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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Fold by Peter Clines (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website 
Order the book HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic Interview with Peter Clines 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Ex-Heroes 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ex-Patriots 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Ex-Communication 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ex-Purgatory
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Junkie Quatrain 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of 14 
Read I See Dead People by Peter Clines (Guest Post) 

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Peter Clines was born and brought up in Maine, he moved to California when he grew up and worked in Hollywood for a number of years. He has also been a prop master for several movies and TV shows. He has published several pieces of short fiction and countless articles on the film and television industry, as well as the recent novel 14, named best sci-fi novel of 2012 by and voted one of the best horror novels of 2012 on Goodreads and Bloody Disgusting.

He has previously written reviews for the Cinema Blend website and for the Creative Screenwriting magazine as well interviewed many famous film personas such as Frank Darabont, Paul Haggis, Kevin Smith, George Romero, Akiva Goldsman, David Goyer, Mark Herman, Nora Ephron among many others. He currently lives in Southern California. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The folks in Mike Erikson’s small New England town would say he’s just your average, everyday guy. And that’s exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he’s chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence.

That is, until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve: far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to “fold” dimensions, it shrinks distances so that a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step.

The invention promises to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the Door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems—and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret. As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may only be a matter of time before the project destroys…everything.

A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you’ll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuinely page-turning science-fiction thriller. Step inside its pages and learn why author Peter Clines has already won legions of loyal fans.

FORMAT/INFO: The Fold is 384 pages long divided over a seven titled sections and fifty-nine chapters. Narration is in the third-person via Leland “Mike” Erikson. The Fold has a self-contained plot and also set in the same universe as that of 14. Readers can read this book without having read 14.

The Fold was published in Hardback and e-book format on June 2, 2015 via Broadway Paperbacks (Crown Publishing) in the US.

CLASSIFICATION: Featuring a mix between Michael Crichton’s The Sphere and Sliders the TV series along with some shades of Sherlock Holmes. The Fold is a terrific SF mystery with good doses of humor mixed in that will appeal to all fans of Peter Clines.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I’m an unabashed fan of Peter Clines, ever since I got hold of his Ex-Heroes series back when it was published by the “zombie specialists” Permuted Press. Since then the series has been picked up by a traditional publisher as well as published a couple of other standalone titles. Another book of his that was very well acclaimed was 14 and The Fold is set in the same world and is sort of a side-quel to 14.

The Fold begins on an interesting premise, Leland “Mike” Erikson is a high school teacher in a quintessential Maine town and is very content with his job. His best friend Reggie who is a vital cog with DARPA however believes he’s been wasting his time and wants his help with a project called “The Albuquerque door”. Not telling Mike what it is exactly, he gives Mike enough hints to intrigue him and asks him to come down to Washington for an official briefing of sorts. Before we know it, Mike meets with Reggie and other DARPA folks and is convinced to head down to the Mojave Desert to check up on the Albuquerque door project.

Once he arrives there, he’s looked upon with high suspicion by all the scientists working on the project as they believe him to be a spy. Mike has to slowly find out what the project is all about and whether it has been derailed by anyone. This is the basic gist of this sci-fi mystery thriller that is a cross between Michael Crichton’s The Sphere and Sliders. The basic plot of the story is finding out what truly is happening in the California desert and the way the author goes about revealing the story is very intriguing.

The main protagonist Mike is the sole narrative voice of the story and he’s an interesting protagonist. Born with an didactic memory and an IQ that borders on sheer genius, Mike was destined for higher things. He however in his teenage years had an epiphany and resolved to live as normal a life as possible. With him as a protagonist, we are constantly treated to facts, factoids and tiny little throwaways that keep the reader hooked. Another aspect of his didactic memory and the way the author explores it is by the use of ants. In his mind, memories constantly threaten to be replayed over and over again. They take the form of either red or black ants and Mike has them strictly under control.

The main plot while being heavily immersed in the sci-fi genre is actually a mystery. What is truly happening? Are any of the participants falsifying information related to the research and what truly happened to cause the mental breakdown of one of the research scientists? Peter Clines writes this story with a light humorous note, mixing in nods to pop culture as well as popular TV shows such as Game of Thrones. His style of writing is such that the readers will never be bored of reading his stories even when the characterization might not be top-notch. What I mean by that is while the protagonist is one of the most intriguing ones, I’ve encountered in recent times. The side character cast often takes a back seat and are easily two-dimensional.

This though doesn’t detract much from the story and there’s a particularly good explanation provided as to why that might be the case. For those readers interested to see what the connection is to 14. They will have to read all the way till the end where they might recognize a couple of cameo appearances. There’s also the green cockroaches to further cement the universe in which it is set in and the true focus is always about the mystery.

What I thoroughly enjoyed about the story was the fast pace and the plot twists that come in rapidly. The author is one of those quintessential storytellers and he proves that in spades with this mix of SF and mystery threads that make this book such a compelling read. Sure it will have its detractors and those looking for a well-rounded character cast, might be disappointed. But for Peter Clines fans, they will certainly enjoy this wonderful sidequel. Be sure to have read 14 to make more sense of this story as the climax and epilogue will make so much more sense then.

CONCLUSION: The Fold is a remarkable experiment and in the hands of such a talented writer such as Peter Clines, it becomes a veritable joy to read. Give this book a try if you want to enjoy a good mystery set within the confines of the SF genre. 


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