This was a long run for me. I got into this novel very quickly, but than I made a pause which tuned out to be... Well, a bit longer than I planned (started last Sept, finished today - yeah, just a bit longer).
It is a slow reading and if you expect this book to be filled with action like time travel novels tend to be, know that it is not. It is, however, full of characters' pains, aspirations, failures and remorses. And there are many sophisticated dialogues and monologues, so brace yourself, it is not an easy entertaining reading. It makes you think a lot and lingers in your mind long after you turn the final page.
I would like to call this book amazing, but it is not. Nor it is fabulous, awesome, fantastic. I feel like all those words would be diminishing for Version Control. It is astonishing. It is graceful. And huge.
God, it is huge, and I'm not talking about size here. The scope of themes it covers is very impressive, because these is not a novel about time travel. It is so vast, that I don't even know where to start. Do I say that this is a novel about what it takes to be a scientist?
Here we have Philip Steiner, a brilliant physicist working on a project of his life. And this project is swallowing him whole and doesn't promise to be successful. He is stuck on the edge of groundbreaking something, only he cannot prove that his grand design, his casual violation device (not time-machine! I repeat, do not call it time-machine!) really works. That makes all sort of tip-toeing and dancing to receive funds for his project even more difficult for Philip.
Now meet Alicia, another brilliant physicist and a member of Philip's team, who is constantly reminded that she is, after all, a woman scientist. Not that it bothers her, but still.
Carson, yet another physicist, has problems with his race. He is not sure how others see him, not even his girlfriend, but he is sure that if he would try to obtain a lab of his own, his race will be an obstacle.
So, do I say that this is a novel about what it takes to be a scientist? Yes. But it is so much more than this. What I wrote above covers less than half of this book. There's also Philip and his wife Rebecca marriage, that is in steady decline because for so many reasons. There's Rebecca, so lovely and lonely. There's Kate, so confused and confusing. We have all ugliness of online dating services shown to us. We see the way internet interferes with reality and shapes it. All this in one book, and it doesn't feel overloaded. Not one bit.
And the last but not the least - how do you know that the time-machine works if you have no memory of the previous timeline? What is your name? Are you sure? Has it always been?
It's huge, huge, huge, and so-so graceful!
Thank you, Dexter Palmer, I am now more than encouraged to get to The Dream of Perpetual Motion.