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If Philip K. Dick hadn't spent so much of his energy chasing that dark haired girl, working feverishly under the effect of amphetamines to put out enough novels to pay alimony, and laboring under the weight of a culture defined by cynicism and ennui, perhaps he could have produced something as polished as this.
After all, the book has alternative timelines, a U.S. President who interrupts all citizens' phone calls and television shows (and as an apology pays for dessert), and simulacra that are created at a dating site. But it is also carefully crafted, well-paced, and polished. There was one plot diversion that was not well enough explained, but all in all, this was a very enjoyable, intelligent novel. (I do need to point out that I hadn't heard the word "desultory" used since Simon & Garfunkel's first album, and it was used three times in the book - but ok.)
The narrator did a great job of shifting through the characters and their accents and distinguishing features. And I will definitely be getting Palmer's other novel.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
Due to Audible's generous return policy, I quite often will return an audiobook for various reasons, especially if I feel as if the book is just not going to hold up to repeat listenings, and of course the narration has everything to do with that assessment.
January LeVoy's absolutely perfect reading of Version Control makes the repeat listenings requirement a non-issue since she is amazing: versatile and believable as either sex; gifted at fading into the background, allowing the story to take over; and just an all-around great reader. I love her voice!
With that being said, however, even the greatest narrator needs something to work with, and boy is she provided with it here. This new novel is jaw-dropping in its depth and vision. Reviewers have compared Palmer to Franzen in his treatment of adult relationships, and that is an astute observation: the man has the insight of Franzen and the mind-bending genius of Kubrick. I am a huge fan of time travel literature (and time loops, time freezing, anything to do with time, really), so believe me when I say that Dexter Palmer delivers an astoundingly fresh take on a genre that has been bent in every direction already.
Not only is the author's data-immersive vision of the future plausible, but it seems quite probable; frighteningly, it's not a world that beckons so much as it invites contemplation of the many ways it already has come to pass: indeed this novel is no sloppily thrown together tale of time travel and paradox, and the reader will observe the many fine details that have been added to flesh out both characters and settings. Similarly, Version Control does not lose its perspective on where it began as do many novels in this genre, starting as one sort of story and ending up as another novel completely; rather, the plot bends back on itself, subtly tweaking the reader's memory of prior scenes while expertly playing off of the story's central conceit.
Palmer could have written a much simpler story, but instead he has crafted a complex narrative, interwoven with futuristic concepts, relevant social commentary, and fully developed characters. He mentions Octavia Butler at one point in the novel, and with all due respect to Kindred, Butler's own time travel novel, Dr. Palmer has written, here, a far superior take on the genre than she. Yes, it's just that good: Version Control is a modern classic, vast and piercing in scope and horrific in its near-future dystopian vision.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
I absolutely loved this novel. It's long, but I would have happily stayed in its world for twice the length. Towards the end I rationed myself as I didn't want it to end. It's complex and compelling, a biting commentary on our society as well as a fully realised plot that races along, keeping you fully engaged.
It's a time-travel novel, but time-travel as it might really happen if scientists were a few steps closer to seeing results today. There's lots of physics, but explained in such a compelling way, that for moments I felt like I actually understood some of it.
This novel has everything in it. It's a domestic drama, a story of bereavement handled sensitively and honestly. Palmer holds a mirror up to human society and reflects, for me anyway, a convincing, often hilarious portrait of how we behave, how we have been molded by the internet, big data, algorithms.
At its heart it is the story about relationships, how people try to navigate their paths towards contentment in a world which seems dead set on thwarting them. A feeling of unease, insecurity and maybe paranoia suffuses the pages of this book. It's an unsettling read, but an absolute masterpiece. I couldn't have imagined a better narrator than January Lavoy for this story. She was perfect.
Highly and strongly recommended.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
I love a good sci-fi, but feel I am seriously missing the point of this book! I was determined to stick with it as the reviews were so good, but after 5 hours in, yes 5 hours, when nothing had actually happened other than a few women walking around doing very boring mundane things, I finally gave in!
There was an interesting bit for about 10 minutes after the third hour, when they started talking about time travel, I thought here we go finally, but no, back to women talking about men again! Really???!!!
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
This was an interesting book, covering a broad array of themes and flicking between sci-fi and character driven fiction.
This isn't as pacy and adventure driven as a lot of 'time travel' novels tend to be, and it's better for it, in my opinion.
January LaVoy's performance is absolutely fantastic, really adding richness and personality to each character. I will be keeping an eye out for more of her work.