Isaac Newton’s 21st Century Entanglement by Noel Hodson (book review)

  The top line on the cover of the book says ‘A Time Travelling Caper’ and its not something I’d argue with. The author Noel Hodson takes the oddness of quantum entanglement and twists it quite a bit to deliver a rather enjoyable, light-hearted caper.

  Be assured though that you don’t need to be especially knowledgeable about quantum mechanics to read this book as the bits of QM that do get dragged in to play a role in the events are carefully explained. Although I’m sure the explanations are only loosely based on current theory.

  There are two main characters in this story: Archie Wilkins (aged 10 and a bit) dwelling with his Mum at 17 Blueberry Avenue, Clothfield and Professor Isaac Newton who dwells about 352 years prior to Archie. There are other characters which I’ll come to later but, as an ensemble, they reminded my of the classic British comedies of the last century.

  Archie somehow misses the bus taking his class for their school trip to Skegness and retires to his favourite haunt near the local stream. His mournful review is disturbed when a large oddly dressed man emerges from a bramble bush. Due to the gentleman’s attire and very odd way of talking, Archie decides he’s not the full shilling (it’s a term from last century that Isaac would understand) but harmless enough.

  Unbeknown to the duo, Isaac’s arrival in Archie’s time frame has got the attention of the scientists at Trinity Collage in Cambridge. Something odd was going wrong with their atom-smashing experiment. Instruments were recording a build-up of electrons that really should not be there. But they were and more were arriving from somewhere. Readings were literally going off the dial.

  Chapter 4: ‘Physicists In The Field’ is so reminiscent of those classic British comedies of the last century I mentioned earlier. Absolutely brilliant. The senior scientists deploy a dispensable junior researcher to help them track down the source of these spurious and unwelcome electrons. There’s a mad chase around the English countryside before homing in on the location of Isaac and Archie.

  What follows is a mad caper in the current century as the scientists enlist the help of the Atomic Energy Commission to track down the source of the escalating flow of electrons. Urgency is the word of the day as the scientists are predicting something like a nuclear explosion very imminently unless they can stop it.

  The efforts of the soldiers, scientists, police, reporters and Archie’s Mum (I might have missed someone) have the unfortunate effect of propelling Isaac and Archie back to 1666. Now 1666 was not a great place to be in England with the bubonic plague in full swing and the great fire of London just waiting to get started.

  Archie with his odd lilt and strange clothes sticks out like a swollen thumb. The local Squire certainly thinks there’s something demonic about him. This, of course, sets the scene for a mad cape around the English countryside in 1666 as Isaac tries to keep Archie out of the hands of the Squire while trying to make their way back to Trinity Collage.

  Back in 2018, the two senior scientists, Professor Hooke and Doctor Beamish, assisted by their staff and Commodore MacDonald, spurred on by Archie’s Mum, are desperately trying to come up with a way to get Archie back to his proper time frame. The theory’s devised to explain events are all strangely plausible so long as you don’t think about them to hard.

  If there was one thing that struck me about this book was how good the author is at addressing things from the viewpoint of 10 year-old Archie and then switching to the view point of possibly one of the cleverest people to have lived. Not forgetting all the people in between, of course.

  This is an light hearted, enjoyable read that won’t tax your braincells. Just the thing for Christmas!

Andy Whitaker

December 2021

(pub: Lightning Books Ltd, 2020. 254 page paperback. Price: £8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78563-182-5)

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I live in deepest darkest Essex where I enjoy photography, real ales, walking my dog, cooking and a really good book. I own an e-book reader which goes with me everywhere but still enjoy the traditional paper based varieties. My oriental studies have earned me a black belt in Suduko and I'm considered a master in deadly Bonsai (there are very few survivors).

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