Preceding the years of World War 2, in Berlin, an accident is caused by the teleportation apparatus devised by Loeser, a stage director. It was made for a play which is also about an accident that happened in seventeenth century when another teleportation device made by set designer Lavicini for a play malfunctioned, killing as many as 25 spectators including himself. The accident in Berlin, though a minor one injuring only the hero of the play, sets off a chain of events which makes Loeser to chase a girl named Adele Hitler (no relations), across countries and to finally learn the truth about Lavicini's accident.
Ned Beauman's novel The Teleportation Accident cannot be pigeon-holed. Under a thick veil of black comedy, can be spotted multiple genres- sci-fi, spy, murder mystery, romance- lurking inside. It is a delightful read if you are ready for all the roller coaster thrills due to the subversion of expectations. The style of its prose is heavily ornated. The novel on the whole is a weird concoction of contrasts.
The characters of this novel are eccentric people who are tough nuts to crack. Loeser is the kind of guy who seems idiotic, self centered and one who bumbles along the plot. But like all the other people in it, who invariably have a mean streak running in them, the guy seems genuine and capable of free thought and change. It is this approach of the novelist that makes even the worst of them posses a human quality that endears the readers.
The Teleportation Accident deals with the concepts of space and time. Teleportation is the process of instantly transferring an object from one point to another. In the novel the characters consider only spacial coordinates while referring about teleportation. But the novel subtly alludes the fluidity of time also, by its structure that suddenly moves forward in time, chunks together, without any change accounted in its characters. Also in the climax, novelist unveil this concept glaringly by teleporting a character in time.
The novel displays several parallels between past, present and future. It seems to acknowledge the existence of a connection that links the events from different points of time. One theme that keeps recurring is the similarities between the lifespan of cities. Novel tries to establish that all major cities undergo similar evolutionary changes in social, cultural, political and economic fronts irrespective of the historical period. The need for finding teleportation in every era is established by the requirements of the development of public transport system in growing cities. The failure to invent it is given as a reason for the evolution of public transport.
Another interesting parallel is established between characters of Loeser and Lavicini. It is their carnal desires that drives them in their journey. They are in oblivion about the history that happens around them. Loeser at one point even predicts that the one person who may never make a difference in his life is going to be Adolf Hitler. Their respective character arcs reaches the zenith when they finally realises their folly and both discard their objects of desire.
The Teleportation Accident is a hugely enjoyable strange and wild ride through multiple coordinates of space and time, inhabited by the craziest of characters in a hyperbolic narrative. It entertains in a bizarre way, all the while giving our grey cells enough intellectual exercise.