The first third of the book concerns young Cornell, whose mother, we learn, was abducted by aliens when he was four and the family was out in the woods on a picnic. I mean, think about it. How many people do you personally know …. or have even heard about …. whose parent was abducted by aliens and never returned? I thought so …. zero. So right off the bat we know that weirdness will probably be the norm.
We meet Cornell and his father, and their neighbor and bff Pete as they are traveling to a site where a strange slick of glass had appeared overnight. Cornell’s dad is a UFO buff. He is obsessed with them, and some family money has enabled him to make it his life’s work, and the three travel around interviewing people and taking samples of the glass, and so forth, as one does if one is a UFO
nut fixated person. These glass ‘puddles’ have appeared all over the world, much like crop circles, and no one knows where they come from, or what they mean. They are not some special material … they are just glass.
And so life goes for, as I said, the first third of the book, as we learn more about Cornell and his dad and then one night ……. BAM!! the sky becomes inverted. Like a mirror. You look up at the sky and instead of seeing stars, you see a mirror image of say, Antarctica. Well, talk about panic and terror in the streets! For a while. But nothing happened from then on. Nothing. No aliens arriving, no doomsday, no apocalypse. Nothing but life as usual.
And if you thought that was weird, the remainder of the book was even weirder. Cornell becomes estranged from his whack-o father, and eventually is recruited by a secretive company to … you are so going to love this …… go through a ‘portal’ or what they call an ‘intrusion’ which dumps them into other worlds. Turns out there are a bunch of these anomalies all over, each one going to a different world, some very dangerous, some where the explorers never returned, and some similar enough to earth that the explorers can spend some time there trying to find advanced species so they can make first contact.
Cornell goes through an intrusion to a place where he becomes a sort of kind of humanoid insect-y thing which has a huge head housing the brain (the mind), and six bodies. Think of having six hands to do your brain’s bidding. The mind uses these bodies out in the world while it remains somewhere nearby in safety. And, yeah, he does actually meet an alien …. I love it when there is an alien in the book. This one is huge, powerful, and frankly, not all that bright.
I am not going to tell you any more about this plot in case you are a sci fi fan and want to read this. But I will give you a spoiler hint about his mother…… oh, phooey, no I am not. Read the book.
This whole premise of ‘intrusions’ calls to mind the idea of the trash chute in apartment buildings. If these intrusions become well known, at least by governments or powerful groups, what’s to prevent them from tossing all the unwanted human riffraff into the intrusions where nobody returns? Could be a nifty method for population control. Egad. Unintended consequences, and all that. Here we naive readers are approaching it like a fun ride at the amusement park, what with us popping through to look around at the weirdees, but hey, unwanted visitors could be using them to show up on earth and take a peek at us, too, not to mention that using it like an airlock thing.
I love sci fi, even bad sci fi, for the creative and unusual ideas that people have. I really admire imaginations that go beyond aliens that all look like humans, humanoids or bacteria. Really, think about it. Think of all the strange and unusual creatures in our own oceans. What makes us think that every life form is human?