Book Review – The Gone World

the gone world

“The totality of human endeavor is nothing when set against the stars.”
― Tom Sweterlitsch

Frankly, I picked this one up after watching ‘Tenet’ trailer, someone on Reddit mentioned that Tenet is loosely based on this one. Although now I realized it’s Neill Blomkamp – District 9, Elysium director – is making a movie out of this novel. Also, it has been a while since I read a good sci-fi! I have been delving into fiction and the magical world of Neil Gaiman mostly. Or writing them essays for the last two months or so.
The novel centers around Shannon Moss, who is an investigating agent for NCIS. The navy research wing has advanced engineering and few selected agents can travel through time. They do so only for the most complex of cases. Shannon is investigating a homicide, which turns out to be one of the links of the long chain of criminal activity. But the thread that ties the whole story is how each IFT (Inadmissible Future Trajectory) and present world of the year 1997 (called Terra Firma ) has been spun together to weave a complex and twisty timeline.

The book stands true to its review – “I promise you have never read a story like this.” and “True detective meets Inception”. Often at times though it felt a bit gruesome when murder scenes were being described. But once you get over those, the book is one you would be talking about and probably recommending it, vehemently, to your fellow book readers. Yes, I did already 😉

As with all-time travel movies or books, the moment it ends you want to reread it and see if every jigsaw falls into its place, so probably I would read it again soon. (Or just wait for M. to finish it and then we can discuss it).

In an interview, the author, Tom Sweterlitsch,  mentioned that

“Brandt and Lomonaco, the scientists in the gone world who are credited with the creation of the time travel engine. Dr. Brandt, in real life, is my father-in-law, a brilliant theoretical physicist who was a pioneer in quantum computing and quantum cryptography for the Department of Defense. His longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Lomonaco, is a mathematician specializing in Knot Theory.”

Also, the novel has a fair bit of horror elements. Tom did mention those. The genre is called Lovecraftian Horror.

when I started The Gone World. My first conception of the book was “NCIS plus Battlestar Galactica plus time travel.” The horror elements came a little later, though I think horror is a natural outgrowth of the things I was writing about.

For the interested, the actual links for time travel and quantum related terminology are in the references.

The book stands true to its review – “I promise you have never read a story like this.” and “True detective meets Inception”. Often at times though it felt a bit gruesome when murder scenes were being described. But once you get over those, the book is one you would be talking about and probably recommending it, vehemently, to your fellow book readers. Yes, I did already 😉

As with all-time travel movies or books, the moment it ends you want to reread it and see if every jigsaw falls into its place, so probably I would read it again soon. (Or just wait for M. to finish it and then we can discuss it).

But prepare to be awed by time-traveling agent and anti-heroes trying to save the earth from its future demise, characters strong-headed yet delusional, and elements of intense science fiction. I was blown away by the plot, and how simple yet efficiently the premise of time travel was explained. I would say this one is my favorite sci-fi novel now, (truth be told I haven’t read a lot – time machine, War of the worlds, 20000 leagues under the sea). Now that I googled, I gotta read 1984, Neuromancer, Fahrenheit 451, Asimov’s or The Martian (I was browsing at a bookstore at NUS, selling it for only $5 ) Pheww or I can just read the Nebula award winners.

References 

  1. Time Travel Terminologies
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_foam
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Brandt
  2. https://medium.com/adjacent-possible/q-a-with-tom-sweterlitsch-author-of-the-gone-world-69f8bd4f34e0
  3. NCIS
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Criminal_Investigative_Service
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovecraftian_horror

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