Michael Offut’s Slipstream

on August 6, 2012 in Misc

Any book that begins with a teenager saying, “Last night, I died for the third time this week,” gets my attention.  But I was really hooked when this teenager ponders his physics class lesson by combining Schrodinger’s Cat with speculations about God being forced to use angels to travel between dimensions because of the quantum laws he created, and the effects of “the one consciousness out there that we all happen to share.”

Slipstream is an exciting science fiction adventure story that dares to expand the genre with inspirations from mythology, theology, horror, a touch of Arthurian legends, and a technological twist to Carl Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious.

It begins with an orphaned teenager, Jordan Pendragon, who lives with his sister in Utah.  He’s a good student and a superb hockey player, but by the end of the first chapter his life is forever changed: a car accident puts him in a coma, and when he emerges from it he sees a mysterious Englishman invisible to everyone else.  He also discovers that he can “slipstream” himself in space-time.  When another “unreal” and much more threatening man trespasses into Jordan’s life, the story takes off.  Jordan and his sister Kathy are about to cross from Earth into the parallel world of Avalon.

Avalon and Earth are similar worlds that occupy the same space in two different dimensions,” Offut explains.  The destruction of Avalon began with shock waves from the first atomic blast in 1945 Earth.  The society that rises from the ashes is Earth-like and recognizable, but also dystopian, futuristic, and even more violent and ruthless.  (My own favorite touch: the exorbitant cost of medical care and the cold-hearted means an Avalon hospital will use to collect on a debt.) In this Brave New World there are vampires, succubi, crystal spiders, ghost robots and grotesque monsters, all of them the results of engineering and biologic augmentation.  There is the obsession with youth and the desperate, deadly pursuit of a life force that can be drained from the young and sold to the highest bidder – a fact that makes Jordan, with his precious “Green Life,” a prime target.  There is, most important of all, a human-invented God in the form of an A.I. that makes this society run.

Michael Offut clearly has the scientific knowledge and vision to create a fascinating and complicated world that is spinning out of control and “phasing together” with Earth.  When Jordan discovers that he is the chosen hero (or as I’d call him, the messiah) who must save Avalon, he infiltrates it by joining one of its professional hockey teams (yes, there’s some humor in this, and it works). Because he can control the “slipstream” of time and space when he’s out on the ice, he becomes a sports star, but in this dangerous world that’s not always a good thing.  In his corner is his sister, who proves to be strong and courageous and doesn’t hesitate to put on a “killsuit” to go into battle.  After all, they’re orphans who have long since learned to be tough and self-reliant. Several intriguing Avalon characters plot and fight with them, including the mysterious Englishman who becomes a romantic figure to Jordan.  But can Jordan trust him?

Slipstream is a wonderful first book in a trilogy, which is good news to me because Michael has created growing and changing characters I want to follow.  He has also written a thrilling storyline that’s too good to be confined to a single volume, and he isn’t afraid to ask questions about the “gods” we create to fulfill our needs, and the dark side of these gods when we make them in our image.  Avalon is a cautionary tale of what Earth will become like if we lose our souls and humanity. 

If you enjoy not only excellent science fiction but a rattling good yarn in any genre, you’ll want to read Slipstream.

10 Responses to “Michael Offut’s Slipstream”

  1. Michael will be happy with that review!

  2. Helena says:

    Michael – He deserved it.

  3. Thank you so much Helena! And yes, I’m very happy with the review hehe. It made my day! You are so wonderful *hugs

  4. Helena says:

    Michael – Right back at ya. And what a wild imagination you have!

  5. Ciara Knight says:

    Great review. Michael wrote an amazing story!

  6. Helena says:

    Ciara – He did indeed.

  7. I’m hearing so many great things about Slipstream, but I haven’t read it yet. On my list.

  8. Helena says:

    Carol – My own list keeps growing and growing.

  9. Old Kitty says:

    Love your fab review and especially the jewel encrusted spiders (on the book cover and your pic)!! They totally grab my attention! Take care

  10. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – The only kind of spiders I like are Michael’s jewel-encrusted ones.