The Vinyl Enigma by Robert Love is a science fiction novel featuring what appears to be a phonograph record. The story begins with Nigel Thompson, a world renowned English composer, who was given the disc by an old shopkeeper. He finds the disc to play original classical concerts, many of which were performed before the technology existed to record these events. Nigel pens a cryptic note describing the bizarre events of his life while in possession of this strange disc, referred to as the Record, and buries the note with the Record, in hopes that it be “hidden from humanity for a long time.” Strange circumstances cause the Record to be excavated from its burial plot and it falls into the hands of MIT engineering professor, Evan Blake.
Unlike Nigel Thompson, Blake hears only Jazz music on the disc and upon examination discovers the Record contains highly advanced nanotechnology far superior to anything heard of on Earth. Blake assumes the disc was sent to Earth to relay some sort of message and shares this discovery with a friend and biochemistry professor, Jeanette Menard. The two begin to study the Record in earnest and become engrossed in deciphering the message. Meanwhile other forces are at work to assume ownership of this mysterious disc, and Blake and Menard find themselves being pursued by a French crime ring and the Russian government, both parties that will stop at nothing to obtain the Record. Eventually Blake and Menard, along with a couple others travel to Siberia in order to discover the true meaning of the disc’s existence. What will they discover? What are the implications to the future of the human species and of Earth?
I found this story to be very unique, unlike anything I’ve ever read and greatly appreciate the creativity that was surely inspired to accomplish such an undertaking. The writing kept me wanting to read on – in fact I actually read the entire thing in just a couple of sittings. There were parts about nanotechnology and biochemistry that I didn’t fully understand, but I felt the author did a good job explaining the technical parts. I would have liked to have gotten to know the characters a little better. While I understood their roles in the story, there wasn’t really one character whose head I could “get inside” to view the story from that person’s view.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Vinyl Enigma and believe it will be a big hit with science fiction and technology fans.
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