You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.
Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
Imagine Dark Matter on steroids, throw in a helping of 11/22/63 and sprinkle on a bit of Back to the Future and you have All Our Wrong Today’s.
Tom is a bit of a screw up in the sense that his father is a genius and he isn’t. He’s the kind of guy who girls just can’t get into and he gets jobs on the basis that because his father is a genius, then he must have some brains, but eventually his employers find out that he is a screw up and let him go. Victor Barren is working on time travel and when he finally gets it up and running he puts Tom on a back up team for the trial run. When a tragedy strikes and Tom ends up back in 1965 he changes life, not only as he knows it, but for everyone. It all goes to hell from there.
Tom, Tom/John and others who make an appearance in Tom’s personality is fascinating to read. How he longs for what he lost only to find that what he has just might be better than the failure of a life he left behind in the other 2016 timeline. In our 2016 he is relatively famous, rich but also a bit of a dick. When he tries to prove to his current family that he isn’t nuts and that he has traveled through time from another time line, that opens up another can of worms for him. Can he make things right or will it all go tits up and make things worse?
This is one hell of a mind twisting story that leaves your brain scrambled at the end trying to figure out just what is going on for a brief time. There is a lot of scientific and technical talk but it is intrinsic to the story and while it seems all bit strange it really adds to the storyline. There is a lot of internal monologue that floats in and out of normal speech with others, but there is a lot of rambling in Tom’s head. The internal battle to fight the other current reality personality in his head is also akin to him fighting the demons of his past as well as his present. He fights against the fact that his fathering the other timeline barely acknowledge his existence and he struggles with the family he has in the current time line. When he finds the proof he needs for them believe him it doesn’t go the way he expects. He seems to always be at the receiving end of things he can’t control. He wanted to prove his past father proud but instead he screws things up badly. This is a story of a guy who in trying to do right just made it worse.
I know that this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it was a brilliant and amazing book! One that dragged me in, I savoured and devoured it in equal measure. The sheer brilliance in the way its written shines, well for me anyway, throughout the book. It’s the detail in all the scientific bits that you know aren’t real but written in such a way that is seems oh so real at the same time.I have to admit that I am struggling to find the words to do justice to this book but there is so much to take in and digest that I feel I am not doing it properly. It’s an audacious first novel,the attention to detail, the time taken to make it perfect shows…… oh and it took him 15 years to write!
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review
Buy: Amazon UK