‘A Fractured Infinity’ by Nathan Tavares: A Book Review.

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What Is A Fractured Infinity?

A multiversal love story filled with portal shenanigans and multiple instances of the same people!

Our story opens in the nearish future. Climate change has ravaged Earth but technology has advanced and humanity and the planet exist in an uneasy equilibrium. Documentary filmmaker Hayes Figueiredo is putting the finishing touches to his latest work when he is interrupted by Yusuf Hassan. Yusuf claims that Hayes is the key to understanding the Envisioner, a device that can predict the future.

Yusuf takes Hayes to a top-secret research facility where he discovers not only does such a device exist, but also that he invented it. Well, not this Hayes Figueiredo. A different one from another universe. Not only did he make it, but he deliberately sent it to this Earth, but why? In the machine’s reality, Hayes and Yusuf are married, but this Earth’s (which I’ll call Earth 1) Hayes, doesn’t recognize the man he sees in the footage. For a start, Earth 1 Hayes knows little about physics. 

Nevertheless, he undoubtedly has an affinity for the machine. Together with Yusuf and a dedicated but aloof physicist, Kaori, Hayes tries to unpick the Envisioner’s secrets. As Earth 1’s Hayes and Yusuf fall for one another, Hayes discovers that Yusuf’s life might be in danger. A split-second decision sends events and multiverses spiraling into one another. For Earth 1’s Hayes, whilst there might be a multitude of realities, there is only one Yusuf, and he will protect him at all costs. 

Why Read A Fractured Infinity?

The multiverse offers limitless opportunities for speculative fiction. Nathan Tavares makes great use of these opportunities over the course of Fractured Infinity, treating us to both the bizarre and the mundane. There are many takes on how Earth might improve itself in the coming years, as well as Earths with dramatically different histories to our own. 

Against this backdrop is a love story of epic proportions. We see multiple versions of the same relationship, but it is Earth 1’s Yusuf and Hayes that takes center stage. Can they keep their love alive across the multiverse, and more importantly, should they? What exactly is one relationship worth? And should you weigh that cost against people that you don’t know? People that don’t even exist in your reality. Fractured Infinity tries to answer this question.

The novel isn’t perfect. I found it a little long in the middle, but the first and final thirds are a fascinating take on how infinite universes might come about, be investigated, and finally, what it might be like to travel between them. The novel poses questions about what it is that makes, you, “You.” More interestingly, what makes the person you love, the person you love, and how might that change if different environmental factors were in play? With an infinite number of possible versions of the happy couple out there, it might make you view your other half in an entirely different way. 

In addition to the central romance there is lots of comsic trickery and intellectual skulduggery. The novel is told from Hayes perspective, after the fact, and he alludes early on to whom the villain of the piece might be. At least from his perspective. How reliable a narrator Hayes is, is a question you’ll be pondering throughout the novel and probably long afterwards too. There might be infinite possibilities in this novel, but as readers we gain only one perspective. 

All in all, A Fractured Infinity is fine progressive modern science fiction. I’m not sure when I last read an SF novel that was less about the science and more about romantic life of its two central characters. “Romantic life” is not quite the right way to phrase it; this is not Mills & Boon in space. My own 30 year relantionship is not romantic as such (not anymore!), but is filled with drama, even if only on a small scale. This is what Nathan Tavares brings to A Fractured Infinity with Hayes and Yusuf, set against a backdrop of world-hopping and universe ending-calamaties. It’s this juxtaposition of real-life relationships and ground-breaking technology that makes the novel shine.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of A Fractured Infinity you can do so here, in the US and, here, in the UK. 

If you’d like to check out my other book reviews, you can do so, here.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review. 

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