Last Year

Last Year

From the author of the bestselling and Hugo Award-winning Spin, comes an SF tale that poses searching questions about tourism and colonizationTwo events made September 1st a memorable day for Jesse Cullum. First, he lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Second, he saved the life of President Ulysses S. Grant.It's the near future, and the technology exists to open doorways into...

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Title:Last Year
Author:Robert Charles Wilson
Rating:
ISBN:0765332639
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:351 pages

Last Year Reviews

  • Liviu
    Dec 10, 2016

    Starts great and despite being a bit so-so on its blurb, the narrative pull of the first few pages was so great that I kept turning them and reading; unfortunately about half on, the book turned into a political screed and we had enough of such in real life this year, while simultaneously the utter ridiculousness of the book's premise surfaced and I lost all suspension of disbelief when from a cool adventure/romance it turned into a "bad rich guy trying to conquer the universe" stuff

    Seems that l

    Starts great and despite being a bit so-so on its blurb, the narrative pull of the first few pages was so great that I kept turning them and reading; unfortunately about half on, the book turned into a political screed and we had enough of such in real life this year, while simultaneously the utter ridiculousness of the book's premise surfaced and I lost all suspension of disbelief when from a cool adventure/romance it turned into a "bad rich guy trying to conquer the universe" stuff

    Seems that like with the author's last book, while his narrative power pulled me into the novel, his trying to fit the book into the current political orientation of the genre, started putting me off badly as the novel started reading very forced and the suspension of disbelief just died...

  • Standback
    Dec 06, 2016

    A good read, though it kind of doesn't make it to where it's trying to go.

    The future has opened up a window into the past. They're sending through tourists, they're opening up trade. They're selling the future to the past, and the past to the future. And they've done

    for this to run smoothly, securely, and with excellent administration.

    The premise is great and well executed, and all surrounding the theme of exploitation -- the future is basically saying "Eff the Prime Directive" and i

    A good read, though it kind of doesn't make it to where it's trying to go.

    The future has opened up a window into the past. They're sending through tourists, they're opening up trade. They're selling the future to the past, and the past to the future. And they've done

    for this to run smoothly, securely, and with excellent administration.

    The premise is great and well executed, and all surrounding the theme of exploitation -- the future is basically saying "Eff the Prime Directive" and interfering with an alternate variation of its own past. It's especially effective because:

    (A) The exploitation feels real and plausible. It's not mustache-twirling villainy, it's all things that

    rationalizations, that take the past-people into consideration (always in second place, of course, to the future-people), and aren't directly destructive. The future visitors don't come across as unreasonable; indeed, they've made great efforts to be considerate. But at the same time, you can see how it adds up to and where it's heading to.

    (B) The future-people's visit to the alternate past has a time limit -- this is their Last Year there. This does a

    job of driving home how fickle the future's "help" is, how what's really making this thing work for them is the complete freedom from consequence.

    There is a "But" to this, though. At some point, the book veers off into a side-track that just doesn't do anything for me. For the last 1/2-1/3 of the book, the premise becomes so much backdrop, while the protagonist goes off to Face The Enemy From His Shadowy Past. The book shifts from social-SF into thriller, and... ooof. I kind of felt like the premise was the core of the book. but the author wasn't able to weave an actual story out of it. It was a shame :-/

    All that being said, I enjoyed the book a lot. Even if the latter half is exasperating, the first half is worthwhile. Three stars for a good, intriguing book, albeit with some significant flaws.

  • Sara Cutaia
    Dec 02, 2016

    One of - no, THE - best time-traveling book I've ever read. The story takes place in 1876, but people from the 21st century have traveled back in time and are making a "resort" out of the time period. Visitors are able to travel back in time - for a hefty price - and see the world as it was before. However, once this portal to the past has been opened, it is immediately changed. It will never progress into the same future from whence the travelers came. But that's ok - all of these histories are

    One of - no, THE - best time-traveling book I've ever read. The story takes place in 1876, but people from the 21st century have traveled back in time and are making a "resort" out of the time period. Visitors are able to travel back in time - for a hefty price - and see the world as it was before. However, once this portal to the past has been opened, it is immediately changed. It will never progress into the same future from whence the travelers came. But that's ok - all of these histories are different worlds, all side-by-side each other, going on infinitely. What happens in this past will not affect the future the visitors came from.

    Jesse, a '76 local, rises in the ranks of security and gets teamed up with Elizabeth, a visitor from the future who also works security. Together, they must track down some contraband that has been coming through the "Mirror" from the future - iPods, books that have yet to be written, and most importantly, weapons. With a plot that amps up with each chapter, our heroes must fight against corruption and time itself. And what will happen when Elizabeth must return to her time period? These two have formed a connection that might be forever broken by time and space.

    I loved the balance of character development and plot progression. I was taken as much by Jesse and Elizabeth's stories as I was by the action/adventure narrative. Wilson is a beautiful writer, and I'd recommend this novel to anyone who likes a fun science-fiction read!

  • Shawn
    Mar 14, 2017

    Another fascinating and by far different time travel story. You never know what you are going to get, so I pick up each one of his novels with openness and expectation. I always get a good read, no matter where the story takes me. No other author quite does this like Robert. I love his work and loved this novel.

  • Garrison Nelson
    Dec 07, 2016

    I would recommend this book to any individual who enjoys a entertaining read in a theoretical world of remarkable construct. Jesse is a fantastic main character who displays strength and ferocity mixed with the pride and honor one hopes they themselves could display. I truly enjoyed this book!

  • Shaun Hutchinson
    Jan 18, 2017

    This was a book full of ideas. It was about a group of people from the future who found a way into the past and set up a way to make money there. It could have explored a lot of things. How did they learn to travel to the past? What were the ramifications of people from the future traveling to the past? Instead, it decided not to explore any of the interesting ideas and instead focused on a pretty standard "adventure" type story. It wasn't bad, but I was disappointed because the last book of Wil

    This was a book full of ideas. It was about a group of people from the future who found a way into the past and set up a way to make money there. It could have explored a lot of things. How did they learn to travel to the past? What were the ramifications of people from the future traveling to the past? Instead, it decided not to explore any of the interesting ideas and instead focused on a pretty standard "adventure" type story. It wasn't bad, but I was disappointed because the last book of Wilson's I read was Spin, and it was so interesting. This book could have been as interesting, but sadly it wasn't.

    I think this was a case of me wanting the book to be something it wasn't. I'm sure there are readers who will really enjoy this.

  • Jamie Collins
    Jan 01, 2017

    I love a good time travel story. Opportunists from the year 2032 have established a tourist destination in 1887 Ohio. History buffs from the future come to gawk at 19th century America, while the locals come to marvel at a careful selection of futuristic wonders.

    This book stands out partly because of the lack of concern over altering history: apparently there are endless parallel timelines, so nothing done in this 1887 will affect this version of 2032. As a result there are only cursory attempts

    I love a good time travel story. Opportunists from the year 2032 have established a tourist destination in 1887 Ohio. History buffs from the future come to gawk at 19th century America, while the locals come to marvel at a careful selection of futuristic wonders.

    This book stands out partly because of the lack of concern over altering history: apparently there are endless parallel timelines, so nothing done in this 1887 will affect this version of 2032. As a result there are only cursory attempts to prevent the inevitable smuggling and political activism - some people have philosophical objections to interference in any timeline. We do get the obligatory attempt to prevent the birth of Hitler, but it’s only a tiny sideline.

    The story is mostly narrated by a man from 1887 (with an improbably colorful past including a childhood spent in a brothel) who is employed by the “City of Futurity”. He’s partnered with a rather somber female soldier from 2016, and they make at least a token effort to figure out who is smuggling weapons to the past and cocaine to the future.

  • C.W.
    Jan 31, 2017

    An intriguing take on time travel, mainly focused on its characters, and the ethical and moral implications of influencing the past and future of a world that doesn't affect our own. Full video review:

  • Mick
    Feb 17, 2017

    Well, this was a damned good time travel tale, with a kind of dystopian twist.

    I think what distinguishes this book from a lot of time travel tales is that it doesn't overly-explain how it works. In fact, it's less time travel than... Well, you'll just have to read it to see. Sorry.

    Jesse and Elizabeth are the main characters; the former from the "past" and the latter from the "future" (those quotations aren't misplaced, there's a reason for them, but again, you'll just have to read the book, or f

    Well, this was a damned good time travel tale, with a kind of dystopian twist.

    I think what distinguishes this book from a lot of time travel tales is that it doesn't overly-explain how it works. In fact, it's less time travel than... Well, you'll just have to read it to see. Sorry.

    Jesse and Elizabeth are the main characters; the former from the "past" and the latter from the "future" (those quotations aren't misplaced, there's a reason for them, but again, you'll just have to read the book, or find a review with spoilers if you wanna know what's up). They make a pretty dynamic team, and though the inevitable love story does occur, they also indulge in other, well, activities. that actually lend a sense of realism to the characters and the events in which they find themselves. Stressful events. As in they gotta relieve some stress...

    Wilson's a very good writer, and it surprised me that he'd been writing books for so long. Shame I've only just discovered his talent. I'm starting an earlier novel of his next called Darwinia, and if it's as good as Last Year, I'll continue playing catch up on his other works.

    Highly recommended.

  • Bookwraiths
    Mar 10, 2017

    Originally reviewed at

    .

    Time Travel. Alternate timelines. Dystopian themes. Action and adventure. Love story. All these themes and more integrated by Robert Charles Wilson into an intriguing story, appropriately called

    .

    Time travel is now real! People from the 21st century having developed a way to open stable time portals to the past. Quickly, these scientific endeavors becoming monetized, as the “past” is turned into resort destinations, where — for a kingly price — people

    Originally reviewed at

    .

    Time Travel. Alternate timelines. Dystopian themes. Action and adventure. Love story. All these themes and more integrated by Robert Charles Wilson into an intriguing story, appropriately called

    .

    Time travel is now real! People from the 21st century having developed a way to open stable time portals to the past. Quickly, these scientific endeavors becoming monetized, as the “past” is turned into resort destinations, where — for a kingly price — people can have the ultimate vacation experience!

    There is only one draw back to all this: the “past” is transformed into an alternate world. A timeline which diverges from the future and goes its own way. But, thankfully, this doesn’t cause any negative consequences for the 21st century, rather the new, modified past peacefully co-exists side-by-side with infinite alternate times.

    One such vacation destination is Jesse Cullum’s late 19th century Ohio. A time where a luxurious resort of sorts has sprung up around the time portal from the future. The local residents becoming part of the vacation experience, as well as holding all sorts of jobs at this time resort. And this includes Jesse, who is part of the security force.

    Together with his partner Elizabeth (who is from the future), Jesse spends his days tracking down illegal contraband being smuggled in from the 21st century, things like electronic devices, unpublished novels, drugs, and many other things — both large and small. The job suiting Jesse, especially since he and Elizabeth are lovers.

    But then something horrible happens. An event Jesse knew might happen, but one he tried not to think about. Because time portals can only be kept open for certain time frames, and now it is time for Jesse’s portal to close, causing Elizabeth to return to the future. And Jesse must either let her go or expose a huge secret in order to stay with the woman he loves.

    Overall,

    is a rousing time travel tale, which introduces some cool ideas, and takes the plots to interesting conclusions. There is very little focus on the actually time travel aspect, except in its effects on individuals in the past, but when Wilson focus on this element the narrative succeeds wonderfully.

    As for the love story between Jesse and Elizabeth, it was well crafted, fairly realistic under the circumstances portrayed, and quite entertaining for the most part. At times I did have to suspend my disbelief at some of the lengths Jesse goes to for love, but since I’m a fully recovered romantic my struggles with this theme isn’t really surprising or noteworthy.

    Where the narrative faltered for me was the action and adventure plot line. It started off strong, then fell into fairly traditional, unsurprising paths. Nothing inherently wrong with a standard thriller story line. I know many people will love it. I was just hoping for something a bit different and unexpected, I suppose.

    Definitely,

    is a fine time travel story, one many people will find immensely entertaining. While I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would, I still found Robert Charles Wilson’s ideas and writing style to my liking and look forward to reading more of his works in the future.

    I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.