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The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

The Revisionists (edition 2012)

by Thomas Mullen

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2782840,656 (3.45)25
Title:The Revisionists
Authors:Thomas Mullen
Info:Mulholland Books (2012), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2012 Reading

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The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen



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Please visit The Mystery Bookshelf for details of my review: http://wp.me/p6kwu-17G
  johnbsheridan | Apr 27, 2013 |
I don't know if this is fake science fiction or a novel that's mildly tinged with fantasy. The conceit was enough to interest me, and I did finish the book but I will say I had a hard time keeping all the male characters straight - morose straight guys with a hero complex, in multiple flavors. Maybe I was too sleepy to give this book its due, but it felt like it was written to be optioned, which is the kind of vaguely science fiction book by which I feel most betrayed. ( )
  anderlawlor | Apr 9, 2013 |
Were it not for my current goal of reading every dystopia ever, or at least the first in a series should it be a series, I would have stopped reading this book. From the very beginning, I found it boring, heavy-handed, and completely improbably. Not only that, but confusing to. The opening chapters alternate between the perspective of Z and a selection of other characters, who, for the first hundred or so pages meant little to me and were hard to distinguish and remember.

The book did get better once Z had less chapters and the other characters became more familiar, but I never ever liked it. For one thing, I'm really not into political thrillers, of which this is most definitely one. If that's up your alley, you may want to go for this, despite my bad opinion or, perhaps, because of it.

I mentioned that the story struck me as improbably, which may seem strange from a person who just eats up all the latest paranormal nonsense and loves everything fantasy/sci fi. Here's the thing. I think if someone's going to write a book or make a movie on time travel, they have to be really careful explaining how that's possible. This story did not do that. You pretty much have to have the characters travel to another dimension/time stream or have to make the declaration that everything happens as it did in the past, because your future was in the past. Mullen did not do this. They were capable of changing the past, and likely did frequently. That just doesn't work, at least not with more of an explanation.

The one thing I really did like about the book was the interweaving between Troy Jones and Z. He finds himself become very bound up in his cover, and, in some ways, indistinguishable. This added a really cool psychological element to the story. Only, if I had written this, I would have ended the story on an awesome twist, rather than a boring logical conclusion to the ridiculous plot he wrote. It would have been so much cooler were it just about Z being crazy. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
My blog post about this book is at this link. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Mar 31, 2013 |
Sometimes, when we look back at history, we can see a clear line of a chain of events that comes up to some climactic point, and people wonder, well, what if we had stopped this, or changed that? Could we have avoided the whole thing, if we had managed to save that guy's life, or broke the code sooner, or something? But however it is, you get the world the way it is now.

But if you have time travel, well, why not go back and change it? Although... maybe you like the way things ended up, even if it was horrible to get there. Maybe if you have time travel, you try to make sure the bad things in the chain happen, so you can get to the shining future you want. It's a hell of a job to have, probably. But that's our Zed's job. He's come back from the future into modern-day DC to make sure things play out the way the future utopia needed them to play out, even if that means a magnificent cataclysm that will require people to learn the multiple of decimate to count all the dead, in the end.

That's our setup for Mullen's book, a multiple POV piece where one of the viewpoints is our future fixer Zed, with the others taken up by a young lawyer, an immigrant maid in a diplomat's residence, and a contractor who's just been cut off from the government. For all of the science-fiction trappings, they basically sit mostly within Zed's viewpoint; he has to keep a low cover to not disrupt the timelines further, after all. The rest of the book is more of a story of modern government, diplomats and bureaucracy and small projects of skulduggery, all connecting our characters together.

In many ways, really, this is a government thriller, a story that asks about the power of an individual against the bureaucracy and the systems of the world, against history. It's a story of alienation, with all of our characters feeling out of place, geographically, temperamentally, temporally. These are themes straight out of Kafka, but it's not like the world's changed that much since then. Even world-shaking events can't break the hold the idea of systems have on us, after all.

But as I say, this is science-fiction, and a character piece, and a DC thriller, rolled into one. They should clash more than they actually do, all the different modes, but Mullen actually does a pretty good job of holding them all together. The characters have clear, different voices, and there's a good amount of world-building on Zed's side, to get a real sense of the future, and the way he looks at the present. But the SF-ness of it goes away somewhat over the course of the book. Mullen had a good run of it, and there's a lot to recommend it, but I can't say he totally stuck the ending. Still, it actually all comes together well enough, and that's pretty impressive.

In the end, I don't think this quite came together as cleanly as I'd have liked, but it actually works well enough, down to some nice, real ambiguity about some of the narration. And it grapples with the consequences of doing bad things to try to keep your shining future ahead of you, along a number of different axes, and that's a rich theme to explore. I can't recommend it totally unreservedly, but it's definitely worth a try if you like some time travel in your reading diet, or some low-key piecing-it-together informational thrills. Mullen's an inventive guy; I should try more of him. But this isn't a bad place to start. Zed's a good place to end, though. ( )
  Capfox | Jan 14, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316176729, Hardcover)

Author One-on-One: Thomas Mullen and Jon Fasman
Thomas Mullen

Jon Fasman is the author of two novels, The Geographer’s Library and The Unpossessed City. He’s been taking a fiction hiatus for the past few years to cover the American South for The Economist.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:58 -0400)

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An agent from the future where all the world's problems have been solved goes back in time to ensure that every disaster throughout history runs its course.

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