Quantum Leap: The Novel (1992) – Ashley McConnell

I’ve always been a Trek fan, but as much as I love it, Quantum Leap is my all-time favourite television show. I strongly identify with Scott Bakula’s portrayal of the time-travelling Sam Beckett, who is accompanied through his mission to make things right that once went wrong by the holographic appearance of his friend Al Calavicci.

In the early 90s, a series of novels was launched, running to eighteen books in total, and while they have been argued over in terms of canon, they allowed for more adventures with Sam and Al.

The Novel, obviously the first book, sees Sam leaping into Bob Watkins, a carnival worker in Jasmine, Oklahoma. It’s 10 July, 1957.

Despite the slowing and shutting down of the supercomputer, Ziggy, who helps oversee the project and works to figure out why Sam has leaped to where he has, Al informs Sam that he’s there to stop an accident, or is it murder?, when the brand new rollercoaster, the Killer Diller, opens and on its first run kills seven people.

Sam has four days to figure out who is responsible, and stop it from happening, but Bob’s body has some issues, he suffered from polio as a child and one of his arms and legs aren’t as strong as they should be. Bob also has a reputation for seeing things and talking to himself.

I loved the idea of joining Sam and Al on new adventures, and while the story feels very much like a leap Sam would have done in the series, the way McConnell writes the dialogue for Sam and Al doesn’t always feel like the characters, I don’t hear their delivery and intonation.

The story is definitely set after the episode ‘Shock Theater’ as McConnell makes reference to it. The Ziggy story thread, which heavily involves Al and some problems with Tina, is kind of curious, and seen through a modern era, could be a trans story, as it’s hinted that after this upgrade in programming, which Ziggy is undertaking, it may raise their voice an octave, which addresses the whole issue of Ziggy being initially referred to as he, and then she.

There’s also something with Sam between Leaps that doesn’t feel like it works. People are curious about what happens to Sam between leaps, but this doesn’t feel right. In fact, I think nothing happens between Leaps, he just moves from one to one, which is why the stop at Al’s Bar in ‘Mirror Image’ is so important, it allows Sam to rest.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like the story, I love leaping with Sam and Al, and having it in a novel form allows for a longer tale, and consequently, more time with these characters that I love.

And since we know he doesn’t leap home, let’s find out where he leaps in the next book, Too Close For Comfort.

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