Terri-Lynne Smiles calls her genre “science fantasy,” and I think this is the perfect description for her series of new adult novels. They’re science fiction, yes, but they aren’t aliens and spaceships and dystopian futures. If science fiction had a sub-genre that was the sci-fi equivalent of urban fantasy, that would be where to place Smiles’ books.
I don’t understand all the physics implied here — and you don’t need to be a science geek to enjoy the books — but basically the premise is that everything that may happen in the future exists as a potentiality on the quantum level. As we make choices, some of those potentialities manifest as reality, while other potentialities disappear.
Some people have the ability to “see” these potentialities as actual, physical phenomena that can be manipulated and altered. In the book, these folks are called “adepts.” They can look at a person (or an animal), see the potential choices he or she might make, and “nudge” that person to make one choice over another.
The rest of the story evolves out of this basic “What if?” idea.
The Two Protagonists and Their Moral Dilemma
The Rothston Series of books, which starts with Foreseen, focuses on two people: Kinzie, a brainy, shy college freshman who (of course) turns out to be an adept, and Greg, a frat guy who just happens to be a physics genius. As you can probably guess, Kinzie and Greg fall for each other as the first book goes on.
Besides the various misadventures Kinzie and Greg get into — running from bad guys, solving mysteries about other adepts, and concluding with a very dramatic scene that includes Grand Central Station — the emotional core of the book centers around the question, “If you could control other people’s choices, would that be a good thing or a bad thing?”
- What if you could have influenced the choices Hitler made and stopped the Second World War?
- What if you could have influenced the mortgage brokers, real estate agents, and investment bankers in a way that would have prevented the Great Recession?
- What if you could influence your family in simple, day-to-day ways, like influencing your teen not to drink or influencing your partner to watch this TV show over that TV show?
Would that be a good thing, or would that be a bad thing?
That’s what Kinzie and Greg have to grapple with. Greg is firmly in the “that’s a bad thing” camp, pointing out all the pitfalls that come with “playing God” over someone else’s choices. But Kinzie’s not so sure. She thinks that an adept’s abilities, used responsibly, can do some real good in the world. And as someone with a good heart, she wants to be a part of that good.
Three Books and We’re Not Done Yet
I enjoyed Foreseen, the first book in the Rothston Series, tremendously — enough that I immediately purchased the second book and finished it in less than two days. The second book, Choices, was even more of a page-turner than the first, with Greg and Kinzie running from danger from cover to cover. The third book, Origins, ends on one of those pesky cliffhangers that just about killed me. I didn’t like Origins as much as the other two books, but still really enjoyed it.
I hope you like these books, too! Let me know what you think of them in the comments section below.