Recursion (@Blake Crouch) Review

I was trolling for something to listen to as I commute between Houston and San Marcos. I was done for the moment with non-fiction, having just finished the truly excellent Playing to Win by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin ( @aglafley and @rogerlmartin – seriously, if you’re a business person, read this book.)

Maybe more about Playing to Win later.

On to the main course!

Audible suggested Recursion in response to my Sci-fi query. Here’s what they say:

Reality is broken.

At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery – and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.

In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth – and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery…and the tools for fighting back.

Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy – before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos.

Sounded somewhat interesting. Maybe a little D.O.D.O.-esque. (In case you haven’t read Neil Stephenson’s novel, please check it out). 

I’ve always been a sucker for time travel stories, particularly recursive ones like DODO, Groundhog Day, or Replay (Ken Grimwood), so this seemed like a good fit.

It was. 

A couple of caveats: I’m a hard sci-fi guy by nature. I like my stories to have some sort of foundation in science “as we understand it now.” If Robert L. Forward, Arthur C. Clarke, or Isaac Asimov wrote it, I’ve read it.

Crouch limits his science to some hand-waving. Essentially “if you do this and this, then you can go back to a sufficiently clear memory and reset the world.” Cool idea. It was just the lack of “this and this” detail that set me back. Suspend disbelief and move on.

***Spoilers follow – be warned! ***

Where the book got very interesting was when the tech became available beyond one set of scientists in one lab. Put the tech on Wikileaks and see what happens.

Holy Guacamole, Batman.

What if anyone/everyone could rewrite the timeline? That’s what really grabbed me. Sequential views of attacks on America by terrorists followed by threats of mutually assured destruction if anyone messed with the timeline again.

Of course, they did.

As disgruntled as I may have been, Crouch kept me engaged and wanting more. He delivered. His finale was logical and consistent with the universe he had created.

Check it out. 

Science: 3/10

Story: 8/10

Overall: Worth the money and time. 4 Stars.

Then read my book and leave a review. Heck, just leave a review. Struggling authors live and die (in all timelines) by reviews. Amazon, Goodreads, bathroom walls – they all work.

Next up: Another deleted scene – the dog who ate Will’s lunch!

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