Portals in a Northern Sky
by Charles Douglas Hayes
Category: Fiction / General
378 pages; ISBN: 0962197955
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This multi-faceted novel takes place in and around the state of Alaska. Part of it is a multi-generation saga of one family over the last 150 years. It starts with a young woman named Sara Spencer Peek, part of a westward-bound wagon train in the mid 19th century. Back in the present, Bob Thornton is a Wall Street superstar, who, one day, walks away from everything, and heads for Alaska. He's not totally sure where he's going or what he'll do once he gets there, but there has to be more to life than Wall Street. While hitchhiking, he is picked up by Ruben Sanchez, self-educated philosopher. They do a lot of talking about philosophy, most of it centered on the book Moby Dick.
Adam Whitehead is a world-renowned physicist doing his best to drop off the face of the earth. Both his parents died of complications from Alzheimer's Disease, and, being of the age where such a thing is a major concern, he is terrified that he will be next. Should it happen, he will end his own life before he ends up in some nursing home. James Tall Tree, the Presidential Science Adviser, calls out the Alaska State Police in almost-desperate search for Whitehead. His theories have led to a major discovery that is about to be released to the public. Tall Tree wants to officially acknowledge Whitehead's contribution.
It has become possible to go back in time and watch events as they happen in real time. Going to any coordinates, as long as it was outside and there was no cloud cover, it is possible to go back as far as the cavemen and watch it 'live'. Access to this system will be freely available to anyone with an internet connection. The repercussions for all of human society, especially fields like history and archaeology, will, of course, be cataclysmic.
I really enjoyed this book, but it's not for everyone. The reader had better like home-grown, self-educated philosophy, because there is a lot of it in this book. Otherwise, it works as a science fiction novel, as a Jack London-type adventure novel, and it will give the reader plenty to think about. It's very much worth reading.