|my library copy, with suitable fabric bookmark!|
Toronto: ECW Press, c2017.
This is the first in a string of speculative fiction I've picked up unintentionally from the library -- there were a bunch of shiny new books on the shelf so I thought I'd try some. And they were all weird and good and busted me out of a reading rut.
This novel is the story of Debbie Reynolds Biondi, a comic book author of the cult hit Sputnik Girl. It's the story of a badass heroine with no past -- but the secret is that Debbie has based her comics on her life growing up in an alternate universe, under Atomic Mean Time. She lives in Shipman's Corners, Canusa -- a corporate part of what is our Niagara region in our time.
Debbie encounters time travellers and conspirators, all trying to either guide or keep her from collapsing Atomic Mean Time to save the world from nuclear disaster. When her AMT world collapses, everyone in it will blend with their other self in our own accustomed world; everyone except Debbie, who doesn't exist in our world, which is why she is the only one able to Save The World.
Or so she says.
Debbie is middle-aged, alone, addicted to lorazepam and martinis, fixated on her past story. But is she a reliable narrator? That's up to the reader to decide. As for myself, Favro's Cold War inspired AMT world is so convincing that I believed in this alternate reality thesis. The blend of science, true love, prejudice, a childhood in the shadow of nuclear war, and family dynamics is, well, dynamic. It's fast paced & fascinating, innocent & terrifying, funny and really sad, all rolled up in one -- or maybe two -- worlds.
The storyline doesn't have any logical errors, and I appreciated the detail in the setting and the time travel/science elements; it makes the reading very sensory and realistic. The characters, especially Debbie's family, were well drawn and convincing. All together, this was a puzzling and very entertaining read. It brings up questions of veracity, power, safety, war, authority, all alongside an accessible and enjoyable literary/speculative narrative. I had fun reading this, which is enough for me.