Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I feel stupid...

Sing it like Maria!

I feel stupid!  I feel naïve!  I feel brainless, and doltish, and diiiiiiiiiim!

I do not like that feeling.  There are certain instances in which it is acceptable (and even preferable) for an author to make the reader feel a bit dense.  When I was in college, I went through this mega-physics phase after I got into reading space opera and Alastair Reynolds, so I decided to read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.  I now have a vague approximation of What Quantum Mechanics and String Theory Is Sort Of About, but I would never dream of saying that I actually understand it.  I also like it very much when an author pulls off a twist ending that is totally shocking and yet believable within the context of the story.  

But I finished two books back-to-back that made me feel like I missed the memo somewhere.  The first one I'll discuss is Deep Sky, by Patrick Lee.


The more I work in libraries and work with children, the more I realize how strongly visual I am in my learning style.

I feel that in order to adequately explain this series, I would need an infographic.  So HERE YOU GO:

The idea of a "Breach" that sends through bizarre, mostly useless, but sometimes really, really cool technology is intriguing.  And the breach item that Travis Chase and his paramour/head of Tangent, Paige Campbell, use in this book is pretty cool.  It's called "The Tap" and it allows you to access a memory and then move around in the world of that memory.  It's also heinously painful to use, but such is the price of alien technology.  

Anyway, in the beginning of the novel, a military dude fires a missile from a camouflaged silo.  It hits the White House while the President is giving an address.  The note left for investigators has only two words: "See Scalar."

Well, as it conveniently turns out, there was a super secret project within the already deep, deep black Tangent community with which (also super conveniently) Paige's father was involved.  It was called Scalar.  Unfortunately, almost everyone related to Scalar is dead, and all the notes are gone.  Paige's protégée, a tech wizard named Bethany (okay, confession: I really like that the author gave a character strong tech skills without turning her into a "hot geek" stereotype) tracks down a former Tangent employee who has assumed a new identity and is living in Ouray, Colorado.

Hey!  Ouray!  I've been going there on vacation since I was a kid!  In the ensuing scuffle over the Tangent operative's life (because obviously someone else found out about her and sent a team in advance), there is a) a snowstorm and b) a chase with guns.  Now look.  Ouray is gorgeous.  But it's specified that the operative has an isolated cabin.  I would rate the grade of roads to people's cabins around Ouray as "rollercoaster."  Or maybe "San Francisco."  The idea of Travis & Co. peeling out of there to escape the bad guys during a snowstorm is totally unbelievable, unless they were going like five miles an hour.

Okay, anyway, so it turns out that then Travis & Co. have to get to a remote lake north of San Francisco.  Also, the Vice President is evil and bombed Tangent and destroyed the base.  En route to the lake town, where yet another associate of Paige's father lived, Travis has a really weird dream that the President is being held captive (wait, isn't he dead?) and gives Travis a code.  Unfortunately, Travis has no idea what the code is for, and chalks it all up to stress.  

Even more unfortuantely, the V.P.'s military cronies beat T & Co. to the chase (ha ha pun!) yet again.  Once in town, the gang meets a diner owner who inexplicably agrees to help them, and sends them up past the house being guarded into an old mine shaft with woo-woo stories about it.  After once again miraculously evading scores of guys armed with machine guns, T & Co. drop down the mine shaft, where Travis saves them all by entering the code from his dream.  Now, having encountered a lot of Breach Entities, Travis and Bethany are really used to weird stuff going down, but this is dang weird. They do ... more stuff in the shaft, and discover that the mysterious man was actually protecting a second Breach.  


Miraculously, one of the maybe-dead-President's Secret Service bodyguards shows up and helpfully infodumps the entire Big Secret for Travis and the reader.  Part of this Big Secret (which I will discuss later on) is that Travis will enter the Breach.  Various other things ensue and just as T & Co. are about to rescue the President (who is, yes, alive, but held captive on Air Force One by the Evil Vice President) ...

Travis wakes up.  YES.  In true Dallas fashion, it has all been a memory constructed using the Tap.  Travis is being interrogated along with the President aboard Air Force One, and Paige and Bethany are held captive.  Obviously, since they are women, the Evil Vice President doesn't think they can have anything useful to add.

So, obviously Our Hero kills the bad guys and makes it to the Breach just in time to crawl through ... into the future.

Wait, what?  So here's the deal: the President has known about this all along.  The entire Scalar operation was meant to somehow get Travis into Tangent, except he got himself into Tangent by creating the Whisper some time in the future and sending it back to himself, while a future version of Paige sends a message to kill Travis Chase.  So literally the entire setup of this book (who/what is Scalar and what were they doing?) is rendered null and void by Chase's future actions, which affect the past so that he joins Tangent early.

Still with me?

It's okay if you're not.  I'm just winging this now.

In the near future, a project funded by the President discovers a cure for aging, which allows him (President Garner) and Travis Chase to stay young forever, get on a spaceship, and fly off to a new world.  In the meantime, they set up events so that wormholes created by an unknown race of beings will be activated by Tangent.  These wormholes are one-way streets.  The whole let's-get-Travis-involved thing is so that future Travis and current Travis can turn the wormholes into two-way streets, allowing the Highly Advanced Super Humans of the Future! to come back in time and kill all the people who will eventually ruin the world.  All Travis has to do is recite a string of numbers.

The book ends with him saying that he'd never keep a secret from Paige and that she'd understand.  I guess that means he's going to open the wormholes but ... I don't know!  Was there some hidden clue that I missed?  What is going on here?

Deep Sky is, at least, an entertaining book and a quick read.  Just don't think about anything that's actually going on because it will shatter around you like the Matrix.

Let's just say I really just want to read the sequel to Runner and forget that Deep Sky ever happened.  I could use the Tap for that...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I loved the first two books and just read Deep Sky. I felt stupid. What the heck? Did the whisper have control over future Travis maybe? I don't know. I wish he would have written more at the end. Not like the first two books for sure.

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