“The Erdmann Nexus,” by Nancy Kress has the trademark detailed descriptions and well-drawn characters, but I have a problem with its One Impossible Thing. The story opens with a slightly confusing passage about a spaceship that’s not the spaceship Dr. Erdmann imagines it to be. Then we actually meet Dr. Henry Erdmann, a physicist retired to assisted living and the many other retirees. As he and several of the others share moments of trance or bursts of energy, the point of view jumps from the gossip to beautiful ex-ballerina (but where’s her dog?) to the mystic. Very confusing, but how could a shared consciousness not be confusing?
At least I think it’s a shared consciousness, and I think the “spaceship” is traveling on a wing and a prayer that consciousness entangled with quantum mechanics can have effects on the macro level. This is One Impossible Thing. I’m cool with that. I rather liked the quantum entangled spaceship in “The Tomb Wife” because it was described so poetically and it provided a setting for an ambiguous story that wasn’t really about space travel. I think with this story, in its contemporary setting, the suspension of my disbelief needs a stronger chain.
Anyway, it takes still more people to put the pieces together, the self-sacrificing young caretaker, the neurological researcher, the detective. Meanwhile, things start to go wrong and stuff starts to blow up in an entertaining manner. But when Erdmann puts together what’s happening, even though he is The Physicist, his big speech is given to a bunch of lay people so the explication gets totally glossed over. So I’m still not sure that the “spaceship” is what I think it is. Arg.