Opalescence starts out in a future of total ecological collapse, desperation and regret. When time travel to an unspoiled prehistoric past is accidentally discovered by scientists at the Institute de Physica, a particle accelerator in southern California, the government is immediately interested. Maybe this will be their out. They send two people back to investigate. One, Julie Pine, a paleontologist, and secretly dedicated conservationist, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, and Detrich Jaqzen, a professional hit man, as her bodyguard. Problem is, Jaqzen is also a big-game hunting rogue who has designs on Julie, a married woman, and relishes a virgin, primeval world where he can sport hunt to his heart's content.
After the two fail to return in 30 days time the crew at the Institute learn of Jaqzen's treachery. Subversively, they decide to send Julie's husband, Tom, back to rescue her, but at the last minute government troops break in to stop the launching, shooting up the place. A man falls over the controls, changing them, and Tom is still sent, but now to a locality many hundreds of miles off target. He soon discovers, to his dismay, that he will have to make his way down the length of wild, prehistoric California to find Julie. Yet all this long journey Tom revels in a world of stunning beauty, ecological diversity - and mortal danger. A world that, from his Anthropocene point of view, he had no idea ever existed. At the end of it, though, he knows he will have to confront Jaqzen.
“OPALESCENCE tells a story of the future turned back into the distant past, leading humanity from terrible dystopian conclusion to a hopeful renewal in tune with Nature. The two heroes, Tom and Julie, adapt to a wonderful world that turns out to be California 15 million years ago. This world is rich with land and sea creatures, and many ecological settings beautifully drawn by a very knowledgeable author. Our two heroes survive many trials in this novel wilderness setting and also, in the denoument, overcome a powerful villain who, ironically, was sent as Julie’s bodyguard. My favorite of our heroes’ many adventures involves the domestication, each independently, of a dog-like Aelurodon, and a Hypohippus, three-toed horse.
At the heart of this adventure are the lush life and dynamic geography of California in the middle Miocene. The many sketches of the heroes’ encounters are both lovely and lively. I’d gladly get a ticket to travel to that same opalescent place.”
Also "Top Read for 2016".