“Last Year” by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, 2016)

“Two events made the first of September a memorable day for Jesse Cullum. First, he lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Second, he saved the life of President Ulysses S. Grant.” The opening lines to bestselling author Robert Charles Wilson’s latest book, Last Year, do what many of his past books have done: they make you stop and think and consider this what if: why are expensive modern day sunglasses being used in the same context as a president from the late nineteenth century?

It is the not too distant future where humanity has sort of discovered time travel, except it’s limited time travel, using special giant mirrors that can take people and things back to a certain point in the past, but not too distant past. The mirror is only “open” for a limited time to reduce the risk of the past learning and gaining too much from the future. It’s a great draw for tourism, the “opportunity of a lifetime.” And for those living in the past, they get to see what the future looks like.

Jesse Cullum is a man of the nineteenth century working in the specially constructed city for the people of the future. In a bold move that he does more out of reflex, he takes down a man looking to assassinate the president, and finds his world changed. He is promoted and becomes a member of a special investigative team looking to protect the president and other important people, as well as get to the bottom of a smuggling ring that is bringing important items from the future back to the past and selling them on the black market, including guns like the one the man was using to assassinate the president.

Much as Robert J. Sawyer’s Red Planet Blues was a noir detective novel set on Mars, Last Year is a gripping time travel novel with a noir detective story at its heart. Time travel stories have been done in many shapes and forms, which is why Wilson’s book offers a new angle on the whole time travel idea with something a little different, along with real and interesting people and a controversial central plot.

Originally written on March 15, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Last Year from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Affinities” by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, 2015)

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What if Facebook was more than just a social media platform, but a way of life and living that you used to pick your friends, make any and all important decisions in your life, and in many ways become your real family? Wilson takes a department from his more classic science fiction and is more subtle with the genre in The Affinities as he takes the idea of social media to a whole new level.

Adam Fisk doesn’t really know where his life is going and his family isn’t really supporting him or seeming to care that much. So he takes the affinity test and finds himself categorized into the Tau affinity. A whole new world opens up to him, with a community of people similar to him, new friends and partners are made, as well as new career opportunities. But soon the Affinities test and what it means becomes much more as it takes over the world, and Fisk finds himself in the middle of it as things start to turn ugly as the affinities begin to compete against each other, vying for power and control in various areas such as resources and government.

Originally written on May 12, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Affinities from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“Burning Paradise” by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, 2013)

Burning Paradise

From the Hugo award winner of Spin and author of Julian Comstock comes his thrilling new novel, Burning Paradise. The year is 2015 and Cassie Klyne lives in a United States that is not ours, in a time different from our own. The world has been at peace since the Great Armistice of 1918, there was no World War II or Great Depression, and it seems like Earth is a pretty decent place.

But Cassie is the daughter of parents who were part of a special group that has been studying the facts and asking questions for decades and now knows the truth: that an alien entity has encompassed the earth in the form of a parasitic layer and is able to control and manipulate radio communication. In this way it has controlled events in the world since the dawn of radio communication. And then it launched an attack against this special group, targeting many of the people – like Cassie’s parents – and killing them with its special creations that appear to be human, but are stronger and bleed a smelly green goo.

Now Cassie is on the run once again from these alien beings, looking to find out what they really are, but also to see what can be done to stop this alien entity that now controls the planet. Joining with other members of the group, the mission will take them deep into South America with a special device intended to stop the alien intruder and free humanity once again.

Wilson has created a compelling alternate world with details and characters that make it feel like our own.  Blending some interesting science with some great storytelling, Burning Paradise is a great example of good science fiction.

Originally written on November 29, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Burning Paradise from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Spin  Bride of Years  Mysterium  Chronoliths

Bookbanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Science Fiction Series: THE SPIN SERIES by Robert Charles Wilson

Good science fiction can sometimes be a hard thing to find.

You need to find a good story, something that will suck you in from the very first page and keep you going to the very end of the book, leaving you hoping for sequels.

You need a good writing style that keeps you engaged, with a fresh vocabulary.  Classic science fiction has come to be known for its lacking in fully-developed characters, so for good science fiction you’re going to want some well-rounded characters.

Good science fiction is a regular book that deserves to be shelved next to any other award-winning, bestselling work of regular fiction, and yet it involves elements, storylines and plot involving elements of the future and science.

Look no further than Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin trilogy.


“A Bridge of Years” by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, 2011)

Bridge of Years

Bestselling author Robert Charles Wilson’s book, A Bridge of Years, recently re-released in paperback, has an interesting play on the idea of time travel, but remains true to its “rule” that there are always repercussions when one plays around with time travel, even when someone thinks they’ve been given a second chance.

Tom Winter has made a right old mess of things, now without a job and a wife who’s left him; he’s hit rock bottom.  With some leftover inheritance money he buys a simple little house in the secluded Pacific Northwest, looking to just get away from things for a while, and try to figure his life out.  The only problem is the simple house he bought turns out to be a prime example of real estate where everything isn’t as it seems or should be.  It begins minutely with his unclean plate with a few leftovers that he leaves by the sink overnight; in the morning it has been licked clean by something.

At first he thinks it’s nothing, but it keeps on happening and he tries to film it but the camera mysteriously shuts off during the filming.  Then there’s the weird sounds he keeps hearing, like little machines zooming around his house; a flickers of minute movement out of the corner of his eye.  Then in the basement he discovers an extra room that leads to a tunnel that takes him back to another time and another place: 1963, New York City.

Wilson has fun playing around with time travel in this short novel, building the mystery and setting up a far more complex story than readers will be expecting.  As to the answer of what is eating the leftover food and why, it is both gruesome and shocking, but at the same time makes perfect sense.

Originally written on April 9, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of A Bridge of Years from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

BookBanter’s Top Ten New Releases for Tuesday, December 6

BookBanter Top Ten

And here are the BookBanter Top Ten New Releases for Tuesday, December 6th with some interesting horror, science fiction and fantasy. Check them out!


Thirteen Hallows



The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman

One might consider the term of “hallows” to be dangerous in a book title after the last of the Harry Potter series, but bestselling author Michael Scott isn’t fazed by that. In a new adult novel the question remains whether these hallows things of good or things or evil? This will affect how the Keepers of the Hallows are viewed, and how dangerous this two-thousand-year-old secret might be.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Earthbound by Joe Haldeman

After the success of Marsbound and Starbound, Joe Haldeman is back with Earthbound, after the Others have stopped humans from traveling to the stars, Carmen Dula works on coming up with a way to do this using nineteenth-century technology and methods.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


March in Country



March in Country by E. E. Knight

From bestselling author E. E. Knight comes the next novel of the Vampire Earth, now available in paperback, as it has all come down to the area between Tennessee and the Ohio River. While what’s left of the resistance is hiding out in the Kentucky hills, the Kurian vampires are all set to move in. Major David Valentine knows it’s going to take some great planning and crazy ideas to have any hope of fighting back.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer

In a new edition of the hard to get book, Robert J. Sawyer has created a captivating science fiction book that makes the reader ask a lot of important questions. Jake Sullivan has copied his consciousness into an android body, only he finds himself involved in a whole series in new problems as this new “being,” as well as issues with his old “body” causing trouble.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Bridge of Years



The Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson

Tom Winter heads off to a secluded cottage in the Pacific Northwest, where he can find peace and deal with the loss and pain in his life. There he finds a doorway to another time — 1963 — only he soon finds that this may be more a hindrance than a sort of miracle in his life.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Space Merchants



The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth

The Space Merchants is back in a new and revised edition for the twenty-first century. In this doomed future, the world is severely overpopulated, and multi-national corporations now control the world and are essentially the government. Basic, natural resources are in short supply while advertising agencies tell everyone what they should buy. Mitch Courtenay is challenged to come up with an ad campaign to advertise and get people interested in colonizing Venus.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Himmler's War



Himmler’s War by Robert Conroy

Robert Conroy challenges readers to an interesting, thought-provoking alternate history in Himmler’s War, where Hitler is killed shortly after the attack at Normandy, putting Himmler in charge. The allies are undecided whether to seek negotiations with the new government or keep things the same.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Mecha Corps



Mecha Corps by Brett Patton

In the depressing and disliked planet of Earth, soldiers are in training for riding and controlling their Mechas. This biomechanicals have a devastating firepower, but they will be necessary to fight back against the pirates of the Corsair Confederacy. What they don’t know is each time they jack in to their mechas, their minds are slowly being changed, the question is to what purpose.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.





Eden by Tony Monchinski

For anyone looking for a new zombie novel to try out, you might want to pick up a copy of Eden. The Eden of the title is a walled-in fortress in Queens where a former Principal Harris is helping survivors deal with a devastating zombie outbreak in New York City.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


Future Lovecraft



Future Lovecraft edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

H. P. Lovecraft is definitely an example of what’s hip and popular right now in the horror world, and in this latest collection of Lovecraft-inspired stories, the key is that they all take place in the future, whether that’s a decade, century or millennia. The anthology features stories from Nick Mamatas, Don Webb, Paul Jessop, Catherine Tobler and A. C. Wise.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

For last week’s BookBanter Top Ten New Releases, click here.

A Man of Many Worlds: An Interview with Robert Chrarles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson

Rober Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson is the award-winning author of Spin. Some of his other books include the two sequels to Spin: Axis and Vortex, as well as Mysterium, The Chronoliths, and Julian Comstock. In the interview, Wilson talks about how he got into writing, where the idea for Spin came from, what he’s working on now, what he hopes people get out of reading his books, and what he likes to do in his spare time. Read the interview . . .

An Interview with Robert Charles Wilson (October, 2011)

Robert Charles Wilson

Rober Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson is the award-winning author of Spin. Some of his other books include the two sequels to Spin: Axis and Vortex, as well as Mysterium, The Chronoliths, and Julian Comstock. In the interview, Wilson talks about how he got into writing, where the idea for Spin came from, what he’s working on now, what he hopes people get out of reading his books, and what he likes to do in his spare time.

Click on any of the covers to read a review of the book:


Julian Comstock Mysterium Chronoliths Spin Axis Vortex

Alex C. Telander: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Robert Charles Wilson: I’ve been writing — writing science fiction, no less — since I learned to read.  I don’t have an explanation for this, but it’s probably a diagnostic indicator for some kind of personality disorder.

Alex: Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

Robert: The stories I wrote in grade one survived for years in my mom’s attic.  They were self-illustrated and usually involved astronauts landing on an distant planet, where they were attacked by monsters.  One of them was called “In the Seas of Neptune.”  Apparently, my understanding of the nature of the solar system needed some fine tuning.

Alex: How about the first thing you got published?

Robert: I sold my first story to Analog when I was nineteen years old.  (Perhaps not coincidentally, it also involved a distant planet and a monster.)  I didn’t sell another one for ten years.  That was my real apprenticeship as a writer — the time you spend learning your craft by failing at it.

Alex: What were the steps that led to you getting your first book published?

Robert: I had sold a short story to Shawna McCarthy when she was editing Asimov’s Science Fiction. She moved to Bantam as a book editor and wrote to ask whether I had anything at novel length.  “Yes,” I said — one of those lies for which young writers can perhaps be forgiven.  The end result was A Hidden Place, my first novel.

Alex: Where did the idea for Spin come from?

Robert: For me, ideas seldom pop into existence fully formed; they accrete, like barnacles. So that’s a hard one to answer.  But I guess I can say it emerged from some thoughts about the Fermi paradox, and some further thoughts about the age of the universe and what a small slice of geological and astronomical time we experience in a single human lifetime.  I wanted to confront my characters with deep time, deep change — the aging and death of the sun, for instance.

Alex: Did you always plan for it to be a trilogy?

Robert: Spin is a stand-alone novel and can be read as such. I think of it as a book with two sequels.

Alex: Now with Vortex finished and published, do you feel your original idea with Spin has changed at all, or did you arrive at the final destination you planned on?

Robert: Any work of fiction, long or short, evolves as you write it. The trilogy wasn’t an exception.  I guess you can say it arrived at the conclusion I expected, to a first approximation.  But it surprised me often along the way.

Alex: Your books always feature strong, well developed characters, which can be rare in science fiction.  Is this an intentional thing on your part?

Robert: I don’t see characterization as some separable or dispensable aspect of fiction. It’s one of the mainsprings.  You can’t simply imagine a new world, you have to populate it, you have to inhabit it.  That’s what characterization does: it particularizes the abstraction and renders it as human experience.

Alex: Do you ever plan to write more in the world you created in Julian Comstock?

Robert: That book was great fun to write, so I’m occasionally tempted to revisit it. But no, I have no real plans to do so.

Alex: Science and evolution feature in a number of your books.  Why is this?

Robert: To me, evolution and the scientific vision of the world are perennially fascinating ideas. They take the long view.  They tell us that what seems fixed and stable has changed over time.  “All things flow,” as Heraclitus said.  That’s the thematic heart and soul of science fiction, as far as I’m concerned.

Alex: What do you hope readers get from reading your books?

Robert: Entertainment. Maybe a shiver up the spine now and then.  An unexpected thought.

Alex: Can you talk about what you’re working on now, and what your next book is?

Robert: I’ve contracted to write three stand-alone novels: Burning Paradise, The Affinities, and The Last Year..  Of these, Burning Paradise is three-quarters finished and I should be able to hand it in early in 2012. It takes place in an alternate history in which the twentieth century has been uniquely peaceful and prosperous — for a rather troubling reason.

Alex: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Robert: I still read and re-read the classic sf authors. Contemporary ones, too, though I know the field less well than I used to, simply because I read for research and because my taste in reading precludes a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy.

Alex: What are you reading right now?

Robert: The police procedurals of Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo. I have Neal Stephenson’s Reamde on the shelf, and I’m looking forward to that.  Recently enjoyed Steven Millhauser’s We Others — he’s a truly amazing talent — and Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear.

Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Robert: Nothing extraordinary. Listen to music.  Hang out with my wife Sharry.  Some days I’ll head into downtown Toronto and poke around in the kind of shops — increasingly rare these days, alas — that sell second-hand books and vinyl records.

Alex: Is there a particular world in your books that you would like to live in?

Robert: God, no!  There are characters I wouldn’t mind meeting, but the worlds they live in are generally way too threatening for my taste.

“Vortex” by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, 2011)


Robert Charles Wilson returns with the thrilling conclusion to his trilogy that began with Spin and Axis, in Vortex.  Like the previous sequel, this one begins with something completely new and different from the other novels, immediately hooking in the reader, though this time Wilson provides a familiar face, Turk Findley, to guide the reader along.

Through the power of the enigmatic beings known as the Hypotheticals, Turk has been transported ten thousand years into the future, along with the unique character of Isaac Dvali, who was created as a conduit to the Hypotheticals.  They find themselves joining with a population known as the Vox, who travel on a massive island that is the size of a continent.  The Vox have been traveling for centuries through the arches to different worlds.  They know that the world known as Earth, which is now in ruin and degradation, but it is the place where they hope to finally face and commune with the Hypotheticals.

The strange twist to this is that this story of Findley, Isaac and the Vox is being told through the journal writings of a troubled man known as Orin Mather, ten thousand years in the past (set in the world and time of Spin), who is being helped by a psychiatrist, Sandra Cole, as well as a cop, Bose.  They’re all trying to deal with this story set in the distant future and decide whether it’s true or a work of fantastic fiction.

Readers of the trilogy may not get all the resolution they expect, especially not if they’re wondering what happened to certain characters in Spin, or why things are happening the way they are and at this time, i.e. why the Hypotheticals are doing this?  However, readers will be completely hooked by the great storytelling and full and developed characters that are all trying to understand the big why of it all, just like the reader.  And it is really only at the very end of Vortex that readers get the full answers they’ve been patiently waiting for since the stars blacked out and disappeared long ago in Spin.

Originally written on September 21, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

You might also like . . .

Spin    Axis    Chronoliths

“Axis” by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor, 2007)


Robert Charles Wilson’s sequel to the Hugo Award winning Spin, Axis, does what not a lot of sequels do: it continues readers on this most unique story, but with a whole new world and cast of characters that helps to give everything a new pristine look, as if one were reading a individual, stand-alone novel, and not a sequel.

The god-like beings known as the Hypotheticals are doing what they do best: messing with the ways of the cosmos.  In Axis, the reader travels through the giant arch gate located in the Indian Ocean and into the new and different world known as Equatoria, which was apparently created for humanity by these Hypotheticals.  Lise Adams travels to Equatoria in search of her missing father.  She hires Turk Findley, who has a less than clean rap sheet, to fly her to her father’s last known destination.  Lise’s father was obsessed with the Hypotheticals, so now she hopes to not only find out what happened to him, but perhaps get some answers to these mysterious beings.

Then there is Isaac, a genetically engineered child who is to serve as a conduit between humanity and the Hypotheticals, and now he is coming of age and his true fruition will come to pass.  Lise and Turk meet up with Isaac and they continue their journey deeper into Equatoria in search of answers.  And it seems as if the Hypotheticals are making things happen, as underground something mighty is awoken and the earth begins to tremble.

While it’s not required that one read Spin before you tackle Axis, it certainly helps to provide a foundation for the reader, nevertheless Wilson does a good job of answering the questions and covering a little of what happened in the previous book; one of the characters even shows up as a surprise.  Axis also does what Spin did very well: provide a good story with some great characters.  Readers will be hooked with the captivating duo in Lise and Turk, as their unusual pasts are explored while the book progresses; and then there is the unique Isaac.  Readers will be not be able to put down this worthy sequel leading up to an important climax that gets resolved in the final book of the trilogy, Vortex.

Originally written on September 21, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

You might also like . . .

Spin    Mysterium    Chronoliths