“Part murder mystery and part mind-bending time-travel story. . . . Full of imagination” (Booklist).
Say you’re a time traveler and you’ve already toured the entirety of human history. After a while, the world might lose a little of its luster. That’s why this time traveler celebrates his birthday partying with himself. Every year, he travels to an abandoned hotel in New York City in 2071, the hundredth anniversary of his birth, and drinks twelve-year-old Scotch (lots of it) with all the other versions of who he has been and who he will be. Sure, the party is the same year after year, but at least it’s one party where he can really, well, be himself.
The year he turns thirty-nine, though, the party takes a stressful turn. Before he even makes it into the grand ballroom for a drink he encounters the body of his forty-year-old self, dead of a gunshot wound to the head. As the older versions of himself at the party point out, the onus is on him to figure out what went wrong—he has one year to stop himself from being murdered, or they’re all goners.
As he follows clues that he may or may not have willingly left for himself, he discovers rampant paranoia and suspicion among his younger selves, and a frightening conspiracy among the Elders. Most complicated of all is a haunting woman, possibly named Lily, who turns up at the party this year—the first person he’s ever seen there besides himself. For the first time, he has something to lose. Here’s hoping he can save some version of his own life.
“A clever enough premise that it could be straight out of a Philip K. Dick or Kurt Vonnegut novel.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A dark hybrid of Paul Auster and the film Memento, complete with a mysterious love interest . . . Best of all, however, is the evocation of mid-21st century New York as a melancholy, dilapidated place high in entropy, cluttered with ruined buildings, and weirdly infested with parrots.” —Toronto Star
In this literary excursion into sci-fi, a time traveler has celebrated his birthday every year for almost two decades with past and future versions of himself in an abandoned Manhattan hotel in 2071. What makes his 39th birthday different is the fact that he stumbles across the corpse of his 40-year-old self. Because of a temporal blackout in their memories, none of the future versions of himself, known as Elders, knows what has happened, so they charge the time traveler with finding out how his 40-year-old version will be killed. Further complicating the mystery is the surprising presence of Lily, a lone female party guest. To understand her presence, the time traveler goes back in time to locate Lily at a previous point in her life, in a transformed, postapocalyptic version of the city, ultimately following her back to a hotel, where their entwined fates are revealed. Ferrell (Numb) has written a brain-teasing, paradox-defying, time travel mystery in the tradition of such pretzel-bending-logic classics as Fritz Leiber's The Big Time and Robert A. Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps." But with a limited cast of characters, the reader eventually tires of being trapped in this hall of mirrors with a necessarily narcissistic protagonist, who, in the end, is less than the sum of his many selves.