There is no shortage of Time Travel stories in recent times; many TV networks have at least one science fiction show that involves time travel. So, believe me when I tell you that this book breathes new life into the Time Travel genre. Rebecca is married to brilliant, albeit weird and sciencalholic physicists Phillip who has been working on a Causality Violation Device (don’t you dare call it a goddamn Time Machine) and a mysterious organisation has been funding his research, trying to make Causality Violation a possibility. As the a story progresses we see that Rebecca and Phillip had lost their child in a car crash that had happened a while back, and Phillip, at least in the back of his mind, blames Rebecca and her drinking for it. Rebecca blames her self as well, but won’t admit it. Phillip has also been been engaging in an extramarital affair with his colleague, Alicia.
Time Travel theory is a largely pseudo-physics field that very few dabble in, though, in theory of course, Einstein’s GTR allows it. This book uses one of the many time travel theories as a basis.
The experiment to test Causality Violation uses a small robot with a clock that is synced to the atomic clock in Boulder; this robot is then sent into the device and is then retrieved. In Theory, the robots clock should show that an hour had passes, while for them, outside the chamber of the CVD, it would’ve been just a few seconds.
So theory states that the robot did travel in time, but it entered a different universe it was sent an hour later, rather that the time it was actually sent, and hence all the event were changed to fit that. This is a heavily scientific theory, and I would love to get into the he details of it, but I’ll save you the trouble.
So, when Rebecca finds out about her husband’s infidelity, she is extremely pissed and she enters the CVD just to spite her husband and her work and the woman he’s been sleeping with; When she does that, she wakes up and everything is different, though she doesn’t know it, because her memory has been fixed to fit the new reality; the new reality is where her husband went to pick their Son up, and he had died in the car crash and not their son. There is another CVD-reality presented towards the end as well, where Rebecca died and not the Son.
Most of the book is devoid of much science fiction, other than the technological developments of that universe.
The characters are really well developed towards the end, and the transition from one reality to the other is quite subtle; if you haven’t read the blurb or know what to expect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Though, I will admit, it was a tiny bit of a task getting past the first hundred pages; it was quite slow, but then it picked up and it got really interesting.
I really like books that take physical concepts and build fiction upon it, but don’t overdo the scientific aspect by giving some rubbish explanation. This book took one single time travel theory, and took such a subtle approach to it, without shouting it at your face. It is only mentioned towards the end of the second section.
Version Control by Dexter Palmer is a brilliant book for the science fiction lovers, and time travel aficionados who really want a book that takes an interested approach towards time travel. I really liked this book. Definitely one of my favourite books of this year.
My feelings towards this book would compare to what I felt last year for Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things. (Which is also a brilliant book, go read it!)