In McCluskey’s ((Physics and Astronomy/Washington State University; Dopants and Defects in Semiconductors, 2012) debut novel, a levelheaded professor and a corrupt business tycoon go head-to-head over a “failed” experiment, which, in fact, has the potential to destroy the world.
Mike Harris is a member of the physics department of small, newly established Colton University. Its founder, Henry Colton, is a lover of science but also a man involved in many lucrative projects, with his life goal of being the world’s first trillionaire. Mike, meanwhile, is living the life of a run-of-the-mill, middle-aged academic, conducting research, getting over heartbreak, living life as a single man in a college town. With his colleagues at the university, he completed an experiment intended to synthesize a black hole. But the results seemed weak, so Mike considered his findings inadequate. As a young writer arrives to conduct an interview on their research, an explosion sets fire to the lab, killing several members of the department. It isn’t until his ex-fiancee is murdered that Mike is suspected as an armed and dangerous criminal and consequently blamed for the incident at the lab. Apparently, his blunder of an experiment held true value, and now Colton and his associates want to harness its destructive power for use as a catalyst in starting a rejuvenated society. The novel spans 10 days: On Day One, the researchers can’t fathom the magnitude of their findings, but in a final showdown, Earth’s existence rests on Mike’s and his team’s shoulders. The action-packed book is rather dense, with numerous characters turning on each other in one chapter and then re-establishing trust in the next. Heavy on back-and-forth dialogue, the narrative features little back story on its characters, so even with frequent catastrophic events, there’s not much of an emotion pull. Still, McCluskley’s scientific background comes through in his passionate yet objective writing style and his skillful treatment of physics as a whole.
Fun and frantic, with ample scientific backing.