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REVIEW: Twistor by John Cramer

REVIEW SUMMARY: Excellent, page-turning hard sf thriller


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A physicist accidentally invents a device that opens doors into a parallel dimension.

PROS: Believable science; clear, logical writing style.
CONS: slightly open-ended conclusion.
BOTTOM LINE: An excellent story that kept me turning pages

Here’s what happens when a scientist attempts to write a piece of science fiction: it’s good! Physicist John Cramer’s first novel, Twistor, written in 1989, is a fantastic, page-turning blend of hard science fiction, parallel dimensions and corporate intrigue.

Dr. David Harrison is a physicist who accidentally creates a device that swaps matter from our world into a parallel dimension using a ‘twistor’ effect. The discovery does not go unnoticed by evil corporation Megalith Corporation, who is already involved in shady dealings with Harrison’s boss. A botched attempt by Megalith’s goons to confiscate the device sends Harrison and his friend’s two children into a parallel dimension.

Tech geeks will immediately be attracted and entertained by the book’s pervasive descriptions and use of the scientific method. Harrison’s actions are so logical and realistic that’s it’s a wonder more sf characters don’t employ the technique. OK, sure, it mostly takes place in a university physics lab where such deduction is the norm, but it still lends an air of credibility, and a higher suspension of disbelief, to the fictional science presented. And speaking of science, the story uses a fair amount of real, present-day science which is delineated from the fictional in an enlightening afterward. The pre-explosion Internet also plays a major role in the story. (Add 10 geek points.)

The characters were well portrayed. Harrison’s friend Paul is a theoretical physicist (what a good gig) and helps Harrison develop his theories. Harrison bright, young intern, Victoria, is not the stereotypical sidekick. The inevitable spark between her and Harrison is well-portrayed and does not interfere with the story. Other characters are equally well-written.

The story moves along a reasonable pace except for the ongoing thread where Harrison tells a symbolic Jack in the Beanstalk story to the kids. But that’s a minor nit; within the thread, the story was interesting’it just interrupted the main story line. Most of the time, I was anxiously turning the page to see what happened next. The writing style made that easy to do.

Since the story’s premise is revealed on the book jacket, the reader knows what Harrison has stumbled upon way before Harrison himself does. But I still found myself captivated by Harrison’s deductive reasoning and his approach to obtaining even more illuminating data. And the parallel world parts were also nicely done.

The ending was somewhat up in the air but satisfying. I can’t really say more about that without spoiling it for those who have not read it. And this is a book that all hard sf fans should read.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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