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Last Year

Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 11 hrs and 21 mins
4 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Two events made September first a memorable day for Jesse Cullum. First, he lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Second, he saved the life of President Ulysses S. Grant.

In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson's Last Year, the technology exists to open doorways into the past - but not our past, not exactly. Each "past" is effectively an alternate world, identical to ours but only up to the date on which we access it. And a given "past" can be reached only once. After a passageway is open, it's the only road to that particular past; once closed, it can't be reopened.

A passageway has been opened to a version of late 19th-century Ohio. It's been in operation for most of a decade, but it's no secret on either side of time. A small city has grown up around it to entertain visitors from our time, and many locals earn a good living catering to them. But like all such operations, it has a shelf life; as the "natives" become more sophisticated, their version of the "past" grows less attractive as a destination.

Jesse Cullum is a native. And he knows the passageway will be closing soon. He's fallen in love with a woman from our time, and he means to follow her back - no matter whose secrets he has to expose in order to do it.

©2016 Robert Charles Wilson (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

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Profile Image for Pree Bee
  • Pree Bee
  • 05-05-2018

didn't think I would like it...

I didn't think I would like it, however I had spent the credit so I better at least try an hour.
and then I was hooked. not only is the writing interesting but the concept was even more so. the ethics and philosophy behind time travel, corporations, how science is used, when people think they are doing good but are actually doing harm were all very interesting and emails topics to me. I wanted to go deeper into it.

the lighter parts, ie. there sharing of future music with ppl from the 1880s was so enjoyable. I would have wanted to hear more on it. the simple use of language change from the 1880s to now was also so fun to see as the main character and Elizabeth interacted as well as others.

Scott Brick did an amazing job narrating. one of my favs.

I'm giving it 4 stars, because... I want more. and the ending left me hanging. sequel?

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Jayde
  • Jayde
  • 01-02-2018

Interesting at least

Don't know if I read it wrong or what but this was not what I expected. I thought I was getting a story about time travel into different versions of the past.
This story is from the perspective of one of the people in the past where a time portal has been set up and a city has been built around it. There is no time travel taking place. Only the interaction of people from the future with people from the past in a specific setting for a specified time.

With that said... This was an excellent read. Enjoyed the story and the premise was good and believable.

The narrator did a good job as well. Well written and well read.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • kwdayboise (Kim Day)
  • 18-04-2017

Great Action in a Time Travel Story

It’s ironic that what is probably the least likely of science fiction tropes, time travel, also offers some of the richest possibilities in the genre, with the possible exception of alternate history, which runs along the same lines but can only go one direction.

Robert Charles Wilson has created in this latest book a future universe in which time travel to the past has become possible, though the source of this boon is mysterious and debated. Some believe the mirror-like path to the past was created by a combination of academic and industrial knowhow. Others suspect that humans from the far future brought the technology with them and those future humans are now captives in Area 51.

In any case, the window is now in the hands of a corporation which runs Futurity City. The corporation profits in multiple ways. People from the current timeline can pay a hefty fee to travel back to the past to spend time there. The man who runs the city also works with the “locals” in the past, promising them modern technology such as medical cures for five years of access to that timeline. Although it’s thought that the timelines being visited are alternate realities, so that changes can’t affect the future, it’s been decided that five years is the maximum allowable time to avoid creating distortions in history. Through these contacts a great deal of gold from the past also manages to make its way into the corporation’s coffers.

Jesse Collum is a security guard, a local working in Futurity City, who has been assigned guard duty for a visit from President U. S. Grant. He manages to stop a gunman who has brought a weapon from the future, something forbidden, to attempt to assassinate Grant. An investigation into the origins of that gun takes Jesse into his own past in San Francisco where he learns some ugly secrets about Futurity City as it begins to crumble.

Wilson has written some amazing action scenes into this book with a broad variety of heroes and villains, some from the future but many from his own time period.

The setting allows Wilson to explore social differences between the 1870s and the future. To Jesse’s eyes the future does not seem much better with the exception of medical advances, and to many other locals the future, with it’s mingling of races, feminism, and gay marriages sounds like a horror. So the reader is also challenged to face and assess modern progress with a “ripping read” as they say for a reward.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • NMwritergal
  • 09-12-2016

I RCW keeps writing for years to come

I discovered Robert Charles Wilson some 25 years ago and have read all his books--I started with Memory Wire (loved it). It's a pity his earlier books aren't on audio. Some of his books I like and some I love, but he's about the only author (in any genre) who I can count on to at least deliver a book I enjoy, and when you read/listen to about 300 books a year, this is a pretty big deal.

This one I liked. It has his usual melancholy tone, characters fully developed, plot about more than action/adventure--though there is always that. He's always thinking deeply about something in his writing (technology, social issues, psychological issues, etc.) and then builds a story around it.

I appreciate that a piece of the story is always about a relationship--which is NEVER something stupid like insta-love and uses none of the horrible romance tropes.

Ok, I'm now going to listen to Bridge of Years, which I read in 1991 or so when it first came out. I recall liking that one very much...

20 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Andrew Pollack
  • Andrew Pollack
  • 13-01-2017

Time Travel w/o Paradox Issues

Suppose you could go back and change things and it didn't matter? What are the ethics of a time travel theme park? As always, Wilson explores the concept from the standpoint of human society interacting with something new. There's a solid plot and great characters here struggling with their own lives in the midst of the mix of old and new. What does our modern society look like to someone from the US just after the Civil War? How do our 21st century expectations fare in the era of the wild west? Come visit the past -- but best you get your immunizations first, watch where you eat, and stay on the marked paths.

As always, Scott Brick does a great job with the narration. No cliffhangers here. This story comes to a conclusion but leaves plenty of room for a follow-up. I look forward to that very much.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Mark S Bowley
  • Mark S Bowley
  • 19-12-2018

Shitty ending

Ughhh... this book was great... Slow at times but fast at others it would have been nice to have some closure no spoiler alerts but there really is none

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for jennifer wilson
  • jennifer wilson
  • 05-07-2018

meehhh

the description about the story is not exactly how it ended up going. It could have been so much more with the storyline. But it wasn't. Really didn't like the ending at all. I wouldn't recommend wasting the hours it takes to listen to this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Elisabeth Carey
  • Elisabeth Carey
  • 18-06-2018

An interesting twist on time travel

Jesse Cullum is one of the local employees of the city of Futurity, a man of the 1870s hired first to help build and then to be a security guard for the city.

Futurity is a city built by people from the 21st century, who have technology that allows them to travel into, not their own past, but into an alternate past, a past that appears to be theirs, but in which changes won't affect their own time. The technology is said to be a product of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and licensed to a wealthy industrialist named Kemp when it proved to have no military value. He's using it to run tours of the 1870s for the well-heeled of the 21st century, while offering the natives of the 1870s a carefully selective view of the 21st century. The gateway, the "mirror," will only remain open for five years, allegedly to avoid having too much impact on this alternate world, and it's now the start of Futurity's last year.

Jesse Cullum has been a dedicated and capable employee. He's saving his earnings to help support his sister Phoebe in San Francisco. He generally likes the 21st century people, but there's a distance created by the gulf in experience and attitudes.

Then Jesse prevents the assassination of President Ulysses S. Grant on a visit to Futurity, and the weapon turns out to be a Glock, which should never, ever have gotten into the hands of a man who proves to be a local. Jesse is about to get much better acquainted with his 21st century employers and fellow employees, and at the same time discover some unpleasant secrets about Kemp's plans, the true origins of the technology, and why Kemp has enemies that include his own daughter.

Jesse and his contemporaries knew they were being exploited, but they assumed it was within normal limits. They have no idea of the truth, and Jesse is about to find out. He's assigned to work with Elizabeth DePaul, an Iraq War veteran. It's an education for him, and she gets an education in the 19th century outside of Futurity as they investigate the presence of Glocks in the hands of locals.

This is a really interesting story, an interesting twist on time travel, and really interesting, compelling characters. Neither time frame is portrayed as "better," though each has, from the viewpoints of its natives, some real advantages.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for J. Billings
  • J. Billings
  • 30-04-2018

a book that reaches far beyond it's premise

As someone who can't stand most historical fiction, I was surprised at how engaging this book was. it's worth a try even if the synopsis doesn't sound appealing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Steve
  • Steve
  • 18-07-2017

Man cannot be trusted with time travel

What made the experience of listening to Last Year the most enjoyable?

It was an exciting story because of the general subject matter and because of local happenings.

What did you like best about this story?

The surprises and the way messing with time didn't cause any massive time paradoxes.

Which scene was your favorite?

There were a few. Showing Thomas Edison his inventions was neat.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

It was a different type of time travel story, but it was enjoyable to listen to.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • carl
  • 25-06-2017

Very enjoyable

Not amazing and not quite what I expected but it kept me comming back for more if there was a book 2 I think I'd buy it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Kevin
  • Kevin
  • 18-03-2018

Wrong focus

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Robert Charles Wilson completists & western fans

Has Last Year put you off other books in this genre?

No

What three words best describe Scott Brick’s performance?

Excellent, involving & professional

Any additional comments?

I felt it had an interesting idea but then focused on the wrong things. It developed characters that weren’t relevant & followed a storyline that didn’t take advantage of the concept

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  • Rob Hymer
  • 22-10-2017

Return to form for Wilson

After a few dodgy titles, this feels like a return to form for Wilson. Good story, good narrator and good production, in all highly recommended.

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Profile Image for Jenny
  • Jenny
  • 09-03-2017

Excellent - really enjoyed this

This is a terrific novel. It's sort of like Westworld with time-travel. There are crimes to be solved, a love interest, great character development and a race against time before the passage from the future to the past closes forever.

I really, really enjoyed it. People from our century landing in 1879, stunning them with our inventions (iPhones, helicopters etc) and exploiting them, of course. The 1879ers are by turns outraged, bemused and generally entertained by 21st century notions of inclusivity and tolerance. Perfect ending for a sequel.

Of course, part of the appeal for me is Scott Brick, probably the most brilliant narrator I have ever listened to. If you haven't read The Passage trilogy, well, you have a treat in store.

Highly recommended. Pure pleasure.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful