Quantum Radio: everything everywhere

I really should know what to expect when I pick up a sci-fi thriller by AG Riddle. After all, I’ve read half a dozen of them and they share a comfortable formula. Half geek: half boy’s own adventure. This means you get thoughtful speculative extrapolation based around solid contemporary scientific concepts – something of a throwback to the golden age of science fiction, in fact.

So if you were raised on – ooh, I don’t know, EE Doc Smith or Asimov – then you’ll feel right at home with the science side of things… as well as the sketchy characters and a pell-mell plot driven by preposterous coincidences. As with the very best pulp fiction, it doesn’t pay to overthink things – particularly not the wince-inducing romantic interludes or the convenient arrival of a mini-McGuffin to accelerate the story when it starts to stall. Turn off your higher faculties, kick back and enjoy the ride.

Because Quantum Radio is an entirely entertaining romp. By good fortune (or perhaps a good publishing strategy) its theme of parallel worlds is right on the zeitgeist… although the mirror universe has been kicking around in Star Trek since the late 1960s, proving the point that everything comes back into fashion eventually.

Still, who isn’t up for a multi-dimensional adventure exploring alternate histories and meeting the evil version of yourself? Plus of course that well-worn trope of ‘what would the world be like if Germany had won WW2?’ Bring on the space-Nazis!

Riddle throws in some genuinely novel concepts to give his scenario some zizz, including a totally terrifying method of global destruction. In fact, the second half of the book feels a lot like a Bond movie, infiltrating the super-villain’s secret mountain complex – and there’s also a lot of exposition where the reader is required to soak up a half century of alternate history in a single chapter. Then it’s back to sneaking around and saving the universe.

Is it fun? Yes, surely. Is it flawed? That too. But Riddle saves the day with an endearing philosophy – basically, how to succeed at public speaking by being kind – which underpins the whole confabulation. It’s all charmingly naïve, and quite refreshing for being so.

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Quantum Radio by AG Riddle is available at Amazon


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