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Last year by Robert Charles Wilson
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Last year (edition 2016)

by Robert Charles Wilson

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18911121,460 (3.73)4
"Two 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 the past--but not our past, not exactly. Each "past" is effectively an alternate world, identical to ours but only up to the date on which we access it. And a given "past" can only be reached once. After a passageway is open, it's the only road to that particular past; once closed, it can't be reopened. A passageway has been opened to a version of late 19th-century Ohio. It's been in operation for most of a decade, but it's no secret, on either side of time. A small city has grown up around it to entertain visitors from our time, and many locals earn a good living catering to them. But like all such operations, it has a shelf life; as the "natives" become more sophisticated, their version of the "past" grows less attractive as a destination. Jesse Cullum is a native. And he knows the passageway will be closing soon. He's fallen in love with a woman from our time, and he means to follow her back--no matter whose secrets he has to expose in order to do it"--… (more)
Member:Scottysteensma
Title:Last year
Authors:Robert Charles Wilson
Info:New York : Tor, 2016.
Collections:Your library
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Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
It was a fun read but I wish there'd be more: more context, more background, more "stuff" beyond the plot. It's all mentioned in passing but it is never fleshed out or fully integrated into the story beyond the rather stereotypical "girl rebels against her father" trope. ( )
  SocProf9740 | Jul 11, 2021 |
I'd love to read more about the logistics & morals of Futurity. I'd be reading all the think pieces about Futurity's management and Kemp's greed and the ethics of taking advantage of the past for monetary gain. Also the ethics of those who would try to fix this universe by doing things like killing Hitler. You're already changing the historical path just by being there, so you can't know that something like the Holocaust would even still happen, can you justify murdering someone innocent (like Hitler's father) in order to prevent something that might not even happen? Plus the information given about the ongoing mistreatment of the black and Asian population in the States seemed to just spark more lynchings so, at least short-term, that was counter-productive. Maybe long-term it would spark an earlier civil rights movement and give abolitionists and anti-racists the confidence of knowing for sure they're on the right side of history, but then again, they're being judged by the inhabitants of an alternate future.
I liked following Jesse's story, but I also want to see more from the perspective of someone who's going through more of a culture shock from seeing the decadent future. And more from the activists protesting Futurity from the 21st century. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
Wilson, Robert Charles. Last Year. Tor, 2016.
Robert Charles Wilson is a writer whose work always impresses me. Last Year is a time travel story with an unusual twist or two and lead characters, whose like I have not seen since Kage Baker’s Company series. It is 1876 in a timeline that is a lot like ours. In the Illinois prairie, people from the twenty-first century have opened a time portal and built a theme park meant to be abandoned after two years. Tourists from an alternate future can gawk at passenger pigeons and bison, and nineteenth-century locals can visit a museum that hints at things to come without giving them enough detail to stifle their creativity. Our protagonists are a nineteenth-century local man and a twenty-first-century woman who is a veteran of modern brushfire wars. Together they work undercover to stifle some transtemporal smuggling. The story is entertaining throughout and suggests some intriguing ethical problems with time travel, even if you don’t have to worry about the grandfather paradox. ( )
  Tom-e | Apr 14, 2020 |
Jesse Cullum is one of the local employees of the city of Futurity, a man of the 1870s hired first to help build and then to be a security guard for the city.

Futurity is a city built by people from the 21st century, who have technology that allows them to travel into, not their own past, but into an alternate past, a past that appears to be theirs, but in which changes won't affect their own time. The technology is said to be a product of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and licensed to a wealthy industrialist named Kemp when it proved to have no military value. He's using it to run tours of the 1870s for the well-heeled of the 21st century, while offering the natives of the 1870s a carefully selective view of the 21st century. The gateway, the "mirror," will only remain open for five years, allegedly to avoid having too much impact on this alternate world, and it's now the start of Futurity's last year.

Jesse Cullum has been a dedicated and capable employee. He's saving his earnings to help support his sister Phoebe in San Francisco. He generally likes the 21st century people, but there's a distance created by the gulf in experience and attitudes.

Then Jesse prevents the assassination of President Ulysses S. Grant on a visit to Futurity, and the weapon turns out to be a Glock, which should never, ever have gotten into the hands of a man who proves to be a local. Jesse is about to get much better acquainted with his 21st century employers and fellow employees, and at the same time discover some unpleasant secrets about Kemp's plans, the true origins of the technology, and why Kemp has enemies that include his own daughter.

Jesse and his contemporaries knew they were being exploited, but they assumed it was within normal limits. They have no idea of the truth, and Jesse is about to find out. He's assigned to work with Elizabeth DePaul, an Iraq War veteran. It's an education for him, and she gets an education in the 19th century outside of Futurity as they investigate the presence of Glocks in the hands of locals.

This is a really interesting story, an interesting twist on time travel, and really interesting, compelling characters. Neither time frame is portrayed as "better," though each has, from the viewpoints of its natives, some real advantages.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Different kind of time travel book and I enjoyed it. This isn't great literature, just a pretty good story. One of the focuses of the book actually concerns the time-traveling actions of these visitors from the future. Does it make it any more okay morally for them to profit from the past? Starts great and the narrative pull of the first few pages was powerful. About half way,, the book turned into a draggy thing with many side plots that went nowhere and did not contribute to the ending. this author has promise for my future reading. ( )
  buffalogr | Sep 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Charles Wilsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graziolo, MichaelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Folio SF (621)
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Epigraph
Calm as that second summer which precedes
The first fall of snow,
In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds,
The City bides the foe.
-Henry Timrod, "Charleston"
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Two events made the first of September a memorable day for Jesse Cullum.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Two 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 the past--but not our past, not exactly. Each "past" is effectively an alternate world, identical to ours but only up to the date on which we access it. And a given "past" can only be reached once. After a passageway is open, it's the only road to that particular past; once closed, it can't be reopened. A passageway has been opened to a version of late 19th-century Ohio. It's been in operation for most of a decade, but it's no secret, on either side of time. A small city has grown up around it to entertain visitors from our time, and many locals earn a good living catering to them. But like all such operations, it has a shelf life; as the "natives" become more sophisticated, their version of the "past" grows less attractive as a destination. Jesse Cullum is a native. And he knows the passageway will be closing soon. He's fallen in love with a woman from our time, and he means to follow her back--no matter whose secrets he has to expose in order to do it"--

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