Version Control

book cover

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The acclaimed author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion returns with a compelling novel about the effects of science and technology on our friendships, our love lives, and our sense of self.

Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: she constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the President seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; her dreams are full of disquiet. Meanwhile, her husband’s decade-long dedication to his invention, the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you not call a “time machine”) has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or can possibly imagine.

Version Control is about a possible near future, but it’s also about the way we live now. It’s about smart phones and self-driving cars and what we believe about the people we meet on the Internet. It’s about a couple, Rebecca and Philip, who have experienced a tragedy, and about how they help–and fail to help–each other through it. Emotionally powerful and stunningly visionary, Version Control will alter the way you see your future and your present.

“Far more than a standard-model time travel saga. . . . Palmer’s lengthy, complex, highly challenging second novel is more brilliant than his debut, The Dream of Perpetual Motion. . . . Palmer earned his doctorate from Princeton with a thesis on the works of James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, and William Gaddis. This book stands with the masterpieces of those authors.”
Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)

“A Mobius strip of a novel in which time is more a loop than a path and various possibilities seem to exist simultaneously. Science fiction provides a literary launching pad for this audacious sophomore novel by Palmer. It offers some of the same pleasures as one of those state-of-the-union (domestic and national) epics by Jonathan Franzen, yet its speculative nature becomes increasingly apparent. . . . A novel brimming with ideas, ambition, imagination, and possibility yet one in which the characters remain richly engaging for the reader.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Palmer follows his surrealistic debut, The Dream of Perpetual Motion, with this mind-bending view of the practice of science in the near future. . . . A compelling, thought-provoking view of time and reality.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Palmer presents a fresh twist on the time-travel trope. . . . The characters are complex and flawed but thoroughly worthy of attention. Fans of Palmer’s previous book, time travel, near-future technologies, and sf will find great enjoyment here.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Dexter Palmer’s Version Control is a gripping page-turner, an insightful and wise look into the lives of scientists, a moving time-distortion story, and a clever satire about our current information age. I enjoyed the heck out of it.”
–Jeff VanderMeer, best-selling author of the Southern Reach Trilogy

“Is it a time machine? You be the judge. I’ll just say it’s a wise, sweet, and deeply unsettling story—a brilliant dystopian vision of some possible futures awaiting us, the children of the Information Age.”
—James Gleick, author of The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood

“Funny, poignant, and powerful—this novel is a multiverse, bursting with complexity and richness. Every time I thought it was done revealing layers of reality, it surprised me with yet another of its many worlds. And in each of those worlds, Dexter Palmer explores so many big things: race, science, philosophy, marriage, and personal histories growing together and apart and together again. It’s a moving story about love and loss, and the lifelong tangle of the possible with the inevitable.”
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and Sorry Please Thank You