Jose Carlos Somoza,
Zig Zag
(HarperCollins, 2007)

In Zig Zag, Spanish writer Jose Carlos Somoza gives us a science-fiction thriller based on string theory, the physics theory, the concept that says a series of time and space dimensions far beyond Einstein's Theory of Relativity exist. In the novel, a group of scientists travel to a remote island to test string theory. In the midst of startling discoveries, things begin to go horribly wrong and the project is disbanded, with the participants going their separate ways and each, for reasons of his or her own, vowing never to speak of it again.

Keeping that vow isn't easy because 10 years later, when the novel begins, someone is murdering members of the scientific team one by one. It appears they may have literally created a monster. The brilliant young physics professor Elisa Robledo, who has been trying to rebuild her life by teaching at a small university far outside the leading research centers, discovers she is a target. She, along with the surviving members of the expedition, must return to the island and figure out what went wrong the previous time. They must undo the evil that they inadvertently set loose upon the world.

Naturally, there are forces that do not want them to succeed. The sponsors of the original research, it turns out, had goals entirely different from the team's and have reasons of their own for preventing Robledo and her fellow scientists from solving the problem.

Zig Zag, for the most part, moves quickly and generates an enormous amount of suspense. It will keep you guessing. It also contains a wealth of material about string theory and contemporary science. Its extrapolations are based on workable science and will have you thinking and questioning not only the uses of science but the basis of everyday reality.

It's a good read, marred only by an ending that hinges on a couple of coincidences that are a little hard to swallow. Still, that's a small price to pay for the pleasures you get on the way to that ending.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 May 2007

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