The Quantum Connection (2005) is the sequel to Warp Speed. It is set about three years after the Rains, the widespread destruction attributed to meteorites, but actually caused by enemy action.
In this novel, Steve Montana is a computer geek, specializing in software and with considerable knowledge of hardware and firmware. He developed his own operating system as a teenager and won college scholarships for his work. Then the Rains came and Steve lost his friends and family. He becomes clinically depressed.
Larry Waterford is a technical manager at Wright Patterson for the Innovative Concepts Group in the USAF Space Vehicles Directorate.
In this story, Steve is living in Dayton with his dog Lazarus and working at a virtual reality store. He had dropped out of college and is technical support for the VR store customers. One day a man drops off an old game system and Steve is asked to fix it.
The hardware repair is fairly easy and most of the computer disks only need cleaning and surface repair. But one disk is cracked and not playable even after cleaning and surface restoral. Steve forgets his woes for a while as he works on the hardware and software.
When the customer returns, he is impressed by Steve's efforts and the low price of the bill. Later, Larry returns and offers Steve a job with the Air Force if he returns to school. Steve is tired of working under the young VR store manager and the job looks interesting and lucrative, so he fills out the paperwork and enrolls for classes.
While in school, Steve works as a co-op student for the ICG at Wright Patterson. For his first term, Larry gives him a circuit board and asks him to reverse engineer it. Later, he has an exam question in the Advanced Microprocessors class that provides some insight into the circuit.
Steve finally gets his Top Secret clearance and is taken to Washington for a classified briefing. Then security denies him further clearance. Government agents search his apartment for classified data and kill Lazarus while the dog is protecting his home. Steve takes the body back to Bakersfield and buries it there.
This tale involves advanced aliens, superAgents, and warp drives. Steve meets a nice girl and develops a relationship. Then he makes friends with a computer program.
This story is a character study of a depressed technogeek. It involves schematic diagrams, quantum mechanics and pharmaceutical remedies for bipolar disorder. I enjoyed the technogeek part and related to the depression problems.
Steve was not very likeable at the beginning. He bonds with his dog and cries a lot. Then the feds kill his dog. Steve gets mad and develops a different personality.
This novel still resembles a space opera from the 1930s, much like the early works of John W. Campbell, Jr.. Still, it does have more rationale for the rapid technological advances than does the previous book. This is the last volume in the series, but the author went on to co-author some very interesting SF works with John Ringo and a new series on his own. Read and enjoy!
Recommended for Taylor fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of alien relations, interstellar politics, and true romance.
-Arthur W. Jordin