Strange Attractors is, like Primer, the sort of story that stresses the science section in its genre classification of Science-Fiction: mashing and merging as it does concepts like chaos theory, The Butterfly Effect and fractal mapping into a plot that never once resembles a text-book, despite its deeply educational exposition. The book takes its title from a mathematics term whose definition is near meaningless to me, with my mere High School education in the field (An Attractor is a set towards which a variable, moving according to the dictates of a dynamic system, evolves over time and earns the ‘Strange’ suffix for featuring a non-integer dimension or chaotic dynamics…yeah) and based on the occurrence of those words – which I understand solo, just not in syntax – within it I daresay that its plot was derived from the very same.
So I shouldn’t have got it, the book should not have spoken to me since the science was so over my head; yet it did, deeply so, and the reason for that is instantly obvious once you open the lushly contoured cover – Archaia once again doing an amazing job of producing their books – and actually begin to read. Charles Soule, in his introduction, doesn’t once mention science – specifically or even vaguely- instead he spends those several hundred words wistfully explaining what it is about New York that made him want to write Strange Attractors. His speech suggesting that it was the city, and not those heady concepts, that came first, the city that stands at the core of the book and even though I am an Australian this was a concept that I could not only understand but connect with.