Quantum Leap: Search and Rescue (1994) – Melissa Crandall

While I didn’t actively dislike this entry in the Quantum Leap novel series, it is arguably the weakest of the bunch so far, and the only thing that really makes it a Quantum Leap story is the fact that both Sam Beckett and Al Calavicci are in it.

But there are a number of continuity errors with the series that are more than a little troubling. In this story, both Sam and Al leap, caused by a storm near the project’s location in New Mexico. Alright, sure I guess. Al could have been in the Accelerator when the lightning struck, but why was Sam’s body there and not in the Waiting Room?

Then, not only was Al leaped back at the end of the story (not really a spoiler because we know that the novels can’t change anything too drastically), but he’s able to be leaped back without a problem, there was no retrieval program initiated, it just happened.

There’s also the reveal that Ziggy, in her/his only appearance in the book is able to temporarily transmit information to both Sam and Al via their neural link. Something that never happened before or again.

Honestly, most of the book feels like a search and rescue story with Sam and Al shoehorned into the narrative. Sam is travelling with the father of one of the people that has been lost in a plane crash in the Canadian Rockies. The father is dying from leukemia and has distanced himself from his daughter Lyndell, now he’s desperate to find her before it’s too late.

Al is in the party that has survived the plane crash and is trying to keep things together. Both he and Sam know that their mission is to get the survivors rescued but to also reunite father and daughter, something that no doubt would’ve happened post-rescue anyway.

I find that the best things about Leap stories, outside of the ones that have brilliant, and still relevant social commentary, is the friendship between Sam and Al, the interplay they share. Having them both leap in this story, and keeping them separate for the entire story (until it’s conclusion, of course) doesn’t do the novel any favours.

It didn’t feel like a Leap tale, and by bouncing between the two main stories, the search and the rescue, none of the characters are able to get fleshed out more than being interchangeable cardboard characters.

It’s not a horrible story, it just could have been a lot better, what if Sam had leapt twice, once into the crash survivors, and then into the searchers, and then he would have had Al by his side.

Maybe the next entry will be stronger, when author Ashley McConnell gets one more Leap go-round with Random Measures. Oh boy.

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