Book Review: Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

Cover of the book Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson
Last Year
by Robert Charles Wilson
Tor, 2016

This review was first published by Booklist on November 15, 2016.

People from the twenty-first century have opened a portal in rural Illinois that allows them to visit 1877. They’ve built a tourist resort called the City of Futurity, where wealthy individuals can experience the past and locals can catch a sanitized glimpse of the future. Jesse Cullum is a native of 1877 who works for the City. A man with a violent history, he meets and falls for a woman from the future. Meanwhile, someone is smuggling future technology into the past and sowing discord toward the City. Soon enough, it all starts to fall apart. There’s a lot going on in the latest from Hugo Award–winning Wilson. It’s an alternate-history novel, a time-travel story, and a whodunit all in one. It explores parallel universes, corporate greed, and culture clashes while critiquing the entitlement of modern society and our tendency to romanticize the past. Wilson wrangles all these threads with skill and vividly renders the reality of the past. The story is well paced, builds to an epic crisis, and makes for a satisfying read.

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