This is a fun read that moves swiftly and well. Time travel was never so compelling nor witchcraft so interesting. I’ve read most of Neal Stephenson’s books and this one is just as good as the rest. Try it. You’ll like it.
I enjoyed the hard-science aspects of this book, despite its unusual number of typos (proof that even mainstream publishing needs line editing) and Sawyer’s penchant for callous heroes. I was lucky in that I’d never heard of the TV series (until I read some of the other reviews at Amazon) and so was not distracted by comparing the book to it.
By callous heroes, I mean the Japanese engineer’s decision to leave her dead child in the street (to the care of strangers) so she can get back to work. It was of a piece with the hero of Calculating God who decides that his spiritual enrichment justifies leaving his children to grow up without him. It’s really just Sawyer’s hell-bent determination to move his plot at whatever cost.
But the physics-philosophy of this tale—Is the future immutable? Is free will an illusion?—is worth the effort to overlook the flaws. Even the Canadian author’s usual digs at American gun ownership and lack of socialized medicine. When authors like Sawyer reach a certain peak of fame, not only does the editing of their books decline, but they feel free to push their politics. Pity that.