Have Wormhole, Will Travel

Have Wormhole, Will Travel - Tony McFadden

 

[I got this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

To be fair, I got it a couple of months ago, perhaps a little more, and should probably have read and reviewed it sooner, but... Oh, well.

I liked the basic idea: an alien race has been monitoring Earth (as well as other planets) to make sure none would develop interstellar travel—wormholes would allow just that. It seems we puny humans have a reputation of pillaging barbarians, so they don't want us anywhere near their home. As a result, their agents have been on planet for centuries, squashing out scientific discoveries (such as cold fusion) as soon as they hit a little too close to home, so to speak. Callum and Jason (we can assume those aren't their real names) are two such agents, currently living in Sydney, and so when Professor Sam Sheppard stumbles upon the perfect theory to create instant means of travel by way of wormholes, it's up to them to report to their own bosses and try to fix the problem... or not.

(I won't pass judgment on the science aspect. String theory isn't my forte, and I honestly wouldn't know if what was mentioned in the novel was true to real science or not.)

This premise raised interesting ethical questions, because the aliens are ready to wipe out all human beings just out of fear (but we are the ruthless barbarians). I definitely would've wanted to see this developed some more, especially considering the method used in the attempt to save our planet, because there was strong potential in that. On the one hand, it probably would've made for a less funny story; on the other hand, the comical aspects weren't that funny for me, so I guess that's why I wouldn't have minded. The novel didn't do anything for me in that regard, and I felt at times that it didn't know where to go, whether to be comical or lean towards more serious science-fiction.

The plot was also a bit disjointed here and there, though nothing that prevented me from following what was happening. There was a lot of dialogue and not that many descriptions, so at times it was a little difficult to picture places and people. I'm usually not for long descriptions anyway, but I admit some more this time would have helped.

The characters, to be honest, left me cold. The three girls convinced that Jacob and Callum were vampires made me smile at first; however, their antics tended to become tiring, and I wasn't sure in the end what was the point, since one of them is only really important because of where she lives, another is simply comic relief, and they were interchangeable. Same with Sheppard, insufferable prick as he was. Though I get those characters were likely meant to be on the cliché side for the sake of poking fun at clichés, it was hard to actually care about them, and consequently about the fate of Earth and how everything would end. They came off as mean and/or stupid more than anything else. Also, Callum definitely pulls a TSTL: 

what's the point of being here to stop Sheppard if you give him the means to create wormholes by accidentally doodling equations on a sheet of paper right under his nose? Hadn't he done that, the problem would've been solved from the beginning.

(show spoiler)

I don't like it when a plot rests on such "happenings" that aren't too believable.

Some more background about the aliens would've been welcome, too. Since one of them appears to lean towards

a relationship with a human being

(show spoiler)

, I expected something to explain it. Their race as a whole brushes off humans as expendable, after all.

All in all, as I said, I liked the idea about wormholes, and the book was in itself an easy read. Unfortunately, the unsavory characters, a couple of plot holes, and the way the story seemed to hesitate between "comical" and "actually serious" didn't allow me to enjoy this novel more.