Three hundred pages of reading about people
pressing buttons and recording what lamps do would make tedious reading. Having
figured out what the rules were, I built around them the kind of character and
problem situations that make up a novel. They involve a swarm of microscopic black
holes orbiting through the solid matter of the Earth, a lethal virus released
by a meteor impact on an orbiting isolation lab, and a pair of lovers finding
each other through highly improbably circumstances on one time-line, only to lose
each other again when it reconstructs into something else. Outwardly, the kinds
of thing that readers can care about and relate to. But beneath the camouflage,
the underlying mechanics follows the same rules that apply to the buttons and
Murdoch Ross, a young American physicist of
Scottish descent, and his close friend and business partner, Lee Walker, travel
to Scotland in response to a call from Murdoch's grandfather, Charles. In his
private laboratory housed in a Scottish castle, Charles has concluded a line
of investigation that he commenced during many years of fruitful scientific
research in the U.S. by successfully sending information back through time.
The arrivals are incredulous, but a few simple demonstrations show them that
some of the most cherished precepts of scientific thought have been demolished.
They join Charles and a close group of friends in conducting a rigorous series
of experiments to try to determine the bizarre logic that underlies the possibility
of sending messages backward to change the causes of events that have already
happened. In the course of this, Murdoch meets and falls in love with Anne Patterson,
a trainee doctor at the nearby, gigantic, Burghead heavy ion fusion plant constructed
by a European Consortium and about to commence live testing.
Disaster strikes when unforeseen consequences
of taking the high-energy reactions at Burghead into a new realm of energy density
turns out to have consequences that could end the future of the entire planet.
While officials and government scientists debate and express skepticism toward
the new physics that results in these conclusion, Murdoch discovers that conditions
are deteriorating even faster than was anticipated, and only immediate, unauthorized
use of Charles's machine to warn the past can offer any hope of averting catastrophe.
He and Anne alone must make the decision. But in acting on it, they know they
risk changing the unforeseen of history into a new one in which they might never