After reading several history and general fiction books (mostly due to commitments to read ARCs), I was desperate to get back to the escapism and entertainment that is fantasy and science fiction. Here, There & Everywhere by Chris Roberson was the fix I needed, blending in just enough science, history and character with a plot that somehow ties together in the end.
Chris Roberson is a fellow Texas author whom I have not yet met. I will soon seek him out and buy him a Shiner and a Tequila to discuss this and his other novels. I am always impressed when a writer pens something that is so obviously outside of their experience, and for Mr. Roberson to write from the perspective of Roxanne Bonaventure as a young girl, teen, moving through the other stages of womanhood, takes excellent powers of observation (who help from an understanding wife; I look forward to asking Chris which of these it was or both?).
Roxanne is given, at a young age, a bracelet known as “the Sofia”, which somehow contains the keys to the multiverse; it gives Roxanne the ability to not only pick which of the infinite possible paths in time and space she wants to visit, but it will also choose for her paths that will keep her safe, thus making her invincible.
If this gift were given to me, I believe I would have fallen prey to megomaniacal tendencies and attempted to rule the world. But Roxanne, guided by her professor father (conveniently a professor of physics, which allows the author to explain the essence of multiverse theory in the course of the story), chooses to explore the multiverse backwards and forwards. She visits childhood heroes, goes back and invest money to set herself up so she can explore instead of work, even finds herself in one multiverse. She looks in on paths that would have no humans, paths that would have less war, and runs into other time travelers from the future.
The best written chapter IMHO is when Roxanne’s father is dying from cancer. She repeatedly goes into the future, looking for better experimental medicines to extend his life, watching him wither and die time after time, emotionally attached but somehow detached. Her father recognizes what she is doing:
“You’ve forgotten the first rule, that you can’t let these abilities of yours prevent you from being human. Living life moment to moment is what defines humans. Animals live only in ‘now’, and only man can remember his past and look forward to his future. If a human lives without any uncertainty about what tomorrow brings, then she’s no longer human, but a machine.”
Many hours of Zen discussions could derive from that paragraph alone; the main point is that Roxanne herself had begun to become machine-like in her observation and experimentation.
The ending pulls everything together (no spoilers here) satisfyingly so. I am off to find other of Mr. Roberson’s books with which to escape.