~review by Sara H.
The Klaatu Diskos Series by Pete Hautman
Tucker Fey’s parents have suddenly gone missing after a strange phenomenon is witnessed above their house – a perfectly circular shaped distortion of light. After weeks of his parent’s increasingly strange behavior, and subsequent disappearance, Tucker finds a way to follow them through the distortion of light he knows to be responsible for it.
And so begins Tucker’s adventure. Each disk shaped phenomenon, called a “diskos”, is a portal to another time. Sometimes it leads to the far future, sometimes the further future, and sometimes far back into the past.
For readers acquainted with time-travel stories, this series contains a number of familiar time-travel tropes: temporal paradoxes, timeline crossings, alternate histories and merged memories, self-fulfilling prophecies, and more. Impressively, Hautman deals with all of this in a way that feels organic and fresh. Not too much time is spent discussing the consequences of time travel, only enough for the character to understand what is happening, and then it’s back to the story. And this is where the books really shine. The author never underestimates his readers. He elegantly works everything into the narrative, allowing the reader to fully immerse herself into the protagonist’s situations.
Our protagonists are both Tucker Feye and a mysterious girl called Lah Lia, with each having a book told from their perspective. The Obsidian Blade begins the trilogy as told by Tucker Feye, followed immediately by The Cydonian Pyramid, which covers much of the same time frame but as told by Lah Lia, who travels from a far future millennia to Tucker Feye’s present. The beauty of this method is that many of the questions that arise in the first book are answered in the second as we get to know Lah Lia. By the time we get to The Klaatu Terminus we have a solid understanding of who Tucker and Lah Lia are, what they want, and what they are beginning to mean to each other.
The gears shift completely in The Klaatu Terminus. This book delves much deeper into character relationships and motivations. We start to learn why all this is happening in the first place. Who are the Klaatu? How are the time-travel paradoxes resolving themselves? And finally, who is Iyl Ryn, the “discorporeal” being that created the diskos in the first place? Through all this Hautman also shows the cyclical nature of society – moving from pre-technology, to the embracing of technology, the backlash of too much dependence on technology, and then back again. He balances extreme logic, as exemplified in the humans of the technologically advanced near future, with the religious fanaticism that results in the even further future where a religious cult has banned all digital technology and resorts to virgin sacrifice as a form of social control.
I was completely caught off-guard by this series. Not just with the level of imagination and seamless way with which Hautman weaves his themes together, but with the quality of the prose itself. He never talks down to the reader or over-simplifies the characters, and gives only minimal attention to the romance between Tucker and Lah Lia, which I highly appreciated as both characters had much more important things to deal with throughout their adventure. Hautman honored both character’s higher motivations, which ultimately made them feel more multidimensional and interesting. This is a series worth picking up.