The Bottom Line: An epic techno/sci-fi thriller that will have readers clamoring for a sequel.
British investor Ethan Rae has purportedly created one of the world’s most exciting new technologies: teleportation (known as LEAP). But hours after he presents a live demonstration to two prominent journalists, both are killed in what was intended to look like a car accident. But the moment Ethan sees the news on TV, he knows the timing of their death is no coincidence.
In LEAP, author OC Heaton has taken a futuristic technology, popularized in the original Star Trek series but developed in far greater detail here, and imagined an epic struggle for its control and use. One of the book’s most effective devices is a set of “LEAP Laws,” a set of ethical guidelines surrounding teleportation, which are defined partway through but referenced throughout.
LEAP’s pacing is just about perfect, filled as it is with bite-sized chapters that take just minutes to devour. Heaton grants readers a largely omniscient view of the various stakeholders and their intentions, and drops us into high-intensity scenes across the globe including London, Geneva, the Mojave Desert and Reykjavik. Heaton is gifted at injecting emotion into what might be mind-numbing scenes in less capable hands. An example is when Ethan’s Head of Deals is directed to execute what amounts to a fire sale of the company’s holdings so that funds could be diverted into the project that created LEAP, which is still shrouded in secrecy. While Ethan’s closest operational advisors are virtually operating blind, Ethan is working directly with Uma Jacobsdottir, who dreams of using the technology to reverse global warming, and is herself in mortal danger. Throughout, the tension between those who are in on the secret – and therefore in danger – and those who aren’t, is used to great effect.
Heaton graces the novel with an antagonist that readers will love to hate. Samuel Reynolds, whose power was entirely inherited, not earned, seeks to control LEAP for commercial means. Reynolds’ greed and incompetence is perfectly encapsulated in a conversation with his much wiser father in which he claims, “I can charge what I like for it…there are no competitors.”
Readers may wonder why a novel about such futuristic technology and global warming is set way back in 2003. Fortunately, they’ll find some answers in Heaton’s generous explainer of the book’s origins and his research at the end of the book.