In Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, a complicated future awaits, complete with invasive technology, time travel tourism, and a world stripped of natural resources. In this masterfully written novel, the author has given us a fascinating set of characters determined to help the world regain the life it once knew by visiting a past filled with life. By raising questions on ethics, generational differences and a world run by banks, Robson has given us a glimpse of a possible future our current reality could become.
Why I Loved It
There are two narratives running side-by-side. An ancient narrative of a king preparing to fight a monster. A new future with a decimated landscape just starting to accept people again. Both gradually work toward each other until the final chapter, revealing a surprising ending that pairs the past and the future together. I loved the foreshadowing and what it added to the story. It brought the knowing-the-future aspect of time travel front and center, giving the reader a leg up over the characters.
A Complicated Future
There’s a lot going on in this future, with mention of plagues and living underground for decades (maybe centuries). The world is dead when they emerge and people like the main character are constantly working to bring it back to life. The older people clash heads with the younger, their goals vastly different for the world around them. After decades back in the world, they’ve already devolved into cities completely reliant on the whims of bankers and financial analysts. This version of the future is as timely as it gets. Much like today, the older generations want to continue with the status quo while the younger generations want to branch out for themselves. This conflict between vastly different generations with opposite worldviews is a telling critique of the world we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Time travel isn’t met with awe or derision from this population, but with curiosity and a desire to become a tourist in ancient Egypt or any number of past civilizations. It has of course been monetized, keeping in line with the world run by bankers, and these characters are given a chance to use the technology for good in order to help the world rebuild using surveys of a past filled with plant, animal and human life. They take their actions for granted due to the creation of time loops that don’t affect the future. It makes for an important ethical question on how we should act toward people who are thrust into this future reality without choice. Does life, and their world, matter if they don’t affect the future? There are varying opinions among the crew.
Crazy prosthetics. Internal monitoring systems that play with the body’s chemistry. Fast traveling pods that resort round-the-world travel to a matter of hours. Drones and robots and 3D printers that create anything the scientists might need. It’s brilliant and seamlessly integrated into the story. Everything is necessary, nothing is added just for the cool or wow effect. I’m very impressed with how hard the author worked to create this fully developed world and the necessities the population relies on. Well done.
A Rift Between Characters
These characters are fully realized, complete with flaws and vastly different ideologies that mirror their experiences in the world. The older main character is jaded toward the younger generation due to the hard work she’s had to commit to in order to create a world for them. The younger generation wants to believe in the world again, to move beyond hard work to understand life, as is portrayed by a younger member of the team. The corporation man plays an expected role, holding money and the company agenda over the goals and ideals of the crew. A final crew member simply wants to see a horse. It’s an evolving atmosphere with this small group and it makes for a very engaging and thought-provoking narrative.
Scientist gets a chance to bid on an epic time-travel project. Teams up with friends and colleagues to win a place on a new type of expedition. Heads to the past in search of the answer to rebuilding their lifeless world. Encounters unexpected obstacles that transform their place in the future (and the past).
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