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Most original new SF book since "The Time Traveller's Wife"
on 23 October 2010
This is one of the most original new science fiction books I have ever read. In fact, as an inspired new take on a familiar SF idea it's original enough to stand comparison with "The Time Traveler's Wife" or "Memoirs of an Invisible Man."
Graham Smith is a thirtysomething loner who works as an office messenger in a government department in London. Most of his colleagues think he's deaf, retarded, or both: he hardly ever speaks and appears to have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. What they don't know is that this is how he deals with a universe which keeps changing around him. One month someone he knows will suddenly disappear and it will be as if they died years ago or were never even born. Six months later they might suddenly reappear, but could be in a different job, or be married to someone different to the spouse they had before - and it will seem to everyone except Graham that it's always been that way.
Buildings, colleagues, close relatives - all may be there one day and changed or gone the next. Graham thinks this means that any aspect of the universe might "unravel" at any moment. He has learnt at an early age that the best way to cope is to say as little as possible, keep to as regular a routine as he can, and carry notes which tell him where he lives and works so that he can find his way home or to the office in the altered universe should these details change around him.
Annalise Mercado has heard voices in her head since she was a small child. All the voices are of girls who call themselves Annalise: eventually she realises that she is in telepathic contact with two hundred versions of herself - all living in very slightly different worlds.
Then Annalise hears about a man called Graham Smith who exists in all these worlds and appears to be in great danger.
Graham and all the different versions of Annalise soon find that there is a great threat to all their worlds, and that they are at the centre of it - along with a mysterious and powerful company caller Paradim and something called the Resonance Wave ...
A bit like a cross between a more grown-up version of "Worlds of the Imperium" and a better written version of "Alternities" but in future, if it is as big a hit as it deserves, this book may well become the standard by which SF stories about multiple worlds are judged.