FIRST-TIME Sydney author Peter Fitzgerald's labour of love is a rollicking, highly imaginative blend of science, fiction, adventure and typical Aussie larrikinism.
And, creditably, in what may or may not be a first for its target audience, neither a vampire nor an inappropriate body function are in sight here.
Fitzgerald is a businessman who has worked as an adviser for the revered Lowy family of Westfield fame. But it is his passion for science, which he believes ``will solve the problems of the world (not finance)'', that shines through in Qbits.
So, the plot: two young scientists _ Tom Jackson and Scott ``Mad Dog'' Maddocks _ are Sydney Uni lecturers. The former is struck by lightning, which propels him into the world of Qbits quantum reality, inhabited by the incarnations of four of our greatest ever minds _ Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Galileo Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton.
Tom and Mad Dog have, until now, lived uncomplicated lives involving teaching, rugby, beer, the famous Harry's Cafe de Wheels, and coffee (lots of coffee ... one suspects it might also play a not insignificant role in the author's life).
But then the Qbits Famous Four join the plot, with a plan to save the planet, utilising our two protagonsists as the most unlikely of heroes.
Tom and Mad Dog convince US President Bob Neil that they're on to something, and they're soon whisked off, first-class, to Svalbard, between Norway and the North Pole, home of the Global Seed Vault, which is about to be bombarded by the Perseids meteor shower, as well as other unsavoury characters.
Freezing water, diamonds and terrorists follow as Tom and Mad Dog try to save the day ... with the help of the Qbits, of course.
It's all imagination-stretching stuff that will appeal not only to its teen target audience, but also adults who haven't let cynicism blind memories of their inner child.
Admirably, Fitzgerald uses countless fact-explaining asides by what must be Schrodinger's cat to achieve what Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy did in the late 1970s _ that this on-the-surface implausible yarn is actually mildly plausible ... and hence even more enjoyable.
Mike Sparrow | Sunday Herald Sun
The Herald & Weekly Times Pty Limited
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