In this “wild mash-up of Raymond Chandler, Philip K. Dick, and William S. Burroughs”*, a man who uses virtual reality to escape the horror of his dystopian world becomes obsessed with a mystery that could drive him mad.
Pittsburgh is John Dominic Blaxton’s home even though the city has been uninhabitable ruin and ash for the past decade. The Pittsburgh Dominic lives in is the Archive, an immersive virtual reconstruction of the city’s buildings, parks, and landmarks, as well as the people who once lived there. Including Dominic’s wife and unborn child.
When he’s not reliving every recorded moment with his wife in an endless cycle of desperation and despair, Dominic investigates mysterious deaths preserved in the Archive before Pittsburgh’s destruction. His latest cold case is the apparent murder of a woman whose every appearance is deliberately being deleted from the Archive.
Obsessed with uncovering this woman’s identity and what happened to her, Dominic follows a trail from the virtual world into reality. But finding the truth buried deep within an illusion means risking his sanity and his very existence...
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow is many things: a near-future cyberpunk thriller in the tradition of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling; a funny, gloomy meditation on technology and mental illness in the tradition of Phillip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard; a cynically outrageous mystery less in the tradition of Chandler than that of James Ellroy. A bleak, gorgeous romp through a pornographic and political American id. If books like this are the future of fiction, I'm not afraid for books at all.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sweterlitsch's strong debut takes place 10 years after a terrorist's nuclear bomb obliterates much of Pittsburgh. Dominic Braxton's pregnant wife was killed in the attack. Now he investigates insurance claims stemming from deaths using Pittsburgh's City Archive, a virtual reality memorial constructed from surveillance footage and photographs. He also uses the Archive to obsessively relive time with his wife. The case of a young woman murdered shortly before the blast leads to another "missing" woman Albion Waverly, deceased daughter of the super-rich effective ruler of the online world whose Archive presence is being systematically deleted. Dominic dives into a world where identities can be erased but crimes cannot, his virtual wife is the least he might lose, and an enemy may be his only hope of survival. Sweterlitsch takes an unusual turn in that Dominic closes in on the truth by shredding connections between virtual and real, and the more he operates in the real world, the more vivid and compelling the story becomes.
Eerie and fascinating
This is not generally my genre of choice but anything with Pittsburgh and mystery is bound to pull me in. Once I got going I had trouble putting the book down. While a couple concepts took a chapter or two to understand fully, this book was raw, honest and opened up a darker side of life that often gets overlooked. The references to Pittsburgh and DC were spot on - having lived in both I thought I was there with the characters at times. The characters are diverse and developed and it's one of the few books that I've been completely satisfied with in the end. Any of us that have felt the need to relive and revisit things in our lives may find ourselves questioning that desire when all is said and done.