The Halcyon Dislocation For an author’s first novel, it’s a good one! A scientist, he makes dimension and time travel seem plausible and comprehensible.
The American novelist John Gardner once said there are only two kinds of stories: either the hero goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. In his first novel, Toronto author Peter Kazmaier invents a third plot: a town goes on a journey.
The town is (actually an island-based university). It is sent into another dimension, thanks to an experiment gone awry. As students and faculty attempt to survive in a wild, seemingly untouched new world, politics and dissent begin to pull the colony apart. From the outside, strange threats emerge, and nothing is quite as idyllic as it seems.
University student Dave Schuster does his best to adapt and help his fellow students survive. His friend Al steers him, slowly, to a new faith that helps him conquer his fears about his new surroundings and reconciles him to own tragic past.
For his first novel, Kazmaier does well at quickly getting the plot in motion and describing the new world. The science makes for good reading, too; perhaps no surprise, since Kazmaier is a working and teaching scientist. He makes dimension and time travel seem plausible and comprehensible. (No mean feat; the writers of the TV show Lost could have used his help.)
The main character is well drawn, but the novel falls short with the supporting characters, which are roughly sketched in or merely act as vehicles for ideas or philosophical positions. For example, one professor launches into an unmotivated and random anti-family tirade and then isn’t heard from again. And what motivates the novel’s antagonist, Dr. Hoffstetter, is never compellingly or believably revealed.
A good writer once gave me a tip: “Just remember that every bad guy had a mom. If you start there, they write themselves. That kind of attention to character development would make Kazmaier’s next novel much stronger.
Originally published in Faith Today, May/June 2010. The Halcyon Dislocation is available from Wolfsburg Imprints.
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