Ack! Been too long since I read this and I don’t remember the details. This is basically a time travel story, but with memories being the vehicle of time travel. What if you could relive the moment of memories and change their course? That is the premise of Blake Crouch’s Recursion. The title refers to the way that time lines can keep changing as memories change.
The protagonist, Barry Sutton, has a NYPD detective who has hit a rough patch. His daughter was killed in a hit-and-run and his marriage falls apart in the aftermath. Barry has certainly seen better days. But, what if he could go back and save his daughter? How would things have changed?
The power to go back and change events is the underlying sub context. What happens to the people that develop this power? How do they use it to further their own ends?
There are some interesting plot devices that Crouch uses to both add suspense as well as wrinkles to the plot. The way time travel is used here is, to me, pretty novel. Not that I’ve read a lot of time travel stories, but as opposed to say the Back to the Future view where you directly change your future by meddling in your past, or the Marvel view in which going back splits the time line into two, Crouch takes an alternative view in which, in some ways, events overlap.
As with Dark Matter, Crouch has a way of taking interesting scientific concepts and develop a compelling plot around the idea. The idea is the core, but the plot and characters flesh it out to make it a compelling story.
At its heart, Recursion is a story about loss. Crouch explores themes of loss, what if, and second chances. At his low, Barry is wallowing in his loss, his lost chances, his what ifs. “He has wondered lately if that’s all living really is — one long goodbye to those we love.”