A Fractured Infinity (Nathan Tavares) – Book Review

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you’d made a different decision? If you’d have quit your job instead of sticking it out, if you’d have asked out that person you had a crush on, if you’d have decided to take that trip you were always thinking of? Chances are that there’s a universe out there where you did make those choices, where there’s a version of you living a very similar life, and a version of you living a completely different one (if multiverse theory is correct, at least). A Fractured Infinity, the latest release from Titan Books, takes readers on a journey into the multiverse to discover some of these possibilities.

The story begins on a deserted beach, bright pink sand making its way towards a rich, turquoise ocean. We meet Hayes Figueiredo, a young filmmaker with a story to tell. Speaking to his camera, he begins to explain how his life was forever changed, how he met the man he loves, and how he now sits on a beach on another Earth whilst his own world faces annihilation, and how it’s all his fault.

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From here we jump backwards in time, meeting Hayes as he’s secluded away at a creator’s retreat, having locked himself away in a small cabin to edit his latest documentary film; a piece designed to honour the memory of his deceased friend, a drag performing synthetic person who lost their life whilst fighting for equal rights. When Hayes is approached by a group of people, he meets Yusuf Hassan, a handsome young scientist, and finds himself whisked away to a secret facility out in the desert.

Believing that he’s been recruited for his film making skills, or possibly just being abducted by the government for nefarious reasons, he’s shocked when he’s presented with video footage of himself working with a strange device. Shocked, because even though the man in the footage is him, he has no memory of it at all. Hayes is let in on one of the most guarded secrets on the planet: that humanity discovered a strange device that seems able to predict possible futures, a device called the Envisioner.

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Upon studying the device, the people in the facility learn that it came from a parallel world, and that it was created by that world’s version of Hayes. Now Hayes find himself working on the Envisioner project, trying to help crack the secrets of his other self, and whilst there he begins to fall in love with Yusuf as the two of them grow closer. However, unlocking the secrets of the Envisioner is only the beginning of a story that will lead Hayes on a journey through the multiverse.

If you pick up a copy of A Fractured Infinity, the back of the book describes the story as being like Rick and Morty, but I think that if you’re coming to this hoping for weird and wacky multiverse shenanigans you should throw that expectation out the window. That is not this book. It deals with other worlds, yes, but that’s about as far as the comparison goes. In a lot of ways, it’s closer to another story the blurb compares it to, The Time Traveler’s Wife. At its heart, once you strip away all of the weirdness and science talk, this book is a love story, and a story about how far people are willing to go to save the people that they love.

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The relationship between Hayes and Yusuf is the emotional heart of the book, and the most important part of the story. In many ways it is the driving force for a lot of what happens here. There are things that happen in the book that will set the two characters onto a course that will lead them to visit multiple worlds, and will have billions of lives riding on the outcome, but it’s all down to their relationship in the end. There’s an instant attraction between the two of them, and it’s quite cute to see the early days of their relationship, as each of them tries to figure out if the other likes them, and how to go about pursuing that.

I love that even in a future where there seems to be no issues around queer relationships, and where these two people are working in such close proximity that they’re pretty much the only person the other knows, there’s still that feeling of being unsure, or being too nervous to take that first step. It’s a feeling most people will know well, and really helps to humanise the characters here. They’re not confident guys who ask each other out, they’re not thrust into a situation where they suddenly both realise they’re in love, they’re nervous and shy, and it’s so wonderfully real.

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As well as giving really wonderful queer representation, the book also writes Yusuf, a character who is never named as such, but appears to be autistic, very well. He has a lot of moments where he has difficulty processing things that are going on, and he goes quiet whilst he figures things out and works out the best response. He isn’t great at talking to Hayes about certain subjects, but really comes to life with passion when he gets to dive into science and his passions. It’s a wonderfully real and kind depiction of autism that never makes a big thing of it, that never tries to other or lessen Yusuf, and just treats him as any other character. More books need positive depictions like this.

A Fractured Infinity is a wonderfully complex book, filled with huge scientific ideas, and a plot that spans multiple universes, yet is presented so simply and deftly that even the most basic of laymen can keep up with things. Nathan Tavares crafts an engaging and enthralling story filled with interesting characters and ideas that was hard to put down, and that I was sad to see go once it was done.

A Fractured Infinity is out now from Titan Books.

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