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In 2115, an authoritarian regime discovers a time-travel device invented before the technology existed to make it work. “Thinkwaves” are sent into another human body across space and time, killing that body’s owner and installing the designated traveler—as long as three logical protocols are observed. The most important of these concerns the first time-travel paradox: the voyage cannot alter either the present or the past.

The reconnaissance team from the future kidnaps Max Burkowski, the inventor’s eighteen-year-old son, from his computer science class in Washington, D.C., in an effort to extort the father’s sources before spiriting Max away to 2115. With no warning, Max finds himself a century in the future, in Beijing, mysteriously freed from the crippling headaches that have plagued him since his dad’s early experiments.

With him is Frank Bootsma, a thirty-seven-year-old, rather odd Jesuit brother, who says that he has been abducted for a related reason. Frank is astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and on the verge of a new theory about the nature of time when he stumbles onto a centuries-old Vatican practice to manipulate time. All the while, a small but growing voice inside him reproaches him for joining the Catholic Church against his Dutch Reformed father’s wishes and sending his father to an early grave. While Frank and Max struggle to find a way back home, the leader of the 2115 recon team, Major Roto Ashlev, homes in on Bootsma and the Vatican while his two accomplices take care of the Burkowskis. But their mission derails as Ashlev realizes that the mysterious connection between Bootsma and Burkowski is unsolvable. Thus, he must follow his own path and complete a part of the mission that he believes to be hidden from his superior back in 2115.

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