Douglas Thompson's Entanglement was published as e-book by Elsewhen Press in August 2012. The paperback edition will be published in November 2012.
Douglas Thompson's short stories have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, most recently Ambit, Postscripts, and New Writing Scotland. He won the Grolsch/Herald Question of Style Award in 1989 and second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007. His first book, Ultrameta, was published by Eibonvale Press in August 2009, nominated for the Edge Hill Prize, and shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award. His critically acclaimed second novel, Sylvow, was published in autumn 2010, also from Eibonvale. His third novel Apoidea was published by The Exaggerated Press in 2011 and his fourth novel, Mechagnosis, was published by Dog Horn Publishing in June 2012.
Click here to visit Douglas Thompson's official website.
Here's a description of Entanglement:
This intriguing novel, best classed as philosophical science fiction, explores our assumptions about such constants as death, birth, sex and conflict, as the characters in the story explore distant worlds and the intelligent life that lives there.
Entanglement starts in 2180 when travel to neighbouring star systems has been mastered by the use of quantum teleportation, 'entanglement' of sub-atomic matter. In the course of the novel, 24 worlds are explored; what humanity discovers is both surprising and disturbing, enlightening and shocking. Each alternative to mankind that they find, sheds light on human shortcomings and potential and offers fresh perspectives on life on Earth. Meanwhile personal human dramas play out at home for the astronauts and those in charge of the missions.
Entanglement is simultaneously a novel and a series of short stories: 24 worlds, 24 chapters, 24 stories; each one another step on mankind's journey outwards to the stars and inwards to man's own psyche. Yet the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts; the synergy of the episodes results in an overarching story arc that tells us more about ourselves than about the rest of the universe.
A REVIEW OF DOUGLAS THOMPSON'S ENTANGLEMENT
Douglas Thompson's Entanglement has an interesting and unconventional structure. It's a science fiction novel which consists of 24 clever and interlinking short stories. Each story can be read separately, but in order to fully appreciate the story arc, the readers must read the whole novel.
The events of Entanglement take place in the future. Mankind has invented how to travel to far away planets by the use of quantum teleportation. Chambers of quantum-entangled sub-atomic matter are sent to neighbouring star systems and their twins remain on Earth. This technology allows mankind to visit other planets and find out more about their environments and inhabitants.
Entanglement contains the following stories:
- In Time Like Glass
- The Fruitless Ones
- A Trip to the Zoo
- The Jugle of Eyes
- Chan's Leg
- The Cheap Gods
- Ursa Major
- The Translucent Sky
- Two Miles Down
Some of the readers may recognize the first story, Entanglement, because it was published in the anthology Where Are We Going? (Eibonvale Press, edited by Allen Ashley). Some other stories have also been published before, but most of the stories are new and never-before-published stories.
Entanglement is an excellent and fascinating science fiction novel, because Douglas Thompson explores several things from sex to violence and from human feelings to advanced technology. Entanglement is philosophical science fiction, because the author writes about the happenings in a deep and thoughtful way. He shows his readers what may happen when we meet intelligent lifeforms and what kind of an effect they may have on us.
Douglas Thompson explores what it means to be human in a fascinating way, because meeting aliens makes us question our way of life and our cultural norms and values. He writes observingly and thoughtfully about alien lifeforms, human errors, feelings and technological advancement. When we meet new lifeforms, we instantly try to compare them to us and notice how different they are, but we also become fascinated by their strangeness. This kind of thoughtful writing raises many questions, because it's interesting to think about how we may act when we meet intelligent lifeforms.
Douglas Thompson manages to surprise his readers with this book, because it features cultural differences, alien biology, alien sex etc. The author has used lots of imagination when he has created different alien races and their worlds. He describes each planet and each race with vivid details.
I have to admit that I was positively surprised by how imaginatively, but believably the author wrote about the planets and their wonders. The readers have a chance to read about how intelligent lifeforms can be found in strange and unexpected places and how they have adapted to different conditions (life exists even in the most uncommon places). The comments and observations of the explorers are interesting, because they reveal quite a lot about the planets and their lifeforms.
The explorers find out that everything's possible when you travel to distant planets, because life is different in far away places. The author writes about several different alien races, underwater cities, hostile places etc in a fascinating way. The aliens are different from each other and they behave differently toward visitors - some of them are friendly, but others can be hostile. The things the explorers see are often surprising, because they aren't used to seeing certain things. Certain things are disturbing and the explorers find out that visiting planets can be dangerous.
The author writes about sex in a fascinatingly scientific way, because alien sex seems strange to us. For example, the mating ritual of the inhabitants of Meralis is fascinating, because during the act the male swallows the female.
Reading about the communication and translation technology is also fascinating, because the explorers use new technology and software to communicate with intelligent lifeforms. The communication with these lifeforms is at times a bit slow, but mostly successful and the explorers have a chance to talk and exchange thoughts with the aliens.
I was impressed by the richness of the descriptions of technological advancement and problems concerning early technology. The author writes captivatingly about technological things (and what's best, he doesn't overexplain them). He also shows how badly things went wrong during the early dupliportation experiments when one man, Guy Lecoux, became tragically "lost in the system". This was very interesting to me, because tragic accidents are sometimes left unexplained or the authors simply refer to them, but don't mention more about them.
What I liked most about this book was that Douglas Thompson had courage to write about the different aspects of space travelling (technology, exploration, the risks of exploring strange places etc). The author writes as fluently about the feelings of the characters as about the happenings, which is nice and rewarding. He writes accurately, but imaginatively about the characters and their fates. Space exploration has its own risks and the author shows the readers what may happen to explorers. The characters may find themselves in trouble, they may suddenly suffer from mental illness which makes their actions unpredictable or they may become intrigued by the alien way of life.
I enjoyed reading about the different planets and the customs and cultures of their inhabitants. It was interesting to read how aliens felt about humans and how their cultures and habits differed from ours. For example, the inhabitants of one planet lose their memory by regular intervals and the explorers begin to think what it would be like to live in an amnesiac society. This is an interesting idea and it allows the author to question several things which make us human.
Although this novel is full of philosophical and scientific speculation, some of the stories contain plenty of adventure elements. For example, "A Trip to the Zoo" contains easily recognizable space adventure elements. (These adventure elements reminded me a bit of old pulp adventures.)
There's also a bit of quirky humour in this novel. It was fun to read about what Hazel Vesberg did to her husband in one of the stories, because it was an unexpected thing.
Entanglement is one of the most fascinating science fiction novels I've read, because Douglas Thompson manages to bring space exploration to life with his 24 stories. He has found a good balance between the stories, because he writes captivatingly about what happens on Earth and what happens on the distant planets. Each story adds depth to the story arc and reveals more about us and the unirverse that surrounds us.
In my opinion Douglas Thompson is a talented science fiction author. What separates him from other authors is that he's clearly more willing to take risks than several other authors and isn't afraid to explore difficult subjects. In other words, he's willing to write about unconventional things.
I've read a couple of novels by Douglas Thompson and I enjoyed them, but I can say that Entanglement is his best novel so far. Sylvow and Apoidea were well written, exciting and unconventional science fiction novels, but Entanglement surpasses them, because the author seems to able to write about almost anything in it. Entanglement is a great achievement.
Entanglement will be an interesting reading experience for fans of Douglas Thompson, but it can also be recommended to newcomers, who aren't familiar with Douglas Thompson's stories. I think that everybody who likes quality science fiction will enjoy this novel.