I am reading the four books of the Threshold series and I am convinced of a few things. It would make a solid multi-season tv show, where there’s some good juicy roles here, there’s a lot of variety and suspense built into it, and there’s some solid connectivity between the books, but also distinction both in the plot and the storytelling. The books kind of already read like someone who tried to get a job as a screenwriter but then turned to novels. The built-in story beats and pacing are already all here.
I also have learned that Peter Clines likes to have a guy in one job be mysteriously good at things to where someone says “Wait, what did you USED to do” or something like that.
14 begins with Nate being told about a too-good-to-be-true apartment in Los Angeles. It’s something like 550 a month. I once paid 375 a month for an apartment, but that was in a small town in upstate New York. Anyway, he goes to check it out and as he’s looking at it, someone is moving out and says something like “Good luck, buddy!”. I didn’t know anything about this book going in, so I was pleased with the way it trickles out the mystery.
He moves in and begins to find it just as as weird and disturbing as you’d hope for as a reader. I have to say though it’s not like terrifying in the most straightforward of ways, but deeply unsettling. It shares that with House of Leaves, which is masterful at deeply unsettling if not straight up terrifying. This book swims in that cosmic horrory way of doing things. He meets his neighbors and they also seem interested in the same things as him but are guarded. He begins to find that by talking to them all, there’s some connections between them and some weird coincidence. And so they go exploring. And they find some things out, that’s for sure. It’s worth me not telling you what exactly.
The Fold 4/5
Set in the same universe as 14, so if you’ve read that one, you can already guess a few things about this one. Anyway, we meet Mike, a high school English teacher finishing up the school year, on the day he’s approached by an old friend who works for “the Government”. He asked to join a project as a kind of auditor, and while he initially is hesitant, a budget hearing where he learns about the scientific discoveries being made convinces him to join.
At the meeting he learns that a team of scientists has designed a kind of teleportation device. He understands that the device doesn’t move the matter, but collapses reality around them, so that by stepping through the portal, the space inbetween has been folded, not the people themselves moved. Mike, by the way, is a genius with eidetic memory, and works as a high school English teacher as a specific choice because of the value he feels for the work (dawww!) and not out of kind of failure or untapped potential. But he’s convinced to join. His job is check on the viability of the project and confirm that what seems right about it is in fact right.
What he finds is not that it’s not working or that the scientists are lying about the technology, but that something IS off and that they don’t actually fully understand what they’re doing. We start the whole novel off with a husband coming home to his wife only to find that the woman he thought he married to is not the woman who is living in his house. The solution to this mystery goes back to the lab itself.
This book is again more cosmic horror, and really has a lot more action than the first book and it happens in a kind of all-of-a-sudden kind of way. Again, would make for a great second season of the tv show.
Dead Moon 3/5
In the third book of the Threshold books (and for those who haven’t read any of the previous ones: the basic universe is a cosmic horror (ala HP Lovecraft) along with some multiverse things tossed in), we are in the future where the moon is now “colonized”. There are several cities there, mostly acting like tourist destinations and work camps. In addition, there’s a cottage industry of moon burials because “all the space has been used up on Earth”. As a set up, I think it’s kind of weak, explained with discussions about how some religions are still adherents to burial (not a problem), but that the land on Earth is used up, which I find less a compelling idea. Just having there be a lot of burials on the moon because of decades of colonization would have worked. It’s a volume issue though because the book wants the numbers to be much higher. Anyway. Our protagonists are “caretakers” whose job it is to deal with the influx of incoming dead bodies to be buried. By the way, we have a space elevator, which helps explain the cost-issue.
Well a meteor or something hits the moon and sends waves of radiation around the planet and now we have space zombies. But like every zombie movie, we have to first have it explained that zombies are fictional creatures, but the metaphor of zombies is the closest approximation so we should not be looking for parallels in other books and media. For one thing, these zombies are not intelligent exactly, but clearly have some sort of working intellect that allows them to like problem solve. Obviously this gets explained later on.
Those of you have read 14 and The Fold can make a guess where this book goes, since it’s part of that wider universe.
The final book of the Threshold books and apart from the digression of Dead Moon, the culmination, at least of the main story begun in 14 and carried through The Fold. There’s some revisiting of characters and places, and there’s choices being made of who to bring back and why.
The story begins in two places, which will connect later in the story. The first is on a large shipping vessel, where Chase has booked passage in an attempt to get away from something. He and another civilian are among the crew of more seasoned sailors. They are in the middle of the Indian Ocean and an approaching storm threatens to overtake the ship. While the ship will certainly be safe, the captain approaches the two civilians tells them for safety and insurance reasons, he plans to put them ashore a small island nearby to wait out the story, just in case something happens to the ship.
In the other story Anne and Murdoch are reunited, not as lovers, which they once were, but as two members of a cryptically-described church that readers of 14 will recognize. Anne is newly appointed minister and Murdoch is returning to the faith of his youth, with significant doubts. The facts of the religion are not in question, but the spiritual definition is. This cult, which worships to the Great Ones (basically Cthulus) is circulating around recent signs of their ultimate purpose coming into fruition.
As you can imagine, this involves that island I mentioned before. It’s ultimately a pretty satisfying conclusion to the who series, but also decidedly less epic than I was hoping for given the scope of the first two books.
Paradox Bound 3/5
This book involves a town in Maine where Eli lives. It feels a little stuck in the past, with no real cable or internet to speak of. Twice as a child he has met Harry, a mysterious traveler who appears in strange moments dressed in Revolutionary war garb and driving a Model A. (It never gets less cringey than this suggests I hate to tell you). He notices that even though these meetings are years apart, Harry never changes, and he also can’t help notice in the second meeting that Harry is actually a woman. So when Eli is older, he is actively waiting to run into Harry again. And of course he does. What you can guess about Harry is that she is some kind of time traveler and that Eli is about to get wrapped up in her adventures. What you and Eli can’t guess, is the nature of those adventures. I won’t get into it, but suffice to say that if you’ve read six other Peter Clines books like I have this year, you’ll roll with it, and if it not, who knows how you’ll feel. It’s not offensive but it’s well, something.