Version Control

Version Control by Dexter Palmer (Pantheon Books, 2016)

This new science fiction book looked intimidating at first (it’s almost 500 pages long) but once I got into it, it was hard to put down. It turned out to be one of the best science fiction novels I’ve read in a long time. The author, who lives in New Jersey, won an award for his first novel in 2010 and will probably be winning another for this one. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but it hangs on this question: whether traveling back in time branches you off onto a new version of the universe, or overwrites the present with a new version. Physicists feature prominently in this complex story, set only a few years in the future, which also examines the ethics of online dating sites, the dangers of self-driving cars, and where artificial intelligence could be leading us. There is a side plot about racism and sexism in the sciences. The ending was very satisfying, to me anyway. I highly recommend this book.

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