children exposed to the “Omega,” a captive black hole, glimpse the future. When a key prophecy begins to unfold, psychotic Gen. Grove uses the circumstances—and a pair of supernaturally gifted young people—in his own mad gambit for power and potential immortality. But, in the mucking about with the universe, alternative timelines shift like sand, leaving characters (not to mention readers) not sure quite what’s going on. “I’m filing that under incomprehensibly unbelievable,” says the macho, alcoholic, professionally and personally disgraced pilot Virgil, a misfit hero whose strenuous fight against Grove tends to morph into something like a Marvel Comics–superhero showdown or Japanese anime (the presence of mystic demigodlike adolescents among the vividly drawn characters and operatic violence fits right in with multivolume sci-fi cartoon sagas about mecha suits and science ninjas). Several mind flips throughout, right up to the to-be-continued last pages, pull the quantum rug out from under the narrative. Or as someone comments, “Reality is a bit unpredictable at the moment.” Lingane cleverly references Arthur C. Clarke at one point, though that genre grandmaster was always a lot clearer.
Sci-fi readers must brave a steep learning curve to venture down this series that promises black holes and dark matter (in every sense).