The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I honestly didn't expect this novel to be quite as hard-hitting as it turned out to be.
From the opening passages, I was plunged into a nightmare future world of nanotech and some humanity-ending Cthulhu-esq horrorshow of humans hanging from trees, undying hoards of men and women running, insane, and us, time-travelers in a spacecraft, observing our own future end creeping up on us sooner and sooner and sooner.
OMG, I LOVE THIS. This just blows me away.
But right before it scares off the normals, the author backs us up and plants us firmly in a top-secret NCIS investigatory world that has time travel and deep-space spacecraft. And mundane murder on the world in the meantime. And the means to travel through time to help solve the sticklers. :)
I think I loved all the hard-SF elements the most, second by the MANY MANY MANY shadow-worlds of time, the worldbuilding, the heavy thought put into this reality. Time and multiverses work a bit differently than our run-of-the-mill time-travel stories. We deal with dark forests and multiple branches that loop back in on themselves but all tend to converge in truly horrific ways that are perfectly aligned to make us totally freak out... in the end. Shadow worlds. Popping bubbles of reality. Hopping and erasures and yet... the END OF HUMANITY...
Am I squeeing? Yes, I am.
I'm not just squeeing over the SF and Horror side of the novel. This will probably blow your mind.
It's also a great thriller. Not just a truly excellent time-travel novel with a lot more than its fair share of surprises, twists and turns, but it's a full-on excellent modern thriller. Murder mysteries, a full complement of FBI tracking, footwork, NCIS, as well as hopping through time and multiple worlds to meet up with partners, often not in the know, murders before they happen, suspects before they ever get a glimmer of their later involvement in the events that END HUMANITY. Every little murder is a mystery within a mystery within a mystery, and it still has to lead to the meeting on other worlds with strange alien or time-like or nanotech or Dreamtime or Ragnarokian origins. :)
We're all left wondering and wondering and wondering. The author knows his craft. :)
And you know what is perhaps the best part?
The characters. Shannon is awesomely deep and interesting in her own right. As a thriller it succeeds on all these little life-details across the board, perfectly separate from the SFnal and Horror bits. And most of the novel IS exactly this.
I cannot see a universe in which this particular novel doesn't make it ultra-huge. I mean, it has all the elements and high-craft of a super-huge best-seller. As a genre-masher, it's perfectly mainstream and exciting and entirely in line with what people seem to WANT. And it excels at each part! No half-ass aspect anywhere. :)
So I liked it, right?
Oh, hell yeah. :) Hit me out of nowhere and I'm a total convert. :)
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