cover image Red Tide

Red Tide

Larry Niven, Brad R. Torgersen, and Matthew J. Harrington. Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick, $14.99 trade paper (214p) ISBN 978-1-61242-132-2

This collaborative creation—two chapters by longtime SF author Niven, followed by one each from relative newcomers Torgersen and Harrington—depicts a future where the ease of instant travel leads to significant social problems. The writers trace the evolution of the JumpShift teleportation technology alongside the story of 24-year-old aspiring newstaper Barry Jerome Jansen, aka Jerryberry. He collaborates with brilliant physicist Robin Whyte, the last surviving developer of JumpShift, to solve the problem of “flash riots,” which cost JerryBerry his job. Their relationship provides a narrative peg for the ever-wilder adventures that occur as a teen’s travels go off-kilter due to a bent jumpcard and a misdirected dog thrusts Whyte into the hands of kidnapping hackers. This distant future also offers fractured English, time travel, and hyperintelligent cats. The discordant split between the Jerryberry-Whyte story and the history of teleportation suggests that the writers focused less on the macrocosmic effects of the transformational technology than on the almost offhand ways in which it changed society, destroying some industries and developing others. The lighthearted tone provides diversion, but fails to unify the independently written sections. (Oct.)