cover image Nucleation


Kimberly Unger. Tachyon, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61696-338-5

Thought-provoking technology and well-paced intrigue do most of the heavy lifting in Unger’s clever but uneven debut. Elite waldo operator Helen Vectorovich is remotely piloting a robot on a routine assignment to the deep space construction site of a jump gate when she discovers an anomaly in the construction nanites. Then an impossible interference in the quantum feed connecting Helen’s waldo to both her physical body and her navigator, Ted, both planetside in Launch City, brings the mission to an abrupt end and leads to Ted’s death. In the aftermath of the mission failure, Unger draws readers into the competitive world of waldo operators as Helen battles vicious gossip blaming her for the tragedy. Amid an investigation into possible corporate espionage, Helen unearths a clue in an abandoned asteroid mine that suggests alien contact may be the more likely cause for the disastrous quantum interference. Though science fiction fans will be captivated by Unger’s smart, plausible vision of the future of space travel, especially the elegant solution of utilizing quantum entanglement to communicate across light years, the first contact scenario is less well defined, bringing this immersive sci-fi thriller to a murky close. Still, Unger offers readers plenty to chew on. Agent: Laurie McLean, Fuse Literary. (Nov.)