Love can find you in the most unexpected of places.
Even so, if you’re Connie MacAdair, a mathematics prodigy who has spent her entire life in love with numbers and theorems, and reviled in certain quarters as a hopeless nerd as a result, it’s a fair bet you’re not even looking for it.
Not even with old one night stand Sé, who wanted far, far more but fumbled, among the company of top mathematical minds gathered together at the University of Cambridge to solve a riddle so fiendishly difficult that it has stumped even the esteemed astrophysics department and other brilliant minds.
And certainly not when the prestigious scholarship that Connie thought was hers and her alone turning out to be a group prize shared between Sé, Evelyn, Arnold, Ranjit and a distinctly but handsome and strangely appealing man Luke Beith who insists on referring to Connie, possessor of lustrous ginger locks as, naturally enough, “Hair”.
Luke was lying stretched out on his back, staring at the sky.
“Hair,” he said dreamily, as if half asleep, not turning his head. He had taken off his glasses, and again those large eyes were dark shadows on his face. Connie followed his gaze. He was staring intently at the clear sky, the stars overshadowed by the moonlight. (P. 36)
The socially-awkward mathematician has far more on her mind that making herself a target for Cupid’s arrows particularly when the data she and her new colleagues-then-friends have to work through then interpret with paper and pen – no computers allowed in a project run by the most secret of the UK’s secret organisations, headed by the dapper, devoted-to-his-cause Nigel – turns out to herald the possible imminent arrival of an alien species from the distant Kepler-186f.
Not that anyone is admitting to that and certainly in front of anyone not cleared for that kind of information.
As Connie and her new friends continue their work in sealed, windowless rooms, and sometimes at their reasonably lavish accommodation on campus, she begins to suspect that they know far more than the authorities around them, that they are the lynchpins of the project and quite possibly, if the aliens turn out to be real and of blow-up-the-White-House-Independence Day variety, the ones who will be instrumental in saving its butt.
But first things first what is she to do with Luke, who delights in pushing grand pianos down narrow corridors, whose room is suspiciously bare of any personal effects and whose gawky, ill-at-ease demeanour only finds some peace when he’s lying out in the fields in the dead of night staring up at the full panoply of the night sky?
To all intents and purposes, at least at first, Resistance is Futile, which reads as a wholly satisfying bridge between the “chick lit” Jenny T. Colgan (aka Jenny Colgan) is perhaps best known for, and the sci-fi novels such as the 2012 Doctor Who tie-in novel Dark Horizons reads as the kind of girl-meets-boy-meets-weird-soul story that is her favoured genre stock in trade.
Nothing wrong with that of course since Colgan’s stories burst forth with wit, charm, clever observational humour and a willingness to have some fun while telling a thoroughly satisfying story.
But then she begins to infuse the science fiction elements which are also her great passion – she is a dedicated Whovian and her deep affection for this genre is on display in glorious detail throughout the book – into Resistance is Futile and we have on our hands an altogether different literary animal.
Time seemed to slow. Connie looked on, her heart full of confusion. What if it was a trick or a mistake or simply not true? What if she had been wrong; that she had been taken in by his odd charm, and by the strange things that appeared to be happening; that were undeniably happening all around them? That they were all having some kind of collective hysterical breakdown brought on by the death of their boss and the alien signal? (P. 113)
One that deftly and pleasingly combines love sweet unexpectedly transcendant love with some beautifully-realised science fiction elements, giving us a narrative with robust momentum, real heart and some thoughtfully-arrived at ruminations on the nature of the species and our propensity for both love and war, a characteristic that it turns out may be more universal than we give it credit for.
As hybrids go, Resistance is Futile is a joy (and heartbreaking at times), a book that combines an all-abiding love story, one that does not end as you might want or expect but which makes sense and stirs the heart, some staunchly quirky elements which fit perfectly given the nerdy characters assembled, and some near-to Earth-transcending action that reminds you of the commonality of all things.
Those who sneer at the idea of chick lit, as it is rather condescendingly known, and science fiction in isolation will no doubt have a catatonic fit at the idea of them joining forces, but if you’re a fan of either or both genres, and you should be, you will marvel at the sure way Colgan combines the two, giving us a rich, sweet, delightful, and intensely moving and thoughtful, fast-moving story that you will fall in love with just as profoundly as Connie falls for the very odd but possessed of unimagined depths Luke.