Final Days by Gary Gibson

Tor, 2011, 373p.

 Final Days cover

Set in 2235, this is an unusual take on the apocalypse story. The time-honoured British approach to such a tale typically focuses on the post-apocalypse scenario. By way of contrast Gibson has his disaster unfold in front of us. To this end he employs the novel foreshadowing method of letting us and his characters (by viewing recordings from the future) know what will happen before it actually does in “real” time. The McGuffin is a series of tethered wormholes that allow interstellar travel but also act as time machines through which the future can be observed or even intrude into the present. This raises the concept of a kind of predestination as attempts to prevent the destruction of Earth seem foredoomed. Mitchell Stone, who has “died” and been resurrected by some process of the “Founders” who have left a network of wormholes behind them when they departed to the far future where these connections no longer exist, says such tied wormholes fix future history and pre-empt free will. The disaster – initiated by a device being brought back through a wormhole – will potentially leave millions dead but he is instrumental in its genesis and claims it is an attempt to “save” everyone and liberate them from this lack of choice. This is not how things appear to the others, though.

At one point the exigencies of the plot require some of the characters to take a trip to the Moon in a replica of a Saturn V. This is a curious authorial decision as in a very much plot driven, action-heavy tale where by that stage time is of the essence, the days-long journey does tend to hold up the story somewhat.

In a story such as this characterisation is not the essential point. There is not much fleshing out here, except in the coda, but it is a page turner. Another plus point is that we have no silly names such as Gibson employed in his Shoal sequence.

Span count: one. (Though there is a “spun” later on.)

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