Romance mingles with some hefty sci-fi ideas in ‘Echo 8’

echo 8 sharon lynn fisher
(Tor Books)

Echo 8 is the latest offering from the self-proclaimed author of science-fiction “romance for geeks,” Sharon Lynn Fisher. A denizen of the meteorologically gloomy Pacific Northwest, Fisher makes no apologies for her sentimental streak, claiming it helps her mitigate the mood-depressing effects of the local weather. Sentimentality or no, Fisher’s novels build upon cores of some pretty hefty science themes. Her last book The Ophelia Prophecy (see our review),  revolved around the science of genetic engineering. For Echo 8 the premise of the story is the existence of a parallel world to ours that contains “echoes” of the people and places of Earth. These echoes are connected between the universes via quantum entanglement, but can be destructive to one another if they come into direct contact. While modern theoretical physics has postulated the existence of such multiple universes, there is not normally an accessible path between them. In Echo 8, however, a terrestrial catastrophe in the parallel world has opened up a pathway between it and the Earth. Drawing parallels between so-named “psychic” phenomena and these states of quantum entanglement, Fisher’s heroine Tess has an innate ability to detect and interpret these experiences and has devoted her life’s work to examining them. The opening of the gateway between the universes has opened up new avenues of research for her and Seattle Psi, the organization where she works and the central lab for study of the echoes. Human echoes have been dislocating from the parallel world to Earth, with usually fatal consequences to those they encounter from our world and eventually, themselves. The exception is Tess and her interactions with Echo number 8, Jake. Her compassionate nature leads her to seek ways to both protect Earth humans and to save the displaced Echo’s lives, starting with Jake. The romance ushers into the scene in the form of a handsome FBI agent, Ross. The FBI has sent Ross to Seattle Psi to monitor the threat the echoes pose to national security and to determine possible military uses of the alternate universe. His orders to learn from Tess’s research set the stage for their burgeoning relationship. But the path of their interactions is anything but well-defined when, like a mismatched trio of subatomic particles, Jake, Tess, and Ross, collide with one another, attract, and repel. And which duo will end up in a stable orbit is anyone’s guess. With Echo 8, Fisher is truly beginning to hit her storytelling stride. The action is much tighter than in her previous novel, The Ophelia Prophecy, and the romance aspect is better integrated into the storyline. The overall concept of tossing a dash of spice into science fiction is a fun one and we look forward to the future developments of Fisher’s prowess in the genre.

About Andrea Sefler

Andrea Sefler
Andrea is a consultant and technical writer for various scientific software and instrumentation companies. She has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Berkeley and has never met a genre of music or books that she hasn’t liked. As a gamer since the days of the Apple II, Andrea can relate any number of hair-raising tales about role-playing games stored on 360 kB 5.25” floppy disks and may, someday, put them to paper.

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