Libby McGugan’s The Fifth Force (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2)

My Favorite Scotland Author is back,


with a sequel to The Eidolon:

THE FIFTH FORCE (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2) by Libby McGugan

Amazon USA – order here
Amazon UK – order here

Libby McGugan

was born 1972 in Airdrie, a small town east of Glasgow in Scotland, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant-turned-atheist father, who loved science. She enjoyed a mixed diet of quantum physics, spiritual instinct, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Her ambition was to grow up and join the Rebel alliance in a Galaxy Far, Far away. Instead she went to Glasgow University and studied medicine. As an emergency physician, she has worked in Scotland, in Australia with the Flying Doctors service, and in a field hospital in the desert. She loves travelling and the diversity that is the way different people see the world, and has been trekking in the Himalaya of Bhutan, backpacking in Chile, USA and Borneo and diving in Cairns. Her biggest influences are Joseph Campbell, Lao Tzu, David Bohm, Brian Greene, JK Rowling and Yoda. The Book Plank, Posted 13th November 2013 by Jasper de Joode

The Eidolon,

Book One, illuminates the divide between science and spirit. In The Fifth Force, Book Two, the divide leads to a fast and furious battle of good vs evil.

The Fifth Force

continues the story of Robert Strong, a physicist who ends up in an altered state in Book One. His efforts to hide it are eerie, fascinating, and sometimes comical. On a passenger train, e.g.,

…the substance of his left arm began fading and the fuzzy blue chequered pattern of the seat emerged where his forearm should have obscured it.

Robert has to think fast, and above all FOCUS, to keep from turning transparent or invisible. An interesting problem to have, but the upside is that Robert, like those Project Stargate researchers in The Men Who Stare At Goats, can walk through walls and enter buildings unseen.

Useful talent for the hero of a thriller!

Both novels are well crafted, tautly constructed, strong, and intelligent.

It’s not easy to define, but the more I read books lacking in brain power, the more I love it when I find it: a sense that the author is alert, thoughtful, highly educated, and engaged.

I’m partial to stories packed full of science and history, imagination, and ideas. My favorite stories, more and more, are written by scientists and doctors, and they are blessed with storytelling skills as well as the high IQ to pass college-level physics . E.E. Giorgi (Italian-born) and Guy T. Martland (UK) are two more of my favorite scientist-authors, and if you haven’t heard of these fantastic speculative-fiction writers, you probably hadn’t heard of me either until now. I mention them often on Twitter, Facebook, and at Steemit, e.g. Photos of my Favorite Scientist-Authors.

Anyone who loves physics (and even those who don’t) will find much to love in the Quantum Ghosts Trilogy.

Libby McGugan is a physician who embraces the Robert Lanza view of the universe, i.e., she believes in life after death to the point that the line between the two is not all that well-defined (I haven’t internalized it to the point that I can paraphrase accurately).

Trailer for The Fifth Force, sequel to The Eidolon and Book 2 in the Quantum Ghosts Trilogy

Fellow writers,

Before I talk about the book, let me share a quote from Qwillery’s Interview with Libby McGugan, author of The Eidolon:

I found this technique a couple of years ago, and it’s something I apply to pretty much everything now. The idea is that before you do anything, you spend some time thinking about how it will feel when it’s completed the way you would like it to be.

After I went to the Writers’ Festival in York a couple of years ago, and got some direct, painful but extremely valuable feedback from an agent and publisher there, I was faced with a major rewrite. So I tried this technique. Before I wrote anything I’d do something else – go for a run, tidy up, whatever, and spend time imagining how it would feel to have written that particular part and feel really satisfied with it. Scene by scene, chapter by chapter, it all came together. So a story that had taken me three years to write, I rewrote (changing the narrative stance, tense and eighty percent of the plot) in ten weeks. Works for me!

I also write to movie soundtracks.

I wrote The Eidolon to the soundtracks of Inception, The Dark Knight, Gladiator and The Island.

I need to sift through my Kindle notes,

make sure I spell all the names right, and come back to this. The poker-playing scene with Danny is hilarious. Strange things happen when a few troublemakers taunt Ben and one tosses his toy car into a fire. ” The mass panic when people around the world suddenly develop telepathy is also scary but funny. “I’m not leaving until someone tells me how my mother can hear my thoughts!” one man cries. “Do you have any idea how intrusive that is?”

Hey! I just discovered that I can link my Amazon book purchases to Goodreads, and

My Kindle Highlights get posted at Goodreads!

If you care to look, click on the link above, not this screen shot:

Finding my highlights at Twitter

is more hit and miss; Goodreads keeps them all in one handy place.

The Revenants.

Not gonna talk about ’em (Spoilers!), so you should just rush out and buy this novel.

“Like a haar that rolls in from the sea to the coast, it brought with it not just a change in the light, but a chill that clung to the particles of air itself. But it was more than that. It was the feeling that hangs on the air when it knows a thunderstorm is coming. It settled on the crowd, like an intangible shroud. The birds fell silent and the air grew tight. Waiting.”

One-star bandits, the book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so hold your fire, please. Book Three will come – not soon enough for fans of the series, but as Libby says,

“Time’s a construct of the mind anyway!”

At the risk of fan-girling,

let me just say I love Libby’s outlook on life, her scientific knowledge, her insights, her wisdom (she’s ten year younger than me!), and her brilliance.

Did I mention I love Cora? In Book One, I found her annoying. This time around, she shines with insight, wisdom, and this accidental one-upmanship that endlessly endears her to me.

Libby’s practice as an Emergency physician has shifted to less conventional methods to heal our minds and bodies. See her Ted talks, e.g. Intentional medicine – shifting the focus of healthcare | Libby McGugan | TEDxGlasgow:

And read more about VR as a medical treatment here at

Our state of mind is our single biggest asset. Without understanding it, we’re barely scratching the surface of our potential… Using cutting edge VR technology, coupled with newly-proven Neuropsychological approaches, IO-Reality seek to revolutionize physical rehabilitation and skills development. We help people understand how state of mind works, to live their true potential in health, business and life.


Here is my review of Book One, The Eidolon:

MIXING SCIENCE, MURDER AND ESPIONAGE, Libby McGugan’s debut novel “The Eidolon” delivers two hooks I cannot resist: the atom smasher, and evidence of a human afterlife. Add strangelets, stigmery and WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), let the characters marvel at swarm intelligence in bees, and I can emphatically state that this is no run-of-the-mill thriller.

The opening scene is exquisitely cold, stark and beautiful. Snow swirls around two men as they near the top of Mt. Everest. The prose is riveting:

“I peer up at the faceless ascent and it stares back at me­, cold, unmerciful. The fear grips me for a moment. The kind of fear I’ve read about, when men who undertake this pilgrimage … realize that they’re nobody to the mountain; that it doesn’t care if they live or die … The wind is wailing like a tortured cat … There’s a point when pride needs to step aside for instinct, and it’s right here.”

Huddled in a hole in the snow, Robert takes the reader back in time. Through flashbacks we meet an earlier Robert on his way to work, where he’s about to verify his earth-shaking discoveries at the Dark Matter research lab. Like the storm that would keep him from the top of Mt. Everest, a shocking, sudden closing of the lab halts his life’s work. Dazed and demoralized, he comes home to find his live-in girlfriend talking to her sister’s ghost. Cora always was a New Age mystic sort of gal, but this is more juju than a recently fired physicist can take. Then again, his skepticism is more than a positive thinker like Cora can take, so she leaves him.

Still shivering in the snow, Robert suddenly senses the presence of another sentient being on the mountain. The scene is eerie and suspenseful, and plot spoilers keep me from saying more, but when Robert is safely home from Everest, the ghost of Cora’s sister starts appearing to him, too. He dismisses it as a stress-induced delusion and retreats to his childhood home in Scotland, but instead of shaking his gloom, he starts seeing more dead people.

Jobless and no longer sure of his sanity, Robert is ripe for the recruiting efforts of a scary-mysterious businessman who offers him one hundred thousand pounds for a week’s work. The catch? Victor Amos wants Robert to sabotage the famous, fabulous, hugely expensive and important Large Hadron Collider. Amos and his super-secret global guardians are on a mission to protect humanity from its own curiosity. They have compelling “evidence” that CERN’s next round of experiments could destroy the world, and only Robert can stop them. He remains skeptical until Amos pulls the last rabbit from his hat, a compelling surprise that induces Robert to accept the job.

I love Casimir, the bee-keeping, star-gazing neighbor who has a vast amount of knowledge about the cosmos in spite of no money for a university education. “The idea of finding dark matter always intrigued him. A hunch, he said, that it would change everything.” Every action and word from Casimir seems authentic. I want way more of him than the novel can give.

More intriguing than strangelets are the dead people Robert meets after infiltrates CERN. Yes, his social circle fills with dead people, or people who claim to be ghosts. They call themselves ‘eidolon’­-ancient Greek for apparition, a spirit-image of a living or dead person. Robert can shake hands with the eidolon and drink with them, while most people can’t see them at all. One is angry and in denial about being recently murdered; another is completely unaware of being dead. It’s the kind of New Age juju that divided Robert and Cora, but now our cynical physicist is joining the juju. I love the irony of that.

The most delightful irony is that Robert the skeptic, who scoffed at poor, bereft Cora and her sister’s ghost, ends up seeing far more of that sort of “impossible” stuff. Robert the cool, objective scientist, is one of earth’s most mystical of mystics, if he ever gets past his denial.

Every character is real and vivid. I love the hapless Danny, who plans the Everest trip, and Robert’s mother, and their head-shaking comments about Danny.

“Death is just a state of mind. Everything that can possibly happen is occurring at some point across multiverses, and this somehow means death cannot exist in any real sense, either.” Libby tells me that’s what she’s driving at with The Eidolon. Via email, Libby has corrected my misunderstanding that Robert gives credence to fears that the atom smasher may create black holes. His concern is the strangelets and the ‘Ice nine’-like reaction, which to this day is a concern for some scientists.

I’m eager to see Robert doing battle in a dark Edinburgh alley with a Revenant. What’s a Revenant? When Book Two comes out, you’ll know more than you ever wanted to about these spectral horrors.

Physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Aug 15, 2016 – Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature…

… this potential fifth force might be joined to the electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces as “manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force.”

A separate dark sector with its own matter and forces

“It’s possible that these two sectors talk to each other and interact with one another through somewhat veiled but fundamental interactions…This dark sector force may manifest itself as this protophobic force we’re seeing as a result of the Hungarian experiment. In a broader sense, it fits in with our original research to understand the nature of dark matter.”

Physicists Are Probing The Centre of Our Galaxy to Find The Missing Fifth Force of Nature

“If true, it’s revolutionary.”

… Thanks to our inability to figure out what dark matter actually is, some physicists (very controversially) want to ditch gravity as a fundamental force altogether.
But instead of permanently dropping one of the fundamental forces of nature in the hopes that the Universe will make more sense without it, what if we added a fifth force that ties gravity to the others in ways we’ve never thought of before?


Libby McGugan

has had a lifelong fascination with the boundary between science and the human spirit. Working for 10 years as an emergency medicine consultant gave her a solid grounding in science; witnessing the strength of the human spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges made her question what else might be going on.
She was nominated Best Newcomer in the British Fantasy Awards for her first novel, The Eidolon, which came to her following the death of her father, Tom, in 2007.
Her short story, The Game Changer was published in Jonathan Oliver’s anthology, Dangerous Games. She is a student and teacher of understanding the inside-out nature of the human experience and is constantly surprised by how life seems to know what it’s doing. When she’s not writing or teaching, she can be usually be found playing her fiddle and enjoying the company of family and friends in her favourite city, Glasgow.

Buy it now

THE FIFTH FORCE (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2)

Amazon USA 
Amazon UK

Until next time,


because Kean sounds like Kane (not keen, hint, hint)

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About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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1 Response to Libby McGugan’s The Fifth Force (Quantum Ghosts Trilogy Book 2)

  1. carolkean says:

    “A thriller that explores the nature of reality through an edge-of-the-seat story line featuring dark matter, the CERN laboratory, and the boundary between the living and the dead.” –The Book Plank


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