Dangerous new technology is deployed in Britain to prove that telepathy is possible in this sci-fi debut.
The citizens of Exeter in southwest England have noticed a strange hum. It occurs daily and seems to give people headaches as well as cause them to hear sounds and see flashes of light. Many believe the new Energy Recovery Facility is the source. One witness to the mob demanding answers from the plant is the “Leather Jacket Man,” who’s experiencing increased voices in his head—yet he isn’t sure whom to blame. The truth is that Project Blue Crystal, based in the United States, has followed the intense signal of a telepathic receiver—whether it be a person or place—to Exeter. The project has set up an electromagnetic pulse generator, designed by Australian scientist Kingsley Khan, in a secure location unbeknown to the British government. Blue Crystal is also testing a quantum-entanglement machine, created by Canadian scientist Henning Horlicks, near the Cedars mental hospital. The group believes that people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality have great potential as telepathic receivers. Blue Crystal’s experiment grows more complicated when two security guards at Kingsley’s facility are struck down by the EM pulse. His superiors in the United States order him to shoot the fallen guards to cover up any harm done by the hum. Ridler’s novel explores the overlap between science and Eastern mysticism in that “blue is the colour of the throat chakra, and so is associated with clear communication.” While the Leather Jacket Man initially seems like an enthralling protagonist, the author puts Kingsley, Henning, and lawyer Julia Barnes in the spotlight instead. The strange events in Britain are placed in dramatic context by the line “Exeter will be the new Roswell.” And even though President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron frequently exchange stern words, the narrative tension falters when Ridler’s principal trio enjoys Exeter like tourists (test-driving an Aston Martin, for example). Overall, this story almost reads like a screenplay, with focused dialogue but choppy scene setting. Nevertheless, the central premise captivates and Exeter is portrayed attractively.
An intriguing but uneven tale in search of how telepathy works.