Book Review: Superposition by David Walton

Superposition by David Walton

Publisher: Pyr

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Edition: Paperback, 303 pages

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Rating: 4/5


If you don’t know what superposition is, you’re in for a treat!

Backcover:

Jacob Kelley’s family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker…apparently murdered the night before he appeared at Jacob’s house. Jacob is arrested for the murder and put on trial.

As the details of the crime slowly come to light, the weave of reality becomes ever more tangled, twisted by a miraculous new technology and a quantum creature unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. With the help of his daughter, Alessandra, Jacob must find the true murderer before the creature destroys his family and everything he loves.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion*

My first introduction to David Walton was Quintessence. I was extremely impressed with the ideas he presented in that story and I thought that the novel had a lot of promise… but the execution of those ideas was lacking and the story fell off to me. While I didn’t feel compelled to continued that trilogy, I did however feel the need to check out more of Walton’s work because of how well he set up the alchemy and magic in that novel, and I knew if he could put things together, he would write a great story. And not to toot my own horn or anything, but as you can see by my rating, I was right 😀

One night while Jacob Kelly and his family were getting ready for bed, Jacob gets a knock on his door from an old friend (associate)/fellow physicist, Brian Vanderhall. Brian looks like he might be in some kind of trouble – considering there was snow outside, and he just walked up in flip-flops and shorts.

Brian tries to tell Jacob about a break through he has had in quantum physics and to prove what he is saying isn’t a lie, he pulls out a gyroscope out of nowhere, and make it spin – without a string – and then it just keeps on spinning and spinning – both of which are physically impossible… in our universe, at least.

The next chapter starts off with Jacob on trial for the murder of Brian. The prosecution states that after Brian attempted to shoot Jacob’s wife, Jacob followed Brian to a hidden bunker and shot him multiple times there, a few hours after their altercation. The police found Jacob with the gun on him, blood from Brian on his shoes, his foot prints in Brian’s blood at the crime scene, and found him is possession of Brian’s vehicle. Sounds like case closed except for the one thing, Jacob didn’t do it.

In further trying to prove himself to Jacob, Brian does pulls a gun, point it a Clair – Jacob’s wife – and pulls the trigger. However, the bullet doesn’t hit Clair… it goes through her and into the wall directly behind her. Regardless of the physical impossibilities of that, Jacob kicks – more like punches, actually – Brian out of his house, and then goes straight to bed – nowhere else – and sleeps straight through to the morning. Yet, that is when the prosecution claims he was also supposedly killing Brian… so how could Jacob be in two places at one?

The science in this novel is superposition. Without explaining any chemistry or physics behind it, it’s Schrödinger’s cat experiment, which says that until you open the box – which has a 50/50 chance of having poison released in it – you will not know if the cat is dead or alive. Thus, until you open that box, the cat is both dead and alive simultaneously. To really oversimply things, whatever decision you don’t make here, you did in another universe. For example, if I have to pick between a Coke and Pepsi, and I pick Pepsi, some other version of me grabbed the Coke; I chose to keep my hair growing long, so some other me got it cut. There is nearly a limitless amount of possibilities, because until you make a decision, there is an equal probability for every possible outcome imaginable to happen.

Despite how “hard” the science is in the story, it was an easy read. I wasn’t stuck with a headache trying to figure things out, while the mystery was passing me by. Believe it or not, all the science here is basic chemistry – well it is physics, but atomic theory and different spins I learned in chemistry – and it may seem intimidating, but even if I did not already know this stuff, I would have had no problem understanding it thanks to Walton. There is no giant info-dump, where Walton takes a whole chapter to explain this stuff. Walton instead, takes his time explain the science, bit by bit as needed in the story – so not to overwhelm to the reader – and uses perfect examples to do this; so even if you can’t understand the science behind everything, you will easily be able to understand and grasp the concepts.

The biggest surprise for me was how complicated and full of surprises the plot was. It’s a thriller, so I was expecting a couple twists and turns, but we just kept getting twist after twist after twist! A couple I could predict coming, but there was a BIG one that completely blew my mind! In theory, there could be an absurdly complex plot using superposition, but to the best of my knowledge, Walton keeps everything straight.

The mystery at first, seems to be pretty straight forward, but you quickly release that there is a much, much larger picture than simply trying to figure out if Jacob really did do it, and how he will prove his innocence. What help to build the mystery is alternating chapters. We have “Up Spin” chapters that follow Jacob from that start with when Brian first comes to his house, and then we have “Down Spin” chapters which follow Jacob as he is beginning to be prosecuted for murder. So you already know that he gets arrested, and get to follow the plot of how he is to prove his innocence, and then you have other plot where you are wondering what went wrong and how he ended in jail.

The only thing I felt was lacking was with the characters. It was strange; I thought Jacob was a sympathetic character, and had a great amount of development with a good background story, but he didn’t feel all the unique to the story. Same goes with the side characters too – but I would have liked more development with them. I still built up a connection to all the characters, but there was no empathy for them. That might have been a person problem though? Like I said: good development, but it felt like I had already read these characters from other stories.

To get to the point: the reason this story is great is because of the science Walton decided to use – the superposition – and how extremely well he was able to execute it into the story. (He nailed it!) I can’t say enough about how well he uses the science in the story. There so much I more I want to say about how he used superposition to do this and that to the plot and mystery and just everything in the story! But i can’t because it was spoil 😦 I can say this though: that aside from the quantum technology the story is focused, Walton’s creates a very plausible, near-future world with fascinating gadgets and gizmos! And that  breakthrough Brian was originally trying tell Jacob out, was about quantum intelligence… this creature called a vorcolac. 

If you like science fiction, this is for you. If like mysteries, this is for you. If you like thrillers, this is for you. It is an amazing blend of all those three genres, and execution of superposition is spot on!

This is a much improved novel since Quintessence, and the kind of story I knew Walton was able to write! Can’t wait for the sequel!

4/5 Rating

-DJ

Date Read: 08/06/15 - 08/09/15
Review Written: 08/16/15
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9 thoughts on “Book Review: Superposition by David Walton

  1. I do like when there is a good integration of science into a story 🙂 May give this one a try at some point.

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  2. Tammy says:

    I’m excited to read this! The publisher sent me Supersymmetry, which is the 2nd book, but she told me they can be read out of order. I do love science and I can’t wait to try out this author:-)

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    • I’m about halfway through that right now! There are going to be some spoilers for book 1 in Supersymmerty – obviously – but it definitely works as a stand alone. I’m liking it just as much as the first one, so far! I’ll look forward to reading your review 🙂

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  3. Ah, Pyr just sent the finished copy of book two this week! I’ve been meaning to get to this all summer and actually meant to read it before the sequel. Oh well, this just means I can jump into Supersymmetry right away then 🙂

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  4. […] Book Review: Superposition by David Walton […]

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