Classification: Alternate Reality
In Einstein’s Bridge we are introduced to George Griffen and Roger Coulton, two physicists who attempt to get the SSC (Superconducting Super Collide) up and running in order to discover the elusive Higgs Boson. Once operational, they notice a curious side effect in their experiment: a heavy particle (which they name ‘the Snark’), emerges through a microscopic wormhole – a “Bridge” – created by the collider. This should have been impossible. Even more strangely, this particle emits radioactive pulses in prime number sequences [this is in fact one way we look for Extra Terresterial Intelligence: by sending codes that could not occur in nature randomly, such as the sequence of primes). This can only mean that some kind of extra terrestrial intelligence is behind this: but from where?
As George and Roger manage to find out, these are messages sent by the Makers, alien beings from an alternate universe with a single goal: make contact with whomever they find and get them to stop doing such experiments.
How could this present any danger, George and Roger ask? The problem is that this type of experiment opens a wormhole, which – for contemporary human technology – is virtually useless, but for more advanced civilizations, it is possible to send multiple nanobots that quickly replicate and recreate whatever the aliens wish to create on the other end. Unlike the Makers, who are a friendly civilization, the Hive, a malevolent alien insectoid collective entity living in yet another alternate universe, preys on civilizations that open these wormholes. Once this occurs, quickly the planet is taken over by replicas of the Hive.
In order to assist in the preparation (and the necessary political convincing to close such a huge project), the Makers send a representative through the bridge. But is is too late: just a few days after the Maker’s arrival, the Hive discovers the bridge as well and starts sending legions of nanobots through the opening. It looks as if the Earth is doomed. But then, at the last minute, the Maker uses a capability he has not shared until this moment: he sends George and Roger back in time, gives them a few extra abilities (through alien nanotechnology) and asks them to change future events so that the SSC is never built, and thus, the Earth never meets the Hive.
Einstein’s Bridge had a very interesting plot, in particular since it combines several concepts in a unique way (aliens, alternate universes, nanotechnology, collective intelligence and time travel). The characters were interesting, and on top of that, the author clearly understands the science involved: this was truly a hard core sci-fi novel. Overall the first half of the book was really quite good.
BUT, and this is the first time I’ve ever given such a criticism: the book’s structure was simply bizarre. The weird thing about the book is that it reaches the climax somewhere halfway through the novel. The rest of the plot just.. ties loose ends (no mystery or anything). And then the book ends. Just like that. No twist, no surprise. Nothing. I’ve never read anything like this. Regardless of the plot, this is no way to write a novel! It’s quite a shame, because other than that, the book is really not bad. It just ruins much of the fun.
In summary: until the middle of the book, it is really quite good. Later it quickly deteriorates. I’d recommend either getting the book and stopping in the middle (you’ll know when you reach the part). OR come prepared for some frustrating reading. Then again, maybe the book is simply not worth it – this depends on how much the premise intrigues you.
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Tags: Aliens, Alternate reality, Collective society, Nanotechnology, Past, War