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Eidolon by Libby McGugan

Anthony G Williams

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Apr 18, 2007
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My attention was caught by a review in Interzone 250 of Eidolon, the first novel by Libby McGugan, together with an interview with the author. The story sounded promising, so I ordered a copy. The plot is set in the present day and concerns Robert Strong, a young theoretical physicist who is contacted by the Observation Research Board, a shadowy but powerful organisation. ORB presents convincing research evidence that the experiments with the CERN Large Hadron Collider may result in the creation of "strangelets", sub-atomic particles which, by interacting with ordinary matter, could destroy our present reality. However, CERN had dismissed the risk, so ORB wants Strong to sabotage their research before it is too late.

So far the plot seems like a techno-thriller with a rather more fundamental plot than most, and (as far as I am competent to judge) the author has done her research into theoretical physics while displaying her knowledge with a light touch that doesn't distract from the story. What struck me first about the novel is how beautifully and intelligently written it is, how full of perceptive observations. It's difficult to write a lot more without spoilers, so all I will say is that the plot develops in very unexpected and increasingly strange directions that compel Strong to question his understanding of the nature of reality.

Eidolon is that rare thing, a novel with a unique and intriguing plot that has no respect for traditional genre boundaries. The only other book I have read in recent years of which I could say the same is China Miéville's The City and the City. While Eidolon is complete in itself, the world the author has created clearly has far more scope for exploration, so I was delighted to read in the interview that she is working on the sequel. That one will go straight to the top of my reading pile!

(An extract from my SFF blog: Science Fiction & Fantasy)
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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I'm reading this now and quite enjoying it, even though it's completely outside my normal genre reading.

There's a great attention to detail here - about people, and places. She's already convinced me that she may have been to the Himalayas. And her observations about people are astute - currently up to the break-up part, and there's so much truth in the feeling here, and very well described.
 

Brian G Turner

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The conflict between science and spirituality drives the story, and I really though McGugan was going to offer some insight on how these could be viewed together harmoniously.

Instead, it wrapped up in a supernatural way that didn't seem to respect either position, which left me ultimately feeling disappointed.

If she writes another book, I hope she'll be a little more brave and forward with her ideas. :)
 
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