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Book Review

Book Cover

Tomorrow and Tomorrow


Author: Thomas Sweterlitsch
Publisher: Headline
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 1 4722 1486 7
Publication Date: 15 January 2015

Ten years have passed since the terrorist bomb reduced Pittsburgh to little more than a post atomic memory; ten years since John Dominic Blaxton lost his wife and unborn child. Crippled by his loss and the memory of his wife, Blaxton works in the Archive, a vast repository of online images and information, reliving the deaths of others to weed out insurance scams. But it is not just his wife which Blaxton obsessively visits as he has found a girl, not killed by the bomb, but face down, half buried in mud, murdered. When the drugs he takes to enhance his online experience are discovered, he finds himself unemployed, in rehab and in receipt of a unique job offer...

Tomorrow and Tomorrow is the debut novel from Thomas Sweterlitsch. The book could loosely be called a science fiction detective novel.

Sweterlitsch has created a world, not too distant from our own, if you consider the path which has been laid out by devices like Goggle Glasses. Prior to the bomb which destroys Pittsburgh, the world had been heavily recorded from not only personal cameras, but shop and road cameras. Blaxton works for a company which uses this information to recreate the last moments of a person’s life to see if they really did die in the bomb. In fact it’s an insurance dodge, by companies who want to string out paying the relatives of those killed.

The other technological innovation is the Adware, a device which is sown into the wearers scalp allowing them to access the web, which is then projected onto a screen placed directly on the eye. The downside of this is that the wearer is bombarded with information, depending on what they are looking at. This likewise is not too farfetched considering the new Amazon phone which will record what you are looking at so that Amazon can offer to flog it to you. Everything your phone sees is kept on both your phone and in the cloud, slowly building up a database of your likes.

Blaxton is crippled by the loss of his wife, he survived the bomb because he was out of town at the time, and he is able to go back to those sections of their lives, of which there are many for all of the population and relive time over and over again. It’s an interesting concept, on the one hand you can see your loved ones and even interact with them, but how does that help you to heal or move on. In Blaxton's case, the technology fixes him in one place and time and in order to enhance the experience he takes illicit drugs.

On one particular night he is offered a new drug, unbeknownst to him it turns out to be heroin and, when he is picked up by the police, his world takes a turn for the worse. Through his new rehab he is offered a job, by Waverly, a powerful and influential businessman, who wants Blaxton to find his daughter, Albion, who like the dead girl in the mud appears to have been expertly edited out of the records. What follows is a trip through madness, lucidity, across the boundaries of what is real and what is recording.

Sweterlitsch has set himself a heady task for his first book and the density of ideas and changing perspective between the real and online world often make the book a little confusing to read, but I’m guessing that this was the author’s intent as it perfectly mirrors Blaxton’s sense of disassociation with both of the worlds he inhabits. The book is sometimes quite heavy going, given its subject matter, personal sadness and loss of love runs like a vein throughout the book.

Stripped of its technological wonders the actual story is pretty much a traditional detective novel, not that there is anything wrong with that. The story is well constructed and the ending comes as a genuine surprise.


Charles Packer

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