One of the great pleasures of science fiction is watching the mundane be transformed by a vigorous application of cutting-edge (to the general audience, at least) scientific theory. By such a standard, David Walton’s first book, Superposition, was a true joyride. Though the book was by no means the first quantum theory-infused piece of sci-fi, Walton’s bear-hug embrace of this particular field transformed the murder-mystery genre it otherwise inhabited. Whereas most authors are content to use some aspect of quantum theory as a jumping-off point for their stories—a spice giving a tale that sci-fi taste—Walton made the field and its implications the main ingredient. It worked. The energetic unspooling of quantum consequences made Superposition a page-turner in spite of its one-dimensional characters and occasionally implausible “real-world” sequences.
In Supersymmetry, Walton returns to the near-future world of Jacob Kelley and his family, this time focusing on his now-adult daughters, Alex and Sandra. Alex and Sandra are more than twins: They are actually two versions of the same person, an as-yet uncollapsed wave-form of two quantum potentialities left over by the events of the first book.
When it becomes clear that the varcolac, the other-dimensional intelligence that brought them about in the first place, is once again threatening their world, Alex and Sandra are forced to confront both it and their own fears. (Having two “yous” that could return to one at any moment brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “identity crisis.”)
With Supersymmetry, Walton shows that he has a firm grasp on what exactly made Superposition so enjoyable for readers. His latest is filled with multiple dimensions, Higgs singlets and a host of other quantum characteristics and applications. The stakes, as one expects, are higher, even as some of what made the varcolac so compelling—its immense otherness—is diminished a bit by some on-the-nose explanations of purpose and goal. Nonetheless, most readers will find that Supersymmetry’s pages turn just as fast as those of its predecessor.