One of The Washington Post 's best science fiction and fantasy books of the year
The acclaimed author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion returns with a compelling novel about the effects of science and technology on our friendships, our love lives, and our sense of self. Read more...
One of The Washington Post's best science fiction and fantasy books of the year
The acclaimed author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion returns with a compelling novel about the effects of science and technology on our friendships, our love lives, and our sense of self.
Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the President seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; her dreams are full of disquiet. Meanwhile, her husband's decade-long dedication to his invention, the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you not call a -time machine-) has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or can possibly imagine.
Version Control is about a possible near future, but it's also about the way we live now. It's about smart phones and self-driving cars and what we believe about the people we meet on the Internet. It's about a couple, Rebecca and Philip, who have experienced a tragedy, and about how they help--and fail to help--each other through it. Emotionally powerful and stunningly visionary, Version Control will alter the way you see your future and your present.
Dexter Palmer’s second novel, Version Control, is the kind of rich, multilayered book that often feels like it is raising more questions than answers. The first is the question of exactly what type of book it is: Is it a deeply personal story of a marriage and the human condition, or is it a cerebral exploration of the world of astrophysics and time travel? Is it science fiction or literary fiction?
A description does little to clear this matter up. Version Control tells the story of married couple Rebecca and Philip Wright. Rebecca works in customer support for a web-based dating service, while Philip is a scientist who has been toiling on what some might call a time machine (though he adamantly refers to it as a “causality violation device”) that has made him a joke in the physics community. Though the two have known heartbreak and disappointment, their life together is generally comfortable. Yet Rebecca can’t shake the feeling that the world is “wrong.” Could Philip’s device be the way to set things right? Or might it actually be the source of Rebecca’s anxiety and unease?
Expansive in scope, Version Control burrows into issues of science and technology, religion, relationships, racism and free will. It would be easy for issues to overshadow the story, but Palmer—who has a Ph.D. in English from Princeton—deftly keeps the many components in harmony. The result is an intellectual novel that feels surprisingly intimate and accessible. Weighty yet emotionally rewarding, Version Control will appeal to all curious readers, regardless of their scientific background.