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The Infinite Future

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  566 ratings  ·  148 reviews
An exhilarating, original novel, set in Brazil, Idaho, and outer space, about an obsessive librarian, a down-at-heel author, and a disgraced historian who go on the hunt for a mystical, life-changing book--and find it.

The Infinite Future is a mindbending novel that melds two page-turning tales in one. In the first, we meet three broken people, joined by an obsession with a
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Penguin Press
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  566 ratings  ·  148 reviews

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Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The story is like a set of Matrushka dolls moving further and further away from the author. Wirkus introduces us to a college acquaintance Danny Laszlo who talks of translating the obscure works of Brazilian science fiction writer Eduard Salgado-MacKenzie and the long journey to uncover his rumoured manuscript called The Infinite Future which is the story of a lesbian, galactic nun recounting the life of Irena Sertorian who was a character featured in Salgado-MacKenzie's work. You get all that?

Joshua Whiting
So, there is finally such a thing as a unapologetically postmodern Mormon novel. (I mean other than The Book of Mormon itself, which kind of did polyphonic metafiction almost a century before it was cool.) Maybe contemporary metafiction like this has already been a thing in or around Mormondom and I just didn't know about it or recognize it as such. Either way, I feel like I missed the bus. I might feel a little bit jealous. (If you, reader of this review, are scoffing at my supposition that thi ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this. Excellent storytelling, great example of what you can achieve using fractalized plotting. Wirkus's characters lift off the page. Fun little book. ...more
Bon Tom
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-fiction, fiction
One of the most unusual books I've ever read. It bounces you around like flipper ball, just when you have a good guess about direction it's heading, it kicks you in the head with another plot within plot within plot. For me, the execution (full production audiobook with whole assembly of narrators) had magnetic charm that pulled me in and kept me going, enjoying every second of it. Hard to describe, for some maybe even hard to read, but if you decide to give it a chance, audio is definitely the ...more
Jan 24, 2018 marked it as to-read
Hello cover porn!

Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book, unfortunately, reminded me (a lot!) of Lafarge's The Night Ocean, and I had similar problems with it. To wit: it's a long winded diatribe concerning an esoteric text that much is made out of, but for which one would have to have an abiding interest in in the first place to find all the attending gobbledygook surrounding it of any interest. I was expecting/hoping for something more along the lines of The Saragossa Manuscript, or even Don Quixote, but alas, was sorely disappointed. Wirk ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Tim Wirkus is a talented, smart, and well educated writer. If you like stories, this is the novel for you. The infinite Future is filled with framing devices to give the main plot line an air of credibility.

Highly entertaining and action packed, except for the one section where a character named Harriet discourses on her special field Mormonism, it is an effortless escapist read. It occurs to me that the various searches in the novel are satirizing Mormonism and maybe all religions with their b
Loring Wirbel
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
When a semiotic meta-novel-within-novel begins with two Mormons on mission in Brazil, you know a unique reading experience is all but guaranteed. But when the telling of the tale brings to mind Paul LaFarge's The Night Ocean or The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, well, the fun just got multiplied. Wirkus doesn't want to provide an underlying sense of terror as LaFarge did with his backstory of H.P. Lovecraft - instead, The Infinite Future is a joyful tour de force about a quest for an elusive scienc ...more
May 10, 2018 added it
DNF at 120 pages. There's a story here, I think, but it's buried under a lot of stuff that even the characters don't seem to be very invested in. ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Almost every blurb on the back of this book uses the word audacious, and, having read it, it's easy to see why. In fact, the sheer guts of writing and publishing this makes me want to give it three stars. But in the end, it comes across as only a lukewarm version of an experimental novel.

It's a story-wrapped-within-a-story tale, but Wirkus multiplies it several times so that it's a pulpy sci-fi short story wrapped in a vaguely religious sci-fi story wrapped in a memoir wrapped in a treasure hunt
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because it was unlike anything I've ever read before.
Seriously, what did I just read? It was so weird but believable and I'm still confused but I think I really liked the sci-fi stories, maybe, well okay, yes.
Barbara McEwen
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff-speculative
Hmmm, this was a mixed bag for me. There were definitely things I liked about the novel like any of the weird, sci-fi components and the whole stories within stories within stories thing. Other aspects kind of brought it down for me. I got tired of the Mormonism debate, surely we could have halved that part and still got the point. Maybe a plus for Mormons? It definitely got rambly at times, in general. There was also this oddity of people speaking to each other but not in a realistic way; descr ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so hard. I can't wait to write about it, so stay tuned. ...more
David Harris
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked Wirkus’s first novel, _City of Brick and Shadow_, and his second novel (this one) is likewise very good. The adjectives ‘novel’ and ‘quirky’ are the best ones I can think of to describe it. It's rare for me at this time in my life to find a book I just can't put down, but this is such a book. And I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I agree with Robert, another Goodreads reviewer, that the scope of the story Wirkus tells here is probably much larger than the 390 page
lindsay r
Jul 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: sapphic, favorites, scifi
this was a meth fueled nightmare! i have extensive questions! it felt like a solid season of american horror story. i feel like if this were written by a woman it would have been like. AHS apocalypse! but instead it was a solid AHS freak show, you know? anyways. fuck the mormons but my heart goes out to the lesbian space nuns
Allie Pae
i could not physically finish this book and i’m tired of it sitting on my reading list. the author wrote the crack dream of crack dreams
Jan 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Many goodreads reviewers seem to like the first part of the book more than the second. I don't know what book they are reading, but I'm going to have to disagree.

The first part of the book was terrible. The writing was on par with the skills of a decent but not exemplary high school student and I find it difficult to believe that no one involved in the publishing of the book could have figured out that the main narrator of the book has nothing to do with the book. Seriously, there were three cha
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I absolutely loved this and found myself unable to put it down. From the other reviews it's obvious this may not be everyone's cup of tea but I think those that connect with the style and story are plunged into this tale.

Really wish there were more Sertôrian stories to read.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book was complicated, thoughtful, and engaging—and utterly unexpected. It has been quite some time since I read something that had twists and turns I couldn’t have imagined. The characters were compelling as were some of the deeper puzzles the interwoven tales unravel.
Daniel Burton
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
What just happened? That's the end?

I mean, I think it was brilliant...or crazy? As in, crazy like a fox? I don't know. I don't know what I'm supposed to think. I was glued to the story--the stories--because they're good, and then after writing 40-odd stories within stories, suddenly Tim Wirkus decides to...drop his narrative mid-beat? I don't know what he's trying to do and maybe I need to think about it more...or maybe I'm just not sophisticated and deep enough.

Okay, let me back up. If I wa
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is weird and it is my kind of weird. It has an elaborate frame story where a recent BYU grad goes to Sao Paolo to research a book he's trying to write where a librarian introduces him to the work of an obscure pulp SF writer. Many of this SF writer's stories center around a Star-Trek-like captain, Sertorian. The writer and the librarian, along with a disgruntled Mormon historian, go on a research trip to find the original author. The second half of the book consists of a novel the trio ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I should really give this book 3.5 stars, but I'm feeling generous, so I'm going with 4 stars.
I am really conflicted about this book. All in all, I enjoyed the reading experience, but some things really annoyed me along the way:
1. This is touted as a science fiction book. It's not. It's a book with some pulp science fiction internal story.
2. The whole narrative within narrative becomes real old real fast. At a certain point, I realized that character A was narrating a story where character B wa
Apr 13, 2022 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. It was an uninteresting story (the book itself) about people searching for an uninteresting story (the mysterious manuscript) written by uninteresting characters (the children) about a potentially interesting character (the nun) who wrote an uninteresting story (the Ramadamawhatever episode) about a series of uninteresting stories of space adventuring. Overwhelmingly uninteresting and needlessly nested. ...more
Ariel Jensen
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first half read as a sort of Hero’s Adventure. Told as a story within a story, it captured and held my attention until halfway through when it became straight sci-fi. I absolutely loved the depth of story layers; down and down I willingly fell. However, the sci-fi portion was entirely too long and detailed for my taste.
Leigh Anne
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Click here to read my review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. ...more
Andrew Hall
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed the first part a lot. Very interesting, complex structure, characters. I need to go back and finish reading the novel-within-the-novel at the end at some point.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Some might consider it gimmicky, others might not appreciate the unconventional plotline, but if you like the elegant paradoxes of Jorge Luis Borges, the Infinite Future is something of a homage to that kind of trippy, fantastic writing. The story is split in two – the first half about a search for a long lost manuscript written by an obscure Brazilian science fiction writer. It’s fun and the way the author describes and builds up the reputation of ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Few days back while going through my Instagram feed I came across a post by a very well known bookshop and that is how I came to know of the existence of “The Infinite Future” by Tim Wirkus. So I fretted about, thinking to myself I have already bought five books this month, can I afford to buy another? Well then the shameless me pestered a dear family member, (god bless this fellow bibliophile) who had an amazon gift card and 3 days later this baby was mine forever. So what is this novel all abo ...more
Exponent II
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-mormons
Tim Wirkus’s book The Infinite Future, a novel is set in Utah, Brazil, Idaho, and outer space, may be the truest thing you read about Mormonism in 2018. At first, the book appears to be about three companions brought together by their obsession with a forgotten Brazilian science fiction author, Eduard Salgado-MacKenzie. Danny, the most prominent narrator, is a recent BYU graduate with no prospects and a bad case of writer’s block. In his efforts to find his way out of Provo (and his post-graduat ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I tend to like books that experiment with form and genre, especially when the experiment is successful. I do think The Infinite Future succeeds at what it sets out to do: There are stories within stories, narrators framing other narrators, in an exploration of what science fiction can mean for people. As a result, there are many different plots in this book, some more consequential than others, and some left unresolved.

Coincidentally, I started reading this book shortly after my first trip t
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