"The Quantum Connection" by Travis S. "Doc" Taylor, Baen Publishing
Doc Taylor’s second novel, “The Quantum Connection” follows on in the same world created by Taylor in “Warp Speed”. This time however, the novel doesn’t center around Dr. Clemons and his associates, instead Taylor introduces the reader to Steven Montana, a character who’s life was profoundly changed by the events in the first book although we never new he existed in the first story.
Taylor shows Steven as a very human character. He’s a computer geek who finds that his whole family and all his friends have died as a result of a rain of meteors that killed millions around the world (readers of “Warp Speed” know the real story there). The first third of the book follows Steven’s ups and downs as he deals with this, with life and finally with a great opportunity to work for a government think tank reverse engineering foreign and sometimes possibly alien technologies.
The relationship between Steven and his dog, Lazarus, is one of the most interesting and touching parts of this novel. There are two kinds of dog owners in the world, ones for whom the dog becomes one of the family, and those for whom the dog is just another possession. Lazarus becomes Steven’s only family, and a stabilizing force for him as he deals with erratic mood swings that the doctors tell him are part of dealing with his tremendous loss. Taylor’s story uses the relationship between Steven and Lazarus as an underlying influence that helps guide Steven’s actions and it allows the reader to understand his actions when tragedy does strike.
Of course at this point the novel sounds more like “Old Yeller” than a sci-fi action story, but the build up of Steven’s relationship with Lazarus is important to this story. Taylor blends this element neatly into the plot right along with the aliens, super-technology, action and adventure that the book’s cover art suggests. The move into the “meat” of the story is actually quite sudden as the book shifts gears radically with the introduction of the before mentioned aliens and more advanced technology. This also leads to Steven’s introduction to Tatiana, a young daughter of a Russian diplomat to the U.N. who is in almost the same situation. Their relationship provides the impetus for emotional growth that all the high-tech cannot.
As has become a trademark with Taylor’s work, the technology becomes a driving force in the story. Unlike “Warp Speed” which focused on the possibilities of faster than light travel, the technical focus in “The Quantum Connection” is nano-technology and the theory of the quantum connection (hence the title of the book) between all things. Taylor brings the reader into these concepts through Steven’s own process of discovery and as the human’s understanding of the alien technology expands, so does the reader’s understanding of the underlying concepts behind it.
I’m not big on giving away a lot of the story, you should read the book for that! But I will say that some of the most interesting scenes in the book involve the interaction between Steven and Tatiana and the principle characters from “Warp Speed” as the desire to protect Earth from an alien threat brings them together. The initial meeting is fraught with misunderstanding since Steven and Tatiana are using alien technology and another high speed battle ensues that lays waste to a good portion of Earth’s moon base before it is all resolved.
Taylor’s blend of imaginative characters, technology, and an optimistic view of humanity’s potential make for a very good read. There is plenty of action and suspense to keep you turning the pages, but in the end the thing that makes “The Quantum Connection” stand out is not the science (and oddly enough, I do feel smarter for having read the book), it’s not the action and adventure; it’s the story of Steven and his dog Lazarus. Many times it is the simplest things that have the most profound affects on a person and in this case one could say that it was a man’s love for his dog that saved the world. I recommend you check out “The Quantum Connection” for yourself and see what I mean.