Sandra Newman’s The Heavens is a book whose premise I can’t even talk about without some light book-jacket level spoilers, so stop reading here if that bothers you. It probably shouldn’t.

All right, so this is about some people living in New York circa 2000. Only, it slowly becomes clear, not quite our New York. And one of the characters has dreams that, it slowly becomes clear, are actually journeys back in time, which end up having an effect on the present-day world.

The time travel stuff itself is… fine, I guess, but it never really gets that interesting. If I tell you that they’re travelling back to Elizabethan days and that a playwright figures prominently, I’m guessing you won’t need me to name names. It’s kinda obvious like that.

More interesting is the present-day story, because the person having the dreams is changing the world, but they only remember the old world, so they wake up in the morning thinking that it’s President Gore, and then it turns out oops, not any more. So naturally everyone thinks they’re some kind of high-functioning schizophrenic, which drives some of the more interesting bits of the story.

Least satisfying of all, though, is the big mystery around why this is happening and the larger plot around that. The big reveal is honestly kinda hokey, and felt thematically silly. In no real sense does this feel like a Golden Age SF story—it’s clearly taking the form of literary fantasy—but this felt like the shock twist in an Asimov story.

Not really recommended, but it’s basically inoffensive


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