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WesternSFA


The Future is Yours
by Dan Frey
Del Rey, $27.00, 335pp
Published 2021

This book tries to impart a feeling, a sense of our society in the 2020’s, by making use of email and texting.  The story is told through episodic texts, emails, e-blogs, and news stories.  It isn’t an original gimmick but it does work.

A couple of genius college grads have an idea that they are sure they can prove if they can just get enough funding.  The idea is “trans-temporal data transfer” and it will change everything if it works.  Ben and Adhi are best friends and Ben is married to Adhi’s other best friend, Leila.  Together, they manage to convince an ultra-rich investor to believe in them. What follows is a flash-back explanation of how the boys built their time machine while Ben is testifying to a Senate investigation.  The reader is teased with the implication that something might have happened to spur the investigation, without it being addressed directly.  The senators’ questions challenge Ben’s ethics and integrity concerning both the development of the machine and the intended use for it:  to give it to the public.  The senators were right to question the use to which the machine would be put; but they were wrong in what they saw as the danger.

Ben is increasingly frustrated at design delays and refuses to acknowledge a growing concern of Adhi’s that the technology is flawed and possibly dangerous.  Ben is prepared to jettison just about everything that’s really important to bring The Future, as the device was named, to the eagerly waiting public.  It’s a dream-come-true for everyone: a glimpse into the future one year hence.  It will mean billions of dollars to the three partners but only if it works.  Adhi’s fear that even if The Future does prove accurate, it might have unforeseen repercussions.  And that’s a fine bit of irony in the story – they own a time machine that sees a year into the future but can’t even reassure themselves of the outcome.  And all of their success is predicated upon one truth: the future can’t be changed.  What Adhi fears and what Ben has to convince the Senate investigation of, is that The Future can accurately tell the future and nothing they do with that knowledge will change anything.  It’s a wobbly line to walk and one that would keep a bunch of college students up all night arguing.  It was a tough sell to this reader but intriguing enough to keep me reading.

But the author slipped me a mickey.  He switched the focus of the story and I felt a little blind-sided at the end.  I’m not saying it was a bad ending or even inappropriate.  Looking back, I can see he tried to plant some suggestions but it was too little.  I wanted a big reveal and got a seemingly clever feint and misdirection.  Seemingly…because it wasn’t what we were promised through more than half the book.  It actually opened up a new idea which didn’t have time to evolve since it was used as the climax.  It wasn’t clever, it was lazy.   ~~  Catherine Book

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