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Last Year

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,557 ratings  ·  252 reviews
From the author of the bestselling and Hugo Award-winning Spin, comes an SF tale that poses searching questions about tourism and colonization

Two events made September 1st a memorable day for Jesse Cullum. First, he lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Second, he saved the life of President Ulysses S. Grant.

It's the near future, and the technology exists to open doorways into
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Tor Books
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Daniel Roy The SF conceit of "moment universes" is certainly the same as "Corrupting Dr. Nice," but I'd say that's where the comparison stops. The tone of the no…moreThe SF conceit of "moment universes" is certainly the same as "Corrupting Dr. Nice," but I'd say that's where the comparison stops. The tone of the novel, the time period, and the overall themes and ideas are unique. I wouldn't call it an homage or an inspiration, just a novel that had the same basic concept.(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  1,557 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5ish stars.

For a time travel book this is surprisingly not infuriating. And for a "sci-fi thriller" there's surprisingly more focus on characterization than action (mostly). Sure, there's the requisite doomed lovers side plot, but even that is bearable.

Probably why the time travel premise works so well is because the actual travel through time isn't much of a focus. The book takes place completely in late-19th century US where travelers from our near future have found a way to open a "mirror"
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-freebie, scifi
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

Time Travel. Alternate timelines. Dystopian themes. Action and adventure. Love story. All these themes and more integrated by Robert Charles Wilson into an intriguing story, appropriately called Last Year.

Time travel is now real! People from the 21st century having developed a way to open stable time portals to the past. Quickly, these scientific endeavors becoming monetized, as the “past” is turned into resort destinations, where — for a kingly price — people
”The clock turned minutes into seconds, today into yesterday. The boundary between past and future was called the present, Jesse thought. It was where he lived. It was where everyone lived. He took her in his arms and danced.”

As this year is coming to an end, this was a most appropriate story to read. It’s a story about leaving the past behind and start anew, about not being afraid of taking new chances. It’s also a love story between two very different people, whose relationship was doomed from
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it
3-3.5 stars. A time travelling story with a main character whose primary quality seems to be placidity. The author avoids some of the usual pitfalls of time travel stories thankfully, and also presents some ethical questions about what a future traveller should do, say and use from the past. The book was a pleasant read, but I can't say that it was particularly memorable.
ashley c
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid, fleshed-out, thought-provoking.

I love Wilson’s storytelling. He’s great at balancing all aspects of the story in relation to each other, such that there’s not one overpowering part of the story. It makes his stories really solid – good pacing, reasonable length, thrilling-enough plot, fleshed-out characters, inevitable side love story, some underlying moral that he wants to put forth about the state of the world… the whole shebang. And I appreciate it. It’s a great formula and it worked w
Sara Cutaia
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of - no, THE - best time-traveling book I've ever read. The story takes place in 1876, but people from the 21st century have traveled back in time and are making a "resort" out of the time period. Visitors are able to travel back in time - for a hefty price - and see the world as it was before. However, once this portal to the past has been opened, it is immediately changed. It will never progress into the same future from whence the travelers came. But that's ok - all of these histories are ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Starts great and despite being a bit so-so on its blurb, the narrative pull of the first few pages was so great that I kept turning them and reading; unfortunately about half on, the book turned into a political screed and we had enough of such in real life this year, while simultaneously the utter ridiculousness of the book's premise surfaced and I lost all suspension of disbelief when from a cool adventure/romance it turned into a "bad rich guy trying to conquer the universe" stuff

Seems that l
Shaun Hutchinson
This was a book full of ideas. It was about a group of people from the future who found a way into the past and set up a way to make money there. It could have explored a lot of things. How did they learn to travel to the past? What were the ramifications of people from the future traveling to the past? Instead, it decided not to explore any of the interesting ideas and instead focused on a pretty standard "adventure" type story. It wasn't bad, but I was disappointed because the last book of Wil ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I’m not sure who wrote the synopsis but it sounded like they read like a slightly different version of this story than I did.

The time-travel in this story was well done but not the real focus. No paradoxes to be found. The travel itself creates a new and separate timeline. Welcome to the multiverse.

The real story is that contraband is being smuggled from the future to the past. Jessie, a man from the past is teamed up with a woman from the future to track down the criminals. They uncover a lot m
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
An intriguing take on time travel, mainly focused on its characters, and the ethical and moral implications of influencing the past and future of a world that doesn't affect our own. Full video review: ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
A good read, though it kind of doesn't make it to where it's trying to go.

The future has opened up a window into the past. They're sending through tourists, they're opening up trade. They're selling the future to the past, and the past to the future. And they've done everything for this to run smoothly, securely, and with excellent administration.

The premise is great and well executed, and all surrounding the theme of exploitation -- the future is basically saying "Eff the Prime Directive" and i
Jamie Collins
I love a good time travel story. Opportunists from the year 2032 have established a tourist destination in 1887 Ohio. History buffs from the future come to gawk at 19th century America, while the locals come to marvel at a careful selection of futuristic wonders.

This book stands out partly because of the lack of concern over altering history: apparently there are endless parallel timelines, so nothing done in this 1887 will affect this version of 2032. As a result there are only cursory attempts
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Along my reading 'career', I've come across several authors who seem to just write exactly the way that I enjoy. It feels like just about anything they write is catered to me, in some weird way. Past members of this club have been Pierce Brown, John Scalzi, Jeff Salyards, Daniel Polansky, and more recently Sylvain Neuvel. Basically, I feel like even if these books aren't perfect, just that *something* about the way the author writes bumps them up a bit for me.

Starting with Spin, I've been on a b
Danny Tyran
Jesse, the MC, is a guy from the past (circa 1820) who works for Futurity: city including some sort of door between Jesse's time period and ours. Kemp, the Futurity's boss, stole the technology from some visitors from our future to build Futurity. All this creates a lot of trouble in Jesse's time.

As several reviewers have pointed out, this book is a mix of genres: science fiction, historical novel, thriller. As I like these 3 genres and their blend is rather successful, I liked to read it.

It is
Danielle Tremblay
I won this book in GoodReads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

This book was written expressly for me. You don't believe me ? But it contains everything I've loved most in the novels I've read: science fiction, mystery and suspense. I've been a reader of science fiction novels forever; I've even written some. And for many years, I've been reading thrillers. So, yes, this novel was written for me.

Mr Wilson is a very good author. Nothing bad to say about his writing; on the contrary. So I
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very interesting mixture of alternate history and time traveling - 1870s with present time. Other cool ideas include altering a parallel universe's past that is almost identical to ours and the monetization of time travel. The characters are done well and the plot holds up for the most part. The main theme is should we be ultra-critical of our past selves' behavior or was it just how we are/were. The venue includes the plains of Illinois, quaint towns of New England and the wild west of San Fr ...more
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Last Year is my favorite type of science fiction novel. There is time travel and there isn’t a lot of technical and scientific explanations about how the time travel was created or how it works. You just have to go with the story and trust that everything works. It’s a very entertaining story of how a portal from the near future is created and it opens onto the plains of Illinois in 1876. The portal is used as a tourist site for people from both the past and the present. Folks from the current d ...more
Shawn Deal
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: time-travel
Another fascinating and by far different time travel story. You never know what you are going to get, so I pick up each one of his novels with openness and expectation. I always get a good read, no matter where the story takes me. No other author quite does this like Robert. I love his work and loved this novel.
Sequel, please? I don't want this story to end the way it did, I want to know more. So...tell me more? In the form of a sequel? Please???
D. H.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you start reading this and are put off by the gimmicky writing style that pops up now and again in the beginning, keep going. I was put off by that too. These cheeky, snarky, look how cool I am sentences seem to be there just to keep the impatient, inexperienced reader focused long enough to make it through act one.

After going on like that, I should provided an example, and I couldn't ask for any better than the first few sentences:
Two events made the first of September a memorable day for J
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about Glocks in the 1800s. It's a story about an Iraq war vet falling in love with a man who grew up in a whore house. The characters and plot are superb. The science fiction aspects are of course minimal, it reads more like an alternate history. Without giving too much away, it literally is an alternate history!

Classic to Robert Charles Wilson, there are some dubious moral lessons. For example, the capitalist isn't a bad guy, but he gets sidled with some very contrived folly
Horia Ursu
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid work by one of my favourite writers. Robert Charles Wilson approaches again the theme of time travel, from a new and interesting angle, as he's previously done before in some of his novels I had the chance to read (The ChronolithsChronoliths, A Bridge of Years, Darwinia). This time, what he chose to examine is (another) what if: a meeting between twenty-first century people and nineteenth century people, as the travelers from a future (very similar to our present) make of the past a touris ...more
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have tended to underrate SF author Wilson. I enjoy his books but often don’t see how good they are, perhaps a result of being deep in the story. Last Year is about time travel. Forget the whole "we must not perturb the timeline" directive. What if the time travelers don't give a hoot about the ripple effects of their actions? What if they wantonly blab about the future and throw their technology around, all while trying to make a quick buck? And here the bucks are made in both selling the past ...more
Garrison Nelson
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solid main character

I would recommend this book to any individual who enjoys a entertaining read in a theoretical world of remarkable construct. Jesse is a fantastic main character who displays strength and ferocity mixed with the pride and honor one hopes they themselves could display. I truly enjoyed this book!
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pretty good, but where does it rank?

1. Affinities
2. Chronoliths
3. Spin
4. Other two Spin novels.
5. Last Year
6. Burning Paradise
7. Darwinia
8. Julian Comstock
9. Blind Lake
10. Other RCW books I've yet to read.

Overall, good author. Recommended.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, that was a dandy read, even if the plot drifts into somewhat disappointing directions in the final third. The concept is great and fairly original. While the idea of time travel tourism is not new, Wilson does a remarkable job in making time travel the ultimate in cultural commodification. This is possible in part because the novel deals really with only a sort of time travel. The travel is not to the past of one's own world but to a parallel world, the history of which necessarily diverge ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, fiction
This book has an excellent premise, a good plot and some great characters, which is pretty much par for the course with a Robert Charles Wilson novel. This one is not quite as bleak as some of the others, like Spin, Julian Comstock or The Chronoliths, which is refreshing. It is similar both in tone and in theme to A Bridge of Years.

One thing that's nice about this is that it's one of the rare time travel stories where the urgency and nature of the plot takes into account what "time travel" would
Bryan Alkire
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nice take on time travel…it involves the MWI theory so the idea isn’t as cliched as it could be. The book moves along for the most part, though the middle of the book slows down a bit. The writing is readable and the plot makes sense, though I’m not sure how 19th century one of the characters is…Speaking of characters they’re all realistic and distinct and for the most part, sound like the rea they come from, always an issue for me when reading history-based fiction. The book met my expectations ...more
I loved this book. It's a time travel suspense thriller, set in one version of an 1876-77 Illinois, San Francisco, and New York. It's told from the point of view of Jesse Cullum, a 'local' who works for the City of Futurity, which has been set up as a sort of vacation theme park for wealthy people from our near future, who have discovered the ability to open up a portal to the past.

The ending is satisfying, but open-ended enough to allow me to hope for a sequel.
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Time Travel: LAST YEAR: March & April 2017 49 109 Apr 23, 2017 09:54AM  

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I've been writing science fiction professionally since my first novel A Hidden Place was published in 1986. My books include Darwinia, Blind Lake, and the Hugo Award-winning Spin. My newest novel is The Affinities (April 2015).

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