Middle books in trilogies are tricky, but this taut science-fiction thriller pulls it off with panache.
The mysterious teenage girl Lah Lia keeps reappearing at pivotal moments of Tucker Feye’s chaotic adventures across time; now, following her own journey through the “disko” portals sheds clarity upon the various rival factions contending through the forthcoming epochs. From her pampered childhood, raised as a sacrifice, to the end of human history, Lia witnesses the early days of the Boggsian technological cult and their transcendence into the spectral tourist Klaatu; the heyday of digitocratic Medicant healers and their persecution at the hands of the fanatically anti-numerate Lah Sept; and the rebellion of the ruthless Yar women against the corrupt priests of her own time. Lia matures from a clever but passive observer to a tough-minded, compassionate and principled actor, determined to take charge of her own life—even if that means rewriting the past. While by no means a stand-alone, the narrative intersperses chapters recounting Tucker’s interrogation by Cold War–era Arctic explorers to recap important details and ground the more exotic future scenarios. This device also drives the plot, as the two protagonists strive independently to reconnect. When they meet again in the final pages, it is clear that the past is beginning to unravel, and all history is about to break loose.
Hautman continues to write mind-expanding adventures and nail-biting suspense to probe big questions of faith, destiny and personal responsibility. The next book can’t come soon enough. (Science fiction. 12 & up)