The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: Not set

Member Reviews

An interesting read. I was straight into it and connected with the characters. I was intrigued and interested why nothing much happens in the first half. The second half happens and it looses its momentum. The first a brilliant piece of writing and the second, a hurried I’m not sure where I going with this, half. Having said all that, I did enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?

Like cats the naming of books can be a serious matter. Titles shape our expectations of the story to come be they a short snappy thriller; a flowery literary tale or gory punchy horror. With The Return of The Incredible Exploding Man Dave Hutchinson suggests we are in for a B Movie SF ride and then cunningly manages to both subvert our expectations of the tale being told and yet still delivering on that title’s promise just not quite how I expected it.

Our lead character is Alex Dolan an experienced Scottish science journalist trying to eke out a living while the US print journalism scene continues to shrink and die.  The unpaid bill reminders are coming through the door but then comes the offer of a job working for one of the richest men in the world. Stan Clayton is a very successful tech baron who has decided to create the next version of the Large Hadron Collider.  Bigger and even more powerful this device is going to even further examine what reality is made of. Of course, a huge and expensive project like that is always going to be having some notable set up issues which then attracts the wrong media headlines and after being mocked on Saturday Night Live he decides he needs someone to tell his side of the story. Alex is invited to live in the town of Sioux Crossing where the collider resides; he is paid to publish some magazine articles and ultimately a book – he can be open and honest but must deliver a ‘sensawunda’. Alex reluctantly agrees and then starts to see the positive and negative impacts of Clayton’s investment on the town and eventually himself.  

On the surface Sioux Crossing is a glowing endorsement for capitalism’s regeneration of a decaying small town but it is also still home to the original inhabitants feeling squeezed out; academic infighting and despite that people who really care about pushing the bounds of science. Alex himself also is seen as way inside for others to finally work out what Clayton may be up to. And then there are the sparks and angels that people keep claiming that they have seen over the years.

So generally, this feels much more a SF thriller, but it meanders into many other places. Clayton is not an evil genius looking to take over the world – but he is someone for whom money solves all problems from phone signals to troublesome employees. Need a site then let’s buy a town; then let’s replace all the buildings; lets fill it with my own people.  It’s less evil and much more a very blinkered worldview that in the age of tech barons launching twitter wars and acting like small countries feels very true. But at the same time the actual scientists are genuinely keen to explore the universe with their new toy and it’s not a novel saying we are going too far and indeed rejects many myths of black holes (to some extent). But Hutchinson does throw in how scientists can be prickly when called on bad behaviour and that uneasy relationship between pure science and government military research where beautiful science is often just seen as shinier way to kill people.  

Into this walks our main lead Alex – a middle-aged, balding slightly lost soul trying to find his place in life.  He definitely doesn’t want to play to Stan’s tune but at the same time he’s emotionally captured by the people he meets and then also pressganged into staying by British Intelligence! Alex is however fundamentally a decent and also humorous man. He forms relationships with many in the town from Wendy the much smarter and more practical scientist and the cranky elderly neighbour Ralph and his farting dog Homer. The novel mixes pathos as in particular these two men discuss their lives and where they’re going and there is a lot of banter between the two which is just joyful.  It’s the type of snark you could easily see in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War novel but here just in someone’s living room rather than on a spaceship. 

That’s for me the most interesting part of the novel.  It’s a low speed thriller for much of it.  Alex is not immediately sucked into a mystery he’s just exploring how this place works. And slowly weird thigs happen – mysterious figures at the door; sparks in a room and laptops being hacked and then events get larger. These give Alex a chance to decide who’s side he is on and he’s refreshingly not selfish or that intrepid he just would like to do the decent thing. That leads to the finale of the story where all we’ve seen goes 180 degrees into a very different type of story – one that makes sense with all we have seen but not one you would be expecting.  I think how much of that you accept will be the key to your enjoying the novel.  I am an unabashed fan of mixing up types of stories and creating something different which this delivers in spades but if you are more logically minded in your plots then you may be feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under you unfairly. My one reservation is that the finale has a lot to try and wrap up and the faster pace at the end does seem to leave some plot threads unexplained.  I’m hoping that this signals we will return to Alex’s new lifestyle in the future as I sense there could be some more tales to be told.

Following the very Le Carre style ‘Fractured Europe’ series that Hutchinson deservedly has received much acclaim for I was not sure what we would get in this novel.  It however actively tries to move away from spying and skulduggery but at the same time is still funny, perceptive about the state of the world and genuinely surprising in the directions it takes.  If this feels the type of slow burn SF thriller you have always wanted to read, then I would heartily recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
This book is mostly brilliant, and is very much a book of two parts.
For the majority of the book, we have a slow burning but very brilliantly described path from an out-of-work writer to him being employed by a hugely rich person to write about a new supercollider. This part is excellent, as it builds up the background without us noticing unduly, and Alex meets various people working in or near his new town. Some of this is fascinating, and some is creepy, as you notice how a billionaire can manipulate places and people to suit him. It is all rather plausible.
The second part of this book, much smaller than the first part, is where things change dramatically. It becomes very science-fiction written, rather different to the first, and even as someone who loves scifi I found it a little surprising. However, it did all rather make sense, and I did enjoy reading about it as some things became clear.
Unfortunately, I felt that there were many issues still unresolved when I suddenly found myself at the end, and would rather have read a slightly longer book and had some of those explained. I am not someone who always needs all loose ends tied up, but I did feel a bit short-changed as I was expecting an explanation for some things that had happened. It was tempting to take away a star for this, as I cannot use half-stars! But I have not, as I did thoroughly enjoy the story, and just wished there had been a bit more.
Was this review helpful?
First off I should say that sci-fi has never been my preferred genre to read. Having said that I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. It was witty, and engaging and whilst I can't pretend to understand all the sciency parts, it was intriguing. Alex Dolan is in a state of lethargy. Jobless, penniless and aimless. One day a letter arrives offering him a job interview. He also finds that all his bills have been paid off in full. He flies to San Francisco to meet Stan Clayton, the fifth richest man in the world. Stan has bought a whole county in the U.S. and is attempting a science experiment never attempted before. Alex's only job is to write a book about the experiment. However, the offer seems to good to be true, and things take a strange turn with mysterious figures appearing, blue sparks in the air and being coerced into becoming a spy for the British Consulate. Ultimately as the experiment counts down, a blast leaves everyone suspended between dimensions apart from Alex who acquires superpower status, and his nemesis Larry Day who is the incredible exploding man. I was somewhat perturbed by the ending, which some will love and some will hate, but potentially there may be more to come for Alex Dolan. Original and interesting, fans of sci-fi will I'm sure love this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is a slightly deceptive book (which to me is a Good Thing: see below for why) as despite the pulpy title (and image) Hutchinson delivers what seems at first to be quite a restrained story. Alex Dolan is a washed up journalist, cast overboard as media transforms and traditional titles founder, who is rescued from debt by billionaire Stanislaw Clayton ('Stan').

Clayton is pouring money into a new high energy physics project, the Sioux Crossing Supercollider ('SCS') designed to investigate and manipulate gravity - but things aren't going well and he wants to generate some positive publicity for the enterprise. So Alex is invited to stay in Sioux City, a slice of small-town America apparently preserved from ruin and decay by Clayton's billions. No, not apparently. It has been preserved - or where necessary, rebuilt. The locals are in equal measure resentful to an all-powerful outsider and desperate for Clayton to continue his support, giving Dolan some difficulties in coming up with an interesting angle on the SCS.

It's a delight to read about Alex's encounters with Sioux City and its residents (both locals and the staff of the SCS), his very slowly growing misgivings that everything seems too perfect, and the undercurrent of weirdness that pervades Sioux City (from the basement full of guns in his rental house to yellowing newspaper stories describing strange past events). Hutchinson gives us an even paced, shrewd, and cooly perceptive vision of the place and its people, allowing it to unroll gradually, with the details of everyday life - getting lost on an unmarked road, dealing with a gonzo physicist who frequents seedy bars (OK, maybe that's not 'everyday') or playing chess with a neighbour - given weight and significance (as are the comparisons between pretty, lucky Sioux Crossing and the less well kept, indeed downright shabby, towns that surround it).

I found all this a joy. For the reader demanding instant action, little may seem to be going on but for me, it is all happening, even as Alex struggles to get a grip on the book Clayton wants written and small obstacles begin to appear in his way. Hutchinson has I think a real knack for getting under the skin of life, making the ordinary significant and drawing his readers in through detail and cool observations rather than lectures and infodumps.

But yes, there is a point where everything changes and this becomes a rather different sort of a book. It's hard to say a lot about this for fear of spoilers. The weirdness begins to show more and more, and Alex becomes the focus for someone with a grudge. His discomfort with this is in no small part due to his having a connection with British intelligence, which makes cooperating with the Local Police Department to get to the bottom of the crimes rather difficult (and given how friendly the locals are, itself racks him with guilt and indecision). Strange things begin to happen, which both acknowledges and denied by those around him, the basic weirdness of Sioux City itself providing a disorienting background to what is now going on.

The closing part of the book is then definitely fully science-fictional and builds skilfully on the earlier narrative, with mysteries explained (apart - I think - from one - why a certain person was driving a certain car just before the story turned?).This end part is satisfying in itself, if startling, but I was a little sad that so many strands from the earlier, gentler part were left unresolved: the enigmatic Clayton, the book Alex was writing, his relationship with Wendy, the prickly, hostile Prof. Delahaye who takes against Alex. I could easily have read a book twice the length which went into these things in more detail.

All in all this is an absorbing book, great fun to read with an intriguing mystery at its heart.
Was this review helpful?
This is a really intriguing speculative fiction book that I completely loved and, despite what the title makes it sound like, it’s a standalone novel not a sequel. The pace is very different to what I normally read, it’s slower with not much of any action BUT the characters and mystery carry the book perfectly. 

Alex Dolan is a science journalist down on his luck when he’s approached by a billionaire with a supercollider to write a book about the issue- riddled project but he can’t shake the feeling that something very strange is going on.

I loved Alex, he’s a journalist so can’t help but stick his neck into things and question what’s really going on. He’s also not phased by authority or status quo and so is brilliantly sharp witted with people who expect him to just go along with it. I loved his personality but I also loved the supporting characters. The grumpy older next door neighbour who becomes his friend. The various members of town who may or may not be involved or hiding things from him – I don’t want to be more specific, you’ll have to find out if you read it.

The book has this pervasive feeling of not-quite-right that I love about books set in small town communities – like the whole town is in on something – but it mixes it up with science fiction instead of small town secrets. Something isn’t working at the supercollider and strange occurrences with someone seeming to appear and disappear surrounded by static electricity keep happening in town. I loved the mystery unfolding and while the end was different (like most things about this book) it suited the story perfectly. A brilliant read.
Was this review helpful?
The Return of the Incredible Exploding man is essentially a slow burn, building up to a (for lack of a better word) an explosive ending. At times the narrative did drag a bit, but overall this very surreal tale kept my interest, especially with so much mystery intertwined throughout its pages. This was the first time I have read anything by this author and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. 

It took awhile for me to really start to like Alex, but all the other characters in the story more than made up for it. At times I felt like I was somewhere like the town in Northern Exposure with a dash of Twin Peaks given how quirky and sometimes bizarre everyone was. 

Honestly, I'm not quite 100% sure what I've just read, but I can tell you that I really enjoyed reading this unique and mind boggling tale. 

Full review to come on my blog!
Was this review helpful?
A fascinating book that kept me riveted from start to finish. Hutchinson has crafted an extremely unique yet fun read that left me wanting more after the final page.
Was this review helpful?
The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man is a book of two halves, both of which are enormously readable and enjoyable. The first two thirds of the tale moves at an easy pace and tells the tale of Alex Dolan, a more-or-less failed science-journalist, unemployed and facing deportation, who suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself head-hunted by Stanislaw ‘Stan’ Clayton, the world’s richest man. Stan has built a supercollider to rival CERN in the middle-of-nowhere, middle-American town of Sioux Crossing. Alex will be handsomely paid, comfortably housed and well looked after, and all he has to do is write a book and place articles in the media that shine the best possible light on Stan’s ambitious vanity project. It is the answer to all Alex’s troubles, the job of his dreams. For Alex, it all seems too good to be true.
For most of its length, the story unfolds slowly, but always entertainingly, as Alex attempts to make sense of his odd job, his alien environment and all the peculiar events that keep occurring.
Then everything changes. An Event occurs that completely alters the trajectory of the story and changes Alex’s life in the most profound way imaginable. The tale really picks up speed at this point; the plot moves at a cracking pace as The Event and subsequent fall-out are told in real-time and retrospect. The tale is ret-conned; past events are given a kind of meaning. Things become complex.
There’s some fiendishly complicated science here that is, for the most part, glossed over, and thank goodness for it. There is a refreshing lack of fakery and gobbledygook that I really did appreciate as the story grew ever more outlandish. Alex’s experiences in the ‘Manifold’ are elegantly told with eloquent simplicity. The science never takes over or gets in the way of the plot. It never lost the sense of the story, and the story never loses its sense of fun.
At times, the plot is perhaps too simple. A lot seems have got lost towards the end as the book rolled smoothly to its satisfying climax. It felt to me that a fair bit of this section of the story was edited out to quicken the pace, and I’m not sure it was all for the best. I would have liked a slower unfolding and a little more explanation — what happened to Stan, and Ralph? Did I miss something or did they simply disappear from the story? Why was Larry so ghastly? - I would have liked to have known more, though there is a perverse kind of pleasure in not knowing too much.
There are no major plot twists (I can’t have been the only reader who guessed from the very start the origins of the odd electrical events and the re-appearing ‘angel’), but the story is always fascinating. It kept me reading, and there were more than enough surprises to keep things interesting.
All told, this is a spankingly good story with well-developed characters, which is not often true in SF. A true page turner with a healthy dash of humour; an easy read that I found extremely hard to put down.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man. The story over the first few sections really kept me interested and wanting to know what was going on. The story definitely didn’t end as I expected it to, though, and more could have been made of what was suggested in the stories past as to how and what the “Angel” or  “static” was in relation to what was happening in the present - a missed opportunity, maybe? 
The ending was certainly strange, and maybe a bit lost when referring to the lives of some of the armed forces characters. 

A comic book, super-hero.... more X-Men esque character idea, with some funny lines, a county reformed for the purposes of a supercollider experiment, a journalist whom has no choice but to work on a book associated with the goings on at the SCS, a grumpy townsfolk, a mystery blue light and some strange super powers. 

A bit more could have be done to polish and refine the story overall, but worth a read if you want something quite light, a bit investigative mysterious, and to see how super powers were formed.
Was this review helpful?
“Alex’s life appeared to have entered a period of rapidly escalating surrealism.”

About a fifth of the way through this wildly entertaining novel, Alex, the protagonist, realizes with some level of sardonicism that his existence may never return to what he once considered “normal”. Indeed, normativity builds itself out from our experience, cannot in fact do otherwise. Relativity in all its forms is not, it turns out, for the faint of heart.

Award-winning English author Dave Hutchinson has crafted an entrancing universe to inhabit. In addition to his fiction, Hutchinson has also worked as a journalist, and he has his main character do the same — an erstwhile Boston Globe employee — though with far less success, at least at first. Following a series of inexplicable interactions with an expectedly bizarre billionaire, Alex finds himself transported to a small town in Iowa called Sioux Crossing. Here, he discovers a world of rogue physics, mysterious circumstances, and a memorable cast of characters.

Equal parts science fiction and whodunit, The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson ranges from the prosaic to the absurd, often in the same sentence, and with great dexterity. The figure of Stan Clayton, enigmatic rich man par excellence, looms over the story. The reader is drawn along wondering what exactly Clayton is up to, what he may have up his affluent, bespoke sleeve. At the same time, the singular town of Sioux Crossing conjures its own baffling perplexity. As soon as one mystery reveals itself, another pops up to take focus.

Somehow, despite their number, the plot points and range of characters never seem unwieldy or cumbersome. A dull moment’s not to be had, even if it seems that way at first blush. Mr. Hutchinson has something in mind that will take the reader, if not by complete surprise, then at least down a modestly familiar path within the halo of a new lamp and a novel approach.

Similar in many ways to certain comic book characters and stories, Alex does not consider himself either particularly talented or well-suited to the job for which Clayton has chosen him. Also similar to his comic book counterparts, our hero’s position gets thrust upon him unawares. Though not exactly an innocent bystander either, Alex does sense something imminent, something ominous, a surreal world that is about to change markedly — again — and he will almost certainly find himself among the collateral damage. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say the final quarter of the book holds some very exciting moments.

It is easy to be swept up in the world and the events of this book. Mr. Hutchinson draws on some well-known  tropes (with an attendant sense of credit where due), yet he takes them in a wholly new direction (at least to this reader). The story unfolds swiftly, then calms a bit, before finally picking up again. If one finds a complaint in this department, it may be the ending, which felt to me a tad unfinished. One imagines what happens next — given a strong hint what that might be — but a sense of finality is not one of this book’s strongest points.

Another small critical point: Mr. Hutchinson uses the same three or four responsive descriptors throughout the book. Practically every single character “raised an eyebrow”, “shrugged,” “nodded”, or “grunted” during conversation. That was about all they seemed to do other than listen and speak (though the author has a superb ear for dialogue itself). An ounce of variety would have solved this quite easily.

That said, these are two remarkably minor points in the grand scheme of this novel, which remains engaging, unsettling, and incredibly fun from start to finish. For fans of superhero reimaginings, look no further than The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man from Dave Hutchinson. You’re almost certain to be glad you did.
Was this review helpful?
Brilliant - really enjoyed this novel, found it more exciting than initially thought.  Looking forward to what Dave Hutchinson writes next and will recommend to friends!
Was this review helpful?
The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson is a highly recommended science fiction thriller.

Multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton has bought a town and county in Iowa to build his dream supercollider, but now he needs someone to write about the evolution of Sioux Crossing and his project. Clayton recruits and hires Alex Dolan to write some articles and a book about the Sioux Crossing, Iowa, Supercollider.  Alex is a Scottish science/tech journalist living in Boston who has been struggling to make a living, so the generous offer is too tempting to pass up. When Alex arrives to look over the town and everyone in the town knows who he is and why he is there, he begins to find the town a little unsettling, especially when a few people tell him to get out why he can. Alex, however, needs the money and can't back out anyway because a spy at the British embassy in Minneapolis has contacted him and threatened deportation if he doesn't spy on the facility for him.

From this beginning, when it seems to be just a mystery and you're expecting problems on the collider campus, the narrative rolls along, intriguing and interesting with little sightings and observations of odd, disturbing occurrences popping up now and then. And, make no mistake, it is a compelling plot and had my attention but I was waiting for the titular theme promised by the title. When that hits, in the last quarter of the book, the novel absolutely erupts and I dare you to set it aside. It's at this point that the narrative is all-consuming, riveting and engrossing. There was no way I was going to stop reading.

Now, I'm going to admit that there were some issues with the narrative, especially in saving the big bang for essentially the end, when it could have been explored and used to the advantage of the plot sooner. The lead up to the final quarter was great as a mystery, but it would have made for an even stronger and more exciting story line if what was the last twenty-five percent of the plot had been extended and further developed. The ending felt rushed and I was left wanting more. I did like it quite a bit, though, and do highly recommend The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Solaris.
Was this review helpful?
There is a randomness to this tale that might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you expect something of that sort to occur, you might just like the story. 

For some strange and inexplicable reason, I had fun reading this book. I say strange because I am not sure I could convey to you why that might be the case but I am going to give it a try. This has sci-fi as the backbone of the narrative but it all about Alex. Alex Dolan is stuck in a hard place, he has no job prospects until something strange drops into his lap. It should wipe away all his worries but it just makes him more curious. The first half of the story is about how Alex builds a new life and the second (smaller half) is all about how he has to do that all over again. The crowning glory of the book is the narration which kept up this interesting tempo making you curious about the whys of the events that unfold. The only thing is that we may not get all the answers. I am usually someone who needs everything tied up in a bow to move on from a book but some things here kept me from ripping my hair out in any form of frustration. I think it was the subtle tongue-in-cheek remarks about the events that pepper the background with interesting stories or even the fact that almost nothing gets tied up in a bow. These little things have you follow Alex's adventure with no expectations for how things turn out. The last chapter was surprisingly satisfying despite its vagueness ( it is not a spoiler, just a heads-up from someone who actually liked it). I am saying as little as possible about the actual situations themselves as it is more fun to watch it unravel a little at a time as you read the book.

I liked the people I encountered and I had my paranoid moments as well as trusting ones with the lead protagonist(s) and sometimes I suspected I missed something with my speed of reading and actually had the time and patience to go back and reread parts of it! Overall I recommend this book to those on the lookout for a different kind of read and find this review even remotely stimulating. 

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. I loved the authors writing style, though sometimes it felt like some descriptions were lacking.  The science was explained in ways that did not feel dumbed down, and the idea of the main character being an outsider in all ways already was perfect.  It was a fun ride from start to finish, with a killer ending!
Was this review helpful?
This had potential and is definitely not the blurbed "new sci-fi masterpiece" in my opinion.
The first 3/4 are incredibly dull and boring and I don't care about Alex at all, because he had absolutely no drive and is floating in the wind like a tiny flag.
The supporting characters are flat.
The writing itself isn't bad, but there are issues with pacing and plot lines.

I'm quite disappointed. I really wanted to like this one.

Thanks Netgalley for providing me with an eARC.
Was this review helpful?
This is sensational.  I loved the voice,  it amused me and was just properly enough cynical and humorous to lend credibility to  this futuristic,  surreal story of creating a gap in time and space that our traumatised man experiences like no other.  A customised town and a giant scientific apparatus feature. 
 Characters lend grounding to the story too from the irascible old man to previous police officers,  and a fresh young woman scientist,    and a newspaper editor as he settles in.  I'm definitely going to look for other books by this terrific writer.
Was this review helpful?
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it’s a great character piece, examining the workings of a down-on-his-luck journalist as he tries to write a book about an impossible project in the middle of nowhere. He forms a couple of interesting relationships and gains a few months of every day experiences. 

Hutchinson adds a lot of humor to the book and creates a compelling protagonist. That being said, it felt like there was something big missing from the story. The book promises explosive events and extreme science fiction and it mostly reads as a character piece that happens to take place around a science facility. While the final 25% of the book is definitely full science fiction, I found myself confused by the events and the sudden jumps in time. There didn’t seem to be a major conflict or a solution to any major issue. I expected to see this alternate realm in depth or to see some kind of final ending to the big villain, but instead it just kind of ended. I enjoyed reading the book but the journey was drawn out and there wasn’t any kind of definitive ending to be satisfied with. 

While I did enjoy parts of the book, I won’t be publishing a review to my blog. I do appreciate the chance to read it in advance.
Was this review helpful?
The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man
By Dave Hutchinson

I gobbled this book up in just a couple of days!

Dave Hutchinson is the king of rising dread!

The story is building towards a big event, which happens 75% of the way into the novel, but Dave Hutchinson keeps his cards very close to his chest! He gives you just enough to hint at what's going on - but I wouldn't put any money on it if I were you!

The Protagonist: Alex Dolan the Scot, in Boston (Bawston), USA

Alex, a science journalist, has my kind of humour! I laughed quite a few times at his dry wit and irreverent sarcasm.

The Premise

The premise of the book is that Alex's life is efficiently and unashamedly hacked by the billionaire Stanislaw Clayton (because apparently the line between research and hacking is moot when you've got that kind of money), and he uses that information to make Alex an offer that he can't refuse.

Stanislaw commissions Alex to write a book about his latest science project, but to do that, Alex has to move to a new town:

Sioux Crossing in Iowa

Alex finds the whole 'newness' of the place so strange. Too good to be true.

And it's not just Sioux Crossing that feels off.

Right from the beginning of the story and Alex's very first encounter with Stanislaw, right to the end of the book, something never feels quite right.

Dave Hutchinson gives you plenty of clues, which don't offer any clarity, however, but rather add to the descending haze of mystery.

Character-Driven Story

My favourite characters are Alex's good friend Ralph, also a (former) writer, and Ralph's flatulent dog Homer. It's worth reading the book just for them!

Alex and Ralph (and Homer) also develop a great friendship with Wendy (a scientist working on Stanislaw Clayton's project), and the dynamic between them is brilliant!

Larry Day, the rockstar scientist, is a central (but very enigmatic) character. He's more of a presence on the page rather than a character we get to interact with long enough to figure him out.

We don't become aware of Larry until about a third of the way into the book, and even then we meet his bright red 1968 Ford Mustang GT before we meet him!

Larry's reputation precedes him, as is often the way with rockstars - or so I've heard.

Every page is ripe with potential for everything to kick-off, yet mostly not a great deal is happening; which is great for character-driven stories - especially when the characters are Alex, Ralph and Homer. I could read about them all day!

I'd say that the first 75% of the book is very character-driven, mysterious and suspenseful. The rest is a mixture of character, and SciFi-fuelled drama!

The Science

The science and the weird and wonderful things that happen towards the end of the book are dealt with in such a matter-of-fact way (and in human speak), that when what's happening in the room is juxtaposed with the underwhelmed (almost bored) reactions of the characters present, it's actually quite comical.

The nearest comparison I could think of is the contrast between making a movie versus watching a movie.

This book takes you behind the scenes on the action. There are no clever camera angles, there's no dramatic music, and there are no lingering shots or heroic gestures. Dave Hutchinson very successfully keeps it real in a very surreal situation.

That said, visually it would be incredibly entertaining if this was made into a movie, but without the typical Hollywood sheen. With all this mad stuff happening on screen and it barely raising an eyebrow from the group of bored scientists, it might raise a chuckle or two.


There is so much I would love to say about this book, but I don't want to spoil it for you!

The ending is fantastic and absolutely makes it worth the wait.

There is also definite potential for a spin-off; but if Dave Hutchinson doesn't write one, I may just try my hand at a piece of fan fiction because this story has my imagination absolutely buzzing!

So grab hold of a copy when it's published by Rebellion on 3rd September 2019 and read it!

Side note: This book is listed on NetGalley as 'General Fiction (Adult), SciFi & Fantasy,' but I'd say it reads strongly like 'General Fiction (Adult), SciFi, Mystery, Suspense Drama.'

Thanks for reading!

D x
Was this review helpful?
Loved this! Alex is an unassuming hero and the story of how he became a great deal more was a fascinating and fun journey. I enjoyed the dark humour, the twists, the setting - all of it. Will definitely be looking out for more from Dave Hutchinson as his writing is droll, well-paced and entertaining.
Was this review helpful?