The Klaatu Terminus

Author: Pete Hautman

Type: Fiction, novel

Part of series: The Klaatu Diskos (#3)

Published: 2014

I read it: January 2015

klaatu

It’s the end of the road for Pete Hautman’s Klaatu Diskos mythology. In the first book we met our classic young male protagonist, Tucker Feye. In installment number two, the action shifted to the otherworld traveler Lia. Here, Hautman keeps things nicely parallel by centering the final story on yet another figure, Tucker’s uncle Kosh. The heart of the book is a simple story of forbidden love between a young Kosh and his brother’s fiancee. He’s a bad boy who’s not all that bad, who is great at cooking and respectful of his older, very different brother (Tucker’s father). Kosh pops up in a couple different iterations based on the multiple timelines, and also meets a couple strangely different versions of his crush, Emily. These chapters help keep the story grounded while Tucker and Lia rush in and out of the diskos, escaping one danger only to confront another.

The book is fast-paced and fun, and thankfully the story holds together as much as we can expect it to. The characters and mythology remain a bit scattered, and I’d definitely recommend reading this trilogy in succession instead of over the course of years like I did. If anything, the story is another entry into the intriguing paradoxes and possibilities of time travel. When Tucker asks, “But we can change what happens?” he receives the not-unreasonable answer of “Yes. No.” The other cool concept is the existence of the ghostlike digital Klaatu. Do you remember that Black Mirror episode where the woman interacts with a technological stand-in for her dead husband? A similar thing is going on here. One character sums it up as such:

The Klaatu believe themselves to be superior creatures, and in many ways they are. However, they lost something of themselves when they transcended. One might say they worship the lives they left behind.

Hautman’s strength is that he brings up big ideas about culture, technology, and religion, but refrains from taking any clear side. There is plenty of gray area for the characters to sift through; the flip side is that the story is somewhat unfocused because it tries to have it all. It could have been more tightly conceived, but as far as finding a conversation-starting series for a teen and a parent to enjoy together, you could do a lot worse. And for the Minnesota/Wisconsin crowd, you’ll recognize pieces of home.

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