Time Ahead (Memoirs on Being)

As usual, I received this book for free in exchange for a review. This time it was from LibraryThing. Despite that kindness I will give my scrupulously honest opinions below.

This book is essentially a Rip Van Winkle tale. A rather unfocused and alcoholic man goes to sleep one night in his apartment and wakes up almost 200 years later. In that time… well, a lot has changed about the world and a lot hasn’t. The meat of the story is the protagonist’s exploration of this new world and his grappling with everything that he left behind.

On the positive side, this is a really engaging story. It’s not just about the march of technology into some doomed abyss or the degradation of humanity but also the inner workings of one man’s mind as he finds himself wrenched from the fragmented and dysfunctional world he knew and thrust into a totally new fragmented and dysfunctional world. There’s a potent psychological thread that runs through this tale and the reader simultaneously sympathizes with and despises the narrator.

To the negative, part of the reason the story is so engaging is that it’s very, very familiar. This is science fiction premise #1: “Technology ruins mankind.” So there’s no grand newness to any of that. More amusingly, the text is in need of some editing. Representative examples from the book include: “I found myself angry with myself” and “…the family watched a Christmas movie, and had desert.” While these are certainly not book killers they are distractions and point to the book’s general lack of polish.

In summary, there’s a lot of good potential here and if this series showed up at my doorstep for free I’d happily read it and review it but I’d fall a bit short of actually paying money for it. There’s a great story to be had here but it needs a bit of work before it’s ready for prime time.


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