A Flash In Time

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A high-concept, action-packed, and truly explosive science fiction novel set in a recognizable if somewhat advanced version of the near present-day United States, J.N. Frye’s A Flash In Time blends the concepts of time slips and alternative realities with the conventions of the thriller genre to provide a perplexing puzzle that hinges on the danger posed by both unchecked power, government conspiracies, and possible alien invaders.

A long-running, highly secret, and deeply controversial government project being conducted at E-R-Mag Labs, buried far within and under Sandia Mountain in the New Mexico desert, is due to reach fruition after 13 tortuous years on May 30, 2006. The ENet project and the many associated failures have dominated the involved scientists’ lives for over a decade and the program manager is determined that it will finally be finished, although Doctor Joan Rand is very concerned about the wisdom of going ahead with the latest and supposedly final test.

It rapidly turns out that she was right to be worried, as switching on the ENet antenna causes a massive explosive that triggers a blinding white flash of light over the nearby town and somehow leads to the disappearance of the “Silver Tree,” an out-of-place oak tree decorated with metal streamers, which takes two local teenagers with it. As events quickly spiral out of control, there are more disappearances of people and landmarks, and then dismembered corpses start showing up.

As the devastation spreads in the wider world, Corporal Ivanov “Ivey” Longfeather of the Sandia Mountain Reservation Sheriff’s Department and Detectives Jaylee Washington and Bart Williams from the local police force form a joint task force to investigate events and discover the cause of the mysterious disappearances. While their investigation is initially thwarted by the secrecy at E-R-Mag Labs, things soon become so bad that the scientists and government authorities have no choice but to cooperate.

But what of the disappeared themselves? Where are they being taken and why are certain body parts being left behind/returned? Could there really be alien involvement? Many complex questions need answering, but first, the detectives and scientists need to find a way to shut ENet down and so prevent it from having any more deadly consequences. Unfortunately, the antenna seems to have evolved to develop its own purpose, and it’s not going to give up on that purpose easily.

The action and danger come thick and fast in A Flash In Time, as the bloody devastation unleashed by each surge of the ENet antenna causes the story’s body count to rise rapidly. J.N. Frye has crafted a singular concept for a thrill-packed science fiction novel and provided the advanced yet plausible technology necessary to make it possible. The world-building is really very good in this regard, with a lot of thought having gone into balancing the recognizable and futuristic elements of the story in such as way as to make it all scarily believable.

But while the formulation of the story is impressive, the execution lets it down somewhat. It can be difficult to follow what is happening sometimes, particularly during shifts from scene to scene and when immersed in characters’ internal monologues. Better indication of such changes would have added clarity to the story. Moreover, the characters themselves do not always come across as naturally as they should, especially during episodes of banter-like dialogue. Still, A Flash In Time is an exciting and fast-paced story that ventures into intriguing alien territory.

Reviewed By:

Author John N Frye
Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 366 pages
Publisher ReadersMagnet LLC
Publish Date 15-Dec-2023
ISBN 9798890913517
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Issue February 2024
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy