“Rift” by Richard Cox
Reviewed by Tracy Satterlee
"Rift" is an excellent title for this fast-paced science fiction novel.
Cameron Fisher has numerous rifts in his life: the one between him and his wife after their son’s death, his past and future with his employer NeuroStor, and most importantly the rift between his life before teleporting across the country and his life after. Yep, his employer gives him a chance at wealth, a bright future, and a shot at getting into the history books if he will volunteer to test a new teleportation device.
It will scan him, tear him apart, and put him back together on the far side.
I, much like “Bones” McCoy, would be damned before I’d let some infernal contraption do that to me, but Cameron is desperate and five million dollars and a new purpose are just what the doctor ordered.
He arrives safely and takes some time to reunite with an old friend. They head to a strip club first where an encounter with a friendly dancer who knows entirely too much makes him open his eyes a crack. Convinced he’s being followed, but uncertain by whom, Cameron and his buddy go to a golf course where things start to spin apart. Gunshots, some sort of transporter sickness, and a life or death struggle in a raging river are only the beginning of a journey that seems certain to end in pain.
There is certainly quite a bit of action and I came to like Cameron and care about him, though never very deeply. The plot twists come fast and furious, building up a plot point that almost makes you wince only to knock it down with something a little more plausible. Most of the characters are shallow, though I’ve known real people that weren’t as believable. If Cox left you too much time to contemplate these things it would hurt “Rift,” but he doesn’t.
My biggest beef is with the science part of this fiction. Cox builds up a rationale for the teleportation that’s pulled right from actual research in quantum mechanics. I applaud that level of realism in any fiction. He then has an irascible computer-geek-cum-Lone- Gunman tear that down and fail to put anything in its place. I would have at least appreciated time travelers or space aliens giving the tech to an evil corporation, although something original would be a nice change of pace. Placing it a couple of decades in the future might not have been a bad move.
The ending seems to be a bit of a cheat, too, though I won’t give that away here. I will say that it robs a beautiful sacrifice of some power and ties everything up a little too neatly. I can recommend this book only with the caveat that you’ll want to read it to take your mind off of something rather than put it into anything meaningful.
Two and a half stars