Quantum Leap: Random Measures (1994) – Ashley McConnell

After Search and Rescue I had to step away from Quantum Leap books for awhile, not only cause it was my least favourite to date, but I had other things to read (my To Be Read pile is not going to read itself) and reading the blurb for Random Measures, the next book in the Leap series, and marking the return and final book of Ashley McConnell for the series, didn’t instill me with a lot of confidence.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about it. This is arguably McConnell’s best book from the Leap novels she wrote, and while there are passing nods to her past novels, tying everything all together, they aren’t necessary to the arc of the story.

Sam Beckett leaps into Wickie Grey Wolf, a young Native American man in 1975, and moments after he arrives, things are already changing. We’ve seen the ripple in the series before this, the senator changing right in front of Al Calavicci with no one else being aware of the change, and Ziggy, the supercomputer, has detailed changes in the immediate environment before, usually in terms of romantic relationships in the Project centering around Al.

This time, however, there’s a massive change.

As soon as Al steps out of the Imaging Chamber his present has changed to include a new wife, Janna Calavicci. Something Sam has done in the past has created this timeline where Al has gotten married (again) and he’s really in love.

So while Al tries to reconcile his two sets of memories, with and without Janna, he spends some time with the new love of his life, because he knows as soon as he steps into the Imaging Chamber he could step out and be single again, and he may have never met Janna in the first place.

Meanwhile, in 1975, Sam is dealing with pregnant teenagers, underage drinking, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and just some plain old hatred and racism in the small town of Snowy Owl.

While Ziggy attempts to figure out what Sam is supposed to put right, Al is in a crisis of conscience over his love life and his best friend, and Dr. Verbeena Beeks is chatting to Wickie (in the form of Sam) in the Waiting Room to see if she can help the young man, and help Ziggy put all the pieces together to allow Sam to leap.

I really enjoyed this one, I liked that McConnell eschewed the in-between Leaps that she introduced for Sam, and I quite liked how she brought Al’s dilemma to life, and make it feel important not only to Al, but the reader.

Next time around, L. Elizabeth Storm delivers her first leap novel with Pulitzer. Oh boy.

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