The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch (2018)

Science Fiction
Adult
The Gone World, by Tom SweterlitschFirst, take your time in reading this book. It is not one to rush. It’s to be savoured, taking time to ponder the latest plot twists as you try to figure out what the heck is going on! It’s at heart a mystery set in a science fiction world, not unlike the film Inception. In fact, I predict you’ll be seeing this story on the big screen in a year or two. Shannon Moss is a criminal investigator for the U.S. Navy. It’s 1997, and she’s called into the case of what appears to be a domestic murder involving a Navy SEAL. A wife and two children are dead, and both the eldest daughter and the husband are missing. But what the police don’t know is that the husband is actually an astronaut whose spaceship Libra and its entire crew is missing, lost during a secret trip to the future. When Moss discovers clues indicating more of the missing astronauts are here, she and her boss face the challenge of figuring out what really happened to the Libra and its crew, and how missing astronauts could have returned to earth undetected. Moss, who has a prosthetic limb from her own first experience with time travel, takes a trip 20 years into the future, hoping to find out how the murder was solved so she can return with clues to help her solve it in real time. But every trip to the future is an IFT, an Inadmissible Future Trajectory. It’s inadmissible simply because that is only one possible future. Our real world is solid but the future has an innumerable number of trajectories. But looming over every trip to the future is the realization that time travel is bringing the end of humanity closer to our present. Are you still with me? Yeah, that’s what the book is like. Moss is an amazing protagonist as she navigates possible futures, slowly solving the mystery with wispy clues that collide and dissolve as Moss travels back and forth between 1997 and several different futures. The same people appear, but their paths to the future are so different that a sexy good guy colleague in one future is a bad cop threat in another. (Did you ever read Stephen King’s Desperation and the mirror novel The Regulators? Like that.) Sweterlitsch has created an appealing, moody and powerful protagonist for a world that is both familiar and like nothing you’ve ever seen. Thought-provoking, lingering, and staggering in its breadth and complexity, this is one of the best sci-fi novels I’ve read in years. My thanks to publisher Penguin Putnam for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34643289
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