Nucleation by Kimberly Unger

My Rating: 8/10
Amazon:  Nucleation
Author: Kimberly Unger
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Page #: 288
Published: November 13, 2020

Kimberly Unger's Nucleation is a tale that follows Helen Vectorovich’s perspective (told from the third person perspective) of the Line Drive project, with building an interstellar gate as it’s goal. Helen is the top operator for the parent company of the Line Drive project and her job is to remotely operate the main construction vessel nicknamed the Golf Ball from several lightyears away. On the Golf Ball’s maiden voyage, the team experiences “feedback” which kills one of the Line Drive team members. The rest of the story follows Helen’s attempt in uncovering what caused the feedback and how it could harm team members several lightyears away while also trying to shed the blame for the mission failure.

Despite some flaws, I really enjoyed this book. It kind of had a cyberpunk feel without the major cyberpunk themes. For example, the operators remotely control equipment from a “coffin” over a “quantum entanglement” feed and I guess you could consider Helen “hard-boiled”, yet there is no mentioned social order or corporate elite or other themes that you would typically associate with cyberpunk. I really enjoyed some of the unique ideas explored throughout this novel, such as literal golf ball sized spaceships and all space exploration is done remotely. The plot was interesting as well, with Helen trying to accomplish three major tasks: Find out how her teammate could be killed by noise over the quantum entanglement feed several lightyears away. Find out the source of the noise on the entanglement feed. Clear her name of the stigma that comes with piloting a failed mission.
As much as I liked this book, there are some major flaws that I can't let go unaddressed. The whole premise of the novel relies on the “quantum entanglement” principle, which is how operators interact with their equipment and how the noise was introduced that killed Hellen’s teammate. Quantum entanglement was not explored or explained nearly enough. There were several times that I couldn’t understand what was happening because I didn’t understand the general boundaries of what quantum entanglement can and cannot do.  I also thought that the ending was left a little too unfinished. I understand wanting to leave it open for the next installment of the series, but it would be nice for a little more closure on some of the plots.
Aside from the points listed above, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any fan of cyberpunk mixed with a little space opera.

Note: I did receive a free copy of this book to review. This did not affect my review.