Douglas Phillips Opens the Time Travel Possibility
Our scientific knowledge is always subject to changes and corrections pending any new discoveries we make, but so far as we know, time only flows one way: forward. The idea of time travel has been cemented in our imagination over a century ago, despite us never getting closer to it. While we might not be able to, it is a very real possibility in Douglas Phillips’ Quantum Time.
The third book in the Quantum Series, it begins its story with a rather dramatic scene: a dying man stumbles into a police station, claiming to be a traveller from the future. He’s carrying a coin with some strange markings on it, and once deciphered, they lead the authorities to actually start believing the man, despite his impossible claim.
When a number of predictions made by the man start coming to life, the FBI takes a very close and serious look at his most important warning: there is an impending nuclear holocaust threatening to ravage the Earth. The danger of the future might be as real as the present moment, but conventional methods can’t exactly be applied here.
Enter Daniel Rice, a key player in Earth’s first contact with an alien civilization. Now living a life without true freedom nor security for his role in the event, he sees the FBI pay him a visit in search for his help.
Without too much resistance, Rice gets dragged into an all-important mission to save the Earth, and all he has at his disposal are a few predictions of the future, as well as a piece of alien technology which may allow him to look thirty years into the future. Reaching beyond the concept of space, the exploration of time as the next frontier of knowledge is imminent.
A Believable Basis for the Impossible in Quantum Time
Time travel stories tend to be a rather precarious subject to write about, because more often than not, they entail various paradoxes and feedback loops which defy our current notions of logic. More often than not, authors are content to simply ask their readers to suspend their sense of disbelief, which we’re generally happy to do if the story warrants it.
I have to commend Douglas Phillips for doing his best not to take this route, instead opting for the much more difficult and demanding path of giving everything a plausible basis in modern science, as much as such a thing is possible. I can only imagine the research he must have done in the realm of quantum physics to achieve what he did.
With this said, rest assured he never breaks the rhythm of the story to give us lectures, nor does he try to assault us with complex equations or specialist terms we can hardly understand, let alone picture. He does an absolutely amazing job at laying out all the scientific concepts and data in layman’s terms. In my opinion, even someone with a mere passing interest in these topics would be able to grasp them.
As such, more than just a science-fiction story (which I’ll discuss below shortly), this book can also be interpreted as a sort of thought experiment on what it would take to make time travel possible in our universe, using the laws of physics we are familiar with.
In the process of doing so, we get to take a first-hand glance at many of the paradoxes which could be introduced with time travel. While Phillips certainly doesn’t have all the solutions (otherwise he would have likely invented time travel), he does illustrate some excellent points and truly forward-thinking ideas. Personally-speaking, I found this to be the major appeal of the book.
The Wild Ride to Humanity’s End
I realize I may have given you the impression you’ve stumbled on a textbook about time travel, but allow me to assure you, there is very much a grand science-fiction adventure to be had in here. As a matter of fact, I’d say this book was surprisingly fast-paced for the complexity of the concepts which were discussed within.
I believe one of the main elements which creates an exciting factor is the fact we are always aware of the stakes, and they’re about as big as they can be for something as tiny as humanity: total extinction. The impending nuclear holocaust is something we’re consistently reminded of, with the clock ticking down seemingly faster and faster.
Additionally, the scientific elements are often used to spice the adventure up and create obstacles, challenges and dangers for our characters to deal with. Besides, how could any adventure on the frontier of spacetime and human knowledge by anything less than exciting?
If there was one gripe I had with this book, it was Phillips’ tendency to tie it a little too close with modern-day events and politics. While he certainly can have his opinions and express them in his works as he sees fit, they felt somewhat out of place for a novel which, when all is said and done, is a time travel adventure. Simply-put, science and politics have never gone well together.
If you can overlook this element though, I think you’ll have a wonderful time with this novel, especially if you’ve enjoyed the previous adventures whose characters are making a return. While you don’t have to read the previous entries in the series to enjoy this one, I would also recommend them for their sheer quality and similar focus on science in the realm of quantum physics.
The Final Verdict
Quantum Time by Douglas Phillips is an excellent third entry into the Quantum Series, doing its best to scientifically explore time travel and the paradoxes it carries. Despite a bit of politicization, the plot remains solid and exciting, led by likeable characters into uncharted territories of human knowledge.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous books in the series, or are looking for hard science-fiction adventure centred on time travel, then I strongly recommend you give this book a read.
Douglas Phillips is an American author with two science degrees, as well as experience in designing predictive computer models.
As a writer, he is best-known for writing the Quantum series, a series of hard science-fiction novels revolving around the realm of particle physics, and more recently the standalone novel Phenomena.