Quantum Leap: Prelude (1994) – Ashley McConnell

Ashley McConnell’s fourth Quantum Leap novel, Prelude, reworks some of the events seen at the beginning of the pilot, ties directly in with her second novel, Too Close For Comfort, and takes us back to when Doctor Sam Beckett and a newly retired Admiral Al Calavicci reconnected following the shutdown of Project Starbright to focus on Sam’s new project, a parallel hybrid computer that will enable Dr. Beckett to travel in time.

It’s not my favourite of the novels McConnell has written, I wasn’t a big fan of the way moments leading into the opening scenes of the pilot were changed, and much like Sam, I didn’t care for the politics and all the behind-the-scenes manipulations that were going on to take the project from Sam.

I know these events are hinted at during the saga sell that opens weekly episodes, and I know politics would have played a big part in the continuing operation of the project but the ones at work in the story, not to mention the tech baddie created for the story didn’t always feel like they worked.

There’s some fun stuff in seeing how the core members of the project are brought together. There’s Al’s fascination with Tina, Gooshie’s halitosis, the way the neurological cells for Ziggy were gathered and how they connected Al, Ziggy and Sam.

The relationship between Sam and Al works and feels very much like the one we come to know in the series, and the little nods to the other characters are appreciated by fans. In fact, there are tons of little easter eggs to pick up throughout the novel. The most blatant one is that one of the baddies has the last name of Weyland.

There are also nods to other science fiction films, tales, and stories if you know your genre. None of them are too distracting, and they elicit a smile each and every time.

McConnell does give us an inside view of how the project came together, the work on it, how those who worked there interacted, and the things they did. There are some questionable things, like the altered update to Ziggy, which doesn’t really seem to affect him.

There are also a couple of hints of mini-leaps before Sam has even leaped (caused by an attack that almost has Sam dying on the operating table). Some of these things seem like contrivances, and other parts work really well, fleshing out the backstory.

McConnell knows her genre and has a fairly strong handle on the Leap-verse, but this time out it didn’t take me in as much as her previous entries. She delivers one more Leap novel, but before that, a couple of other authors will guide Sam and Al on their leaps. Next time around, author Melanie Rawn introduces Sam to the Knights of the Morningstar.

Oh boy.

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