Monday, November 18, 2019

Here and Now and Then, by Mike Chen (author), Cary Hite (narrator)

Harlequin Audio, January 2019

Kin Stewart is a time-traveling secret agent, charged with protecting us all against timeline corruption. Unfortunately, he's a time-traveling secret agent who got stranded in the late 1990s on his last assignment, and has had to survive the last eighteen years or so, while his memories of his past life, in 2142, fade. Or not really fade, so much as decay, because the human mind isn't built to remember two different lives in two different times.

He's become a computer network administrator, for an online game company. He has married Heather, a lawyer, and they have a teenage daughter, Miranda.

But it's all coming apart, as his mind loses even more of his memories, and he has crushing headaches, blackouts, and over-reactions. PTSD from his time in the Special Forces, he tells his family. But he refuses to get help, because he's afraid too much will come out.

Then a strange man turns up, a man out of his past. Or his future. Markus, his retrieval agent, eighteen years late. What happened is soon established, but the real question, for Kin, is what happens next. For Markus, though, it's simple. Kin has to come back to 2142 with him, leaving his family behind. And not just for temporal corruption reasons. Kin won't live much longer, anyway, as his mind keeps decaying and causing physical symptoms the early 21st century doesn't have the means to treat.

Also, Kin has someone waiting for him back in 2142, and she's Markus's sister.

It's from this point that things start getting very, very complicated. It's not just the effects of time travel, and it's not just the consequences for Kin's 21st century family. It's also the complicated tangle of relationships, his family now and his family then, and how they affect each other, and whether the Time Corruption Bureau can be induced to ignore the existence of Kin's daughter, Miranda, who is a time corruption all by herself, just by existing.The characters here are rounded and compelling, and their dilemmas feel very real. And Chen brings it all to a satisfying conclusion.

Highly recommended.

I borrowed this audiobook via Scribd.

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