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The Gone World Hardcover – February 6, 2018
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "The Second Home" by Christina Clancy
"A sure-footed ode to the strength of family, the depth of loss, and the power of forgiveness." - J. Ryan Stradal Learn more
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One of BookPage's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2018
“The Gone World has already created quite a stir. . . . The book probes questions about consciousness and crime that call to mind, among others, True Detective and 12 Monkeys.”—EW.com
"I like to be freaked out and mystified simultaneously. The Gone World, a gory time-travel thriller, does both in surprising ways....Inception meets True Detective, but it also contains elements of Solaris, Interstellar, Twin Peaks, Minority Report, and even Stargate. To all this, it adds some innovative time-travel shenanigans."--The New Yorker "Page-Turner"
“The Gone World will horrify and fascinate readers in equal measure. It is also a primer on cutting-edge theories about time travel and astrophysics...Prepare to be dazzled.”—Pittsburg Post-Gazette
“This is big-idea fiction that defies genre in the best possible way. Epic and mind-bending in scope, it carries the reader through on beautifully rendered, human moments.”—Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy
“Time travel is a classic science fiction plot element, but it’s rarely used so well as in Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World… Proof that superb world building isn’t only the domain of extensive series.”--The A.V. Club, "Best Books of 2018"
“In a word: Whoa! Edge-of-your-seat crime fiction that bends both time and mind.”—Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants
“The Gone World … is going to blow readers away. . . .[Sweterlitsch’s] ingenious apocalyptic thriller weaves a spell of rapture within each carefully composed page burnished with shimmering prose.” —Syfy Wire
"A complicated, dazzling novel that keeps the reader hooked until the last pages… In many ways, it feels like it blends the supernatural and cosmic elements from True Detective, and the alternate universe elements of Fringe.” —The Verge
“Another visionary blend of science fiction and mystery.”—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“As if [The Gone World did not have] a thrilling enough premise, Sweterlitsch stirs an intriguing end-of-the-world scenario into the mix... How the murder inquiry and the enigma of the terminal event are linked is just one of the many enjoyable aspects of this dark, page-turning SF thriller; another is the character of Moss... She is a resilient, vulnerable, and likable protagonist.” —The Guardian
“A fascinating blend that doesn’t skimp on the criminal investigation or the [sci fi]...Describing much more than [the] simple setup would rob the reader of the trippy experience of navigating the time-travel intricacies of this nail-biting speculative thriller.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Sweterlitsch has crafted a powerful and compelling protagonist in Shannon Moss. . . The Gone World displays the mesmerizing power of rich speculative fiction, which drives the investigation forward (and backward) in time. Transporting readers to increasingly hostile timelines, Sweterlitsch delivers visceral and unflinching action in this dynamic merger of murder mystery and futuristic vision.” —BookPage
“A mind-blowing fusion of science fiction, thriller, existential horror, and apocalyptic fiction...The power of this novel is two-fold: Sweterlitsch’s intricately plotted storyline will keep readers on the edges of their seats until the very last pages, and his extended use of bleak imagery coupled with his lyrical writing style make for an intense and unforgettable read.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Sweterlitsch offers a highly engaging—and deeply human—story informed by hard science and a refreshing sensitivity to trauma and disability. . .The Gone World is as unsettling as it is unforgettable.” —ShelfAwareness
"Billed as Inception meets True Detective, this scifi thriller follows a secret agent within the NCIS as she investigates a strange murder and a related missing-person case that ... could possibly bring about the end of life as we know it." —Io9
“An engrossing literary mashup of crime fiction and mind-blowing science fiction. . . There is endless invention in this novel. Sweterlitsch touches upon alternate realities, time travel, advanced technologies, and even Philip K. Dick-inspired notions of pre-crime warrants. . . This is marvelous stuff! . . . Highly recommended.”—The Missourian
“Sweterlitsch follows his futuristic, cyberpunk thriller Tomorrow and Tomorrow with a complex mystery involving time travel, alternate possibilities, murder, terrorism, and one woman’s determination to prevent the end of time. . . For hard-core science-fiction fans.” —Booklist
“Amazing. . . combines science fiction and thriller with classic crime noir, time travel, existentialism, philosophy, religion and end-of-the-world scenarios, all strung together in the style of the best literary fiction you will find out there today....Tom Sweterlitsch has created an all-time original story that is both genre-breaking and trendsetting.”—Bookreporter.com
“At once futuristic, nightmarish and hard-boiled. Once again Sweterlitsch takes readers to another world and back again. Take the trip.”—Stewart O'Nan
“Compelling...The multiple futures and the contemporary setting showcase world-building at its finest, while the characterizations are thought provoking and grittily realistic...A page-turner from beginning to end!”—RT Book Reviews
“[An] investigation into the gruesome murder of a Navy SEAL’s family takes some science fictional turns. . . Sweterlitsch juggles all of these balls masterfully. His Moss feels fully realized and the plot is propulsive.” —Locus Magazine
“Thought-provoking and entertaining in equal measure. The way the future is presented, as one possibility of many, is good, solid theory and the author describes it in remarkable clarity. . . The character of Moss shines through.” —SF Book Reviews
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I feel that this book was most enjoyable for the different sci-fi concepts it explores: time-travel to the future but with only one true "present," aging outside of normal time, flexible future timelines, and an impending doomsday that inexplicably keeps creeping closer to the present. Also for the "we dug too deep" plot trope, which I'm a fan of.
To be honest, I found these ideas to be more intriguing than the criminal caper that plays out in the foreground of the plot, which is interesting but flows a bit unevenly at many points. You know when you read about book and you wanna tell the protagonist "Why are you doing that when any reasonable person would do this??" Many of those moments.
Still, I feel that it came to an appropriate conclusion, and the final sorta-twist isn't so predictable although it's hinted at. Epilogue a bit maudlin.
Overall I'd recommend if any of the above concepts interest you
Anyway, I was a fan of the premise of this story after I read the sample. Some mysterious event like the shimmer in annihilation befalls humanity and swallows up the planet making people do inexplicable things in a scene that reads truly alien in nature. I have to give the author some commendation for these ideas about time travel and alien planets, they are spot-on realistic with how something like this could actually go down. If we ever discovered life on another planet, it would likely be so different from our own that it might even be incomprehensible.
Now there's... The crime plot. Shannon Moss' echo ends up being a compelling character who drives the bus throughout the whole book (literally and figuratively). In the multiple IFT's explored in the novel we follow her through different crime plots contrived by the same group of Libra sailors who keep mysteriously reappearing even though they should be presumed dead. Eventually, this leads her to a forsaken place in West Virginia where the main villain... shows her the path??? What? Up until this point in the story, it had been mostly smooth sailing for me if not a little bit procedural. After she finally gets captured by Hyldekrugger and dragged into the brig of the Libra and left there... I was honestly scratching my head about what the hell was going on. He apparently wanted to recruit Shannon to go back to Terra Firma and try to join their terrorism party as though that would make any sense, but to convince her she is shown... everything! He's like a hollywood movie supervillain that starts blathering about his entire plan to the good guy after their capture. And then after this he never really plays a role in the story again. That's it, he gets seen briefly on the path back to the Libra but she shrugs him off. In my opinion this is such a huge waste of a character! We are introduced to him fairly late in the story as the main man pulling the strings, the man also known as "The devil." Well he's awfully nice to Shannon because he cleans her up a little and takes her on a journey that ultimately gives her the tools she needs to solve the entire "Terminus" thing and bring this all home to its conclusion and is basically never heard from again. After the journey the reader is introduced to the moral conundrum proposed by Hyldekrugger who attempts to convince Shannon that they're in fact trying to stave off the terminus by preventing the NSC from ever finding the planet and bringing it back home. This rather twisted idea actually ends up being the truth to what happens, but then what's the point of all the occult nonsense with the fingernails tattoos chemical weapons and mythology? Waging an insurgent war against a government that's going to literally end the human race doesn't really need all the creepy stuff that makes Hyldekrugger so unappealing of a character it's no wonder Shannon doesn't take him seriously. I wouldn't side with the guy who murders people and takes their fingernails inside of his ship as prizes, and a career law enforcement officer certainly wouldn't either. We are led to believe this man is some sort of freakish terrorist who has gone completely off his rocker because of his experiences aboard the libra, and is made to be this super intelligent guy based on how his various schemes have worked in the past. He sure makes a lot of dumb decisions, and is one of the worst villains I've read about in a book in a good while.
After the magical vardogger journey I almost put the book down but I was too invested so I slogged through until the really awful ending where basically nothing happens. She makes it back on the libra. She finds the woman she needs right away because Nicole the perpetual plot propellor is able to give her a hand yet again. Shannon becomes a hollywood action hero and manages to find remarque and save the day even though she had been shot 3 times in places that would make a normal person completely incapable of movement. Despite these serious-seeming impediments nothing poses a serious threat in Shannon's quest to achieve her goal. Mursult, who is guarding the engine room is able to be flipped sides with two sentences of dialogue that talk about his kids. This paves the way for a final confrontation that is truly boring. Our main villain Hyldekrugger makes an appearance but it is unfortunately too late, everyone gets sucked into a black hole and that's the end. YAY!!!!
The first half or so of the book is actually a pretty interesting and compelling story that is completely ruined by a rushed and nonsensical climax and conclusion. It's just like annihilation the movie; an ending that makes no sense whatsoever and just leaves you feeling more confused than satisfied. Better luck next time.
I wanted to like this a lot more, but I just can't abide a book that feels rushed at the end. This seems to be happening more these days. The reader deserves a much better, more natural, and well-thought-out payoff than Swterlitsch provides. The pace at the end convolutes what could have been a clearer resolution, and the epilogue is nonsensically tossed in, though I know what Sweterlitsch was trying to convey.
All in all, be prepared for a disappointing payoff to a promising journey.
Top international reviews
Mit der Protagonistin und Ich-Erzählerin Shannon Moss hat Sweterlitsch zudem eine interessante gebrochene Figur geschaffen, die der fremden Welt, in der sie agiert, einen Großteil ihrer "Menschlichkeit" verleiht. Das ist auch literarisch kein einfacher Stunt. Der Autor setzt sich damit in ästhetischer Hinsicht weit vor die Mitbewerber im SF-Umfeld. Und das mit einem Roman, der so spannend ist, dass man ihn nicht beiseite legen mag!
Only problem I had was with the pacing. The pacing was sometimes too fast or too slow. rarely hit the perfect pace for me. Maybe was trying to build a world for sequels?
But still a good read! recommended