The Quantum Connection

Reviewer: Jake Beal

Author: Travis S. Taylor

Published: 2005

Reviewed: 2009-08-10

Publisher: Baen Books

At least it was over quickly. Mr. Taylor may not be a very good
writer, but he's at least light reading, and "The Quantum Connection"
is the literary equivalent of a junk food snack. Probably pork rinds,
given the Southern, red-neck, and proud of it nature of the
characters. And you know, some people will think this book is
absolutely delicious---certainly fans of John Ringo (who is on its
back cover to recommend it) will probably find it close enough to
their taste. After all, there's a prodigious amount of humans kicking
alien ass and posturing. And yes, the words "kicking ass" or close
variants appear all over, just in case we didn't understand what was
going on.

As for me? I didn't like it at all. I dunno, maybe it's a blue-state
thing, but I just didn't find it all that compelling to have the
characters immediately respond to any beings they find threatening by
first insulting their appearance, then kicking their asses, then
torturing them, then killing them. And you know what? They always
turn out to have been absolutely right to have done so. Funny that,

The biggest problem, though, is that the main characters get ahold of
what is effectively a wishing machine about one third of the way
through the book, and at that point anything resembling story stops
and Mr. Taylor basically just spends the rest of the book making stuff
up and telling us how totally awesome all of his awesome ideas are.
And nothing ever actually goes wrong, and all of the characters who
are supposed to like each other just magically do, and trust each
other instinctively as soon as it would be convenient for the story.

Then there's the mind-bogglingly dumb top-secret barbecue meeting, the
disease of round numbers ("a microsecond" "one million times the speed
of light" "one hundred thousand ships" "one thousand meter columns"
"one thousand light years"), the trailer park on the moon, the
randomly wandering narrative and a host of lesser frustrations.

The homages, though, are the worst part. I'm fine with a computer
getting named "Mike" as an explicit reference to Heinlein's "The Moon
is a Harsh Mistress." I'm not fine with a recommended official
problem-solving approach being to figure out whether one's current
situation has been addressed by a Star Trek episode. The book is
saturated with references to other science fiction, always praising
it, and it's just all so indiscriminate that I can't help feeling that
if I were one of the authors called out by name, I would be insulted
by the company I kept.

But I think it's got an audience. Some people think pork rinds are
awfully tasty, and if you want to just shut off your mind for a bit,
play fantasy wish-fulfillment games, and watch humans kick alien ass
with an omniscient accountant keeping score ("A full second and a half
had passed at this point and I had killed more than thirteen of the
little bastards.") then this is your book. You're welcome to it.