Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quantum Fashionistas by Libby Cone

Full Disclosure: Yes, Libby Cone is a fellow reviewer here at the New Podler Review of Books. She'd told me about the story over the summer and I was intrigued. She sent me the finished story a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed it so much that I offered to review it.

You can shout "shenanigans" if you want, but I believe future reviewers will bear me out.

Quantum FashionistasIn "Quantum Fashionistas", we're introduced to Sharon, a middle-aged actuary for an insurance company. The twist here is that the company works across multiple universes. Yes, breakthroughs in quantum physics have enabled travel from one universe to another, provided one can afford the cost. Sharon is one of a select few people who can handle multiverse travel without losing her wits. Still, she's replaceable and constantly frets about her pension.

While on assignment in sigma-Germany, she gets a call from her boss explaining that they have a special assignment for her. Unfortunately it involves time travel, an even riskier form of transport in which she could find herself transmuted into a different form entirely. In fact, her roommate is a refugee from another time and quantum reality and is stuck in alpha-Manhattan with her.

Sharon soon finds herself caught up in a struggle between opposing forces and prays that she can complete her assignment before playing Russian Roulette with quantum realities leaves catastrophically altered.

This is a clever story. Libby has mixed quantum physics with the insurance industry and spiced it up with high fashion. While she might play fast and loose with the scientific details, the basics are dead on. The reader is encouraged to not sweat the small stuff and just enjoy the ride.

My complaint, if you can it that, is the length. At just under 8,000 words it's too long for a short story and too short for a novella. The pace feels rushed. Neither Sharon nor the reader can catch their breath as we're whisked from one destination to another. Libby has crammed so much into this story that it begs to be taken to longer form where the reader can digest what's going on. This would make for a great series of novels.

In summary, Libby has taken a fresh approach to multiverse fiction. By knocking the concept of multiple universes down to the mundanities of everyday business, it spares the reader the dizzying implications that quantum physics throws at us. "Quantum Fashionistas" is a highly enjoyable read and worth checking out.

"Quantum Fashionistas" is available for the Kindle.

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