To­tal Re­call

SFX - - Re­views - Jonathan Wright

re­leased OUT NOW! 106 pages | ebook Au­thor Peter F Hamil­ton Pub­lisher Pan Macmil­lan If there’s an equiv­a­lent to

the locked-room mystery within SF, it’s surely the time-para­dox story. Read­ers so clearly un­der­stand what’s go­ing on – the risks of killing your own fa­ther in the past and so on – that only a new and novel take on the sub­genre is go­ing to hold the at­ten­tion, which is where the chal­lenge lies.

En­ter Peter F Hamil­ton, whose time-para­dox, crimethriller novella shows us the world from the per­spec­tive of a teenager, Ju­lian, who has an ei­de­tic mem­ory. That’s un­usual enough in it­self, but when Ju­lian begins to re­call a Lon­don fi­nance worker’s life in per­fect de­tail too, things start get­ting re­ally weird.

The story is set in con­tem­po­rary Lon­don and much of it riffs off Ju­lian’s prob­lems nav­i­gat­ing the world. It’s one thing to re­mem­ber what you see, it’s quite another to un­der­stand it – and in a sense this is a kind of fan­tas­ti­cal take on The Cu­ri­ous In­ci­dent Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

Whether Hamil­ton has Mark Had­don’s abil­ity to make the mun­dane seem mag­i­cal is open to ques­tion, but his so­lu­tion to the po­ten­tial tem­po­ral in­con­sis­ten­cies of time travel is tidy, if a tad tricksy. Slight but qui­etly sat­is­fy­ing. 1881 story “The Clock That Went Back­ward” is re­puted to be the first tem­po­ral para­dox used in fic­tion.

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