Monday, September 12, 2011


Flashback by Dan Simmons

I'm now convinced that Dan Simmons could write a great book in any genre he were to choose. His catalog of books has spanned the genre spectrum and all that I've read so far, I consider among the best. With Flashback Simmons has written a dystopian novel that is going to stick in my mind for quite some time.

The economic downturn of the early 21st century was only the beginning of a downward cycle that eventually leaves the United States fractured and near total economic and political collapse. What remains of the country after the secession of Texas and the loss of power over the Southwestern portion of the country to Mexico, is a country with no future and no hope for change.

But it's flashback that has done the most damage to the country and many other parts of the world. Flashback is a drug that allows its users to relive the best moments of their lives as many times as they wish. Most Americans spend eight hours or more every day under the drug's influence - including Nick Bottom, a former Denver homicide detective who five years ago lost his wife in a bizarre car accident. He now spends all of his time and money on flashback in order to fill the void her death left him with.

Nick is hired by a Japanese tycoon to reinvestigate the murder of his son, a murder that Nick had previously investigated before he lost his job with the Denver police, but had failed to solve. Using flashback to relive suspect interviews and revisit crime scenes, Nick discovers something that went unnoticed during the original investigation six years earlier - his wife had been present at the scene of the murder minutes before it took place. In fact, when Nick begins to reinterview key figures in the investigation, he learns that his wife had spoken with many of them about the murder years earlier. What connection did his now-dead wife have to the murder, and was her death a result?

Flashback is a great book! It reminded me a little bit of some of the stories written by Philip K. Dick (Bladerunner, Minority Report). It has a gritty, defeated, and eerily plausible feel to it that I will remember long after the details of the plot leave me.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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