More than anything else, Marco Guarda's CREDENCE FOUNDATION is a love story. Sure, it's science fiction - there's space travel, other planets, and a fascinating new technology that will surely intrigue sci-fi fans. But the heart of the story is protagonist Christian Trumaine's desperate need to reconnect with his estranged wife, Starshanna, who is living apart from him on a planet in another galaxy. The plot of the novel revolves around a mysterious murder that took place inside a sealed and secure underground residence. Detective Trumaine's investigation leads to a company called The Credence Foundation, which has harnessed the power of the human brain to greatly enhance space travel. Gradually it becomes clear that this new neurological technology is behind the murder of the scientist, as well as the disappearance of a massive cargo shuttle. On that level, this is a detective story. But ultimately it's Trumaine and Shanna's story that holds CREDENCE FOUNDATION together. I found it charming, identifiable, and true.
The neurological technology in the novel is based on a theory that a collective of shared "beliefs" can affect the physical universe. In the novel, a group of five hundred "Believers" working for the Credence Foundation enter a trance state, in which their minds are directed by a computer program. In this way, they are able to actually move an entire space ship light years away from earth in seconds - if all five hundred "believe" that the ship has moved, it will move. Guardo suggests that this is indeed possible, and that it has something to do with the thalamus gland in the human brain - the science isn't much more developed than that, but it's interesting nonetheless. The work of the "Believers" is reminiscent of the film "The Matrix," where unconscious humans create a detailed virtual reality world. But in CREDENCE FOUNDATION, the created reality becomes real. And it's just the beginning of what such focused "believing" can accomplish.
This isn't a perfect novel. The beginning is excruciatingly slow and plodding, with way too many over-blown descriptions and clunky similes. But hang in there, because once the story actually begins, it's both engaging and fast-paced. There are more than a few typographical and grammatical errors, some of which are annoying (there are far too many fragmented sentences, missing words, and word substitutions, for example). Additionally, there are some odd anachronisms that make it difficult to get a feel for what this future world is really like - on the one hand, it is suggested that the story is taking place at least a hundred years or more in the future, but at the same time there are still milkmen delivering door to door, Trumaine remembers the sound of an old-fashioned manual typewriter, and computer key cards are still in use. It's all a little weird.
Overall, I enjoyed CREDENCE FOUNDATION. The ending is exciting (and the murder investigation is satisfyingly resolved), and I was very involved in Trumaine's relationship with Shanna and their daughter (their pet dolphin is cool, too!). Guarda says this began as a screenplay, and parts of it (especially in the beginning) do read more like a film treatment than a novel. I definitely think it would make a good movie.
[Please note: I was given a copy of this novel for review. The opinions expressed here are my own.]