Science Fiction Thriller

Recursion – Blake Crouch

9 July 2019
Recursion Book Cover Recursion
Blake Crouch
June 11, 2019

Investigating a suicide, New York City police officer Barry Sutton finds a connection to the outbreak of a memory-altering disease and a controversial neuroscientist working to preserve precious memories.


Recursion is an outstanding contemporary science fiction thriller that is a great adventure full of suspense and power struggles and demonstrates how we can corrupt ourselves in controlling history. When you realise you’ve made a mistake can you go back and erase it, or does that compound the mistake?

The concept of capturing memories from the neural databases in our heads and replaying them as core memories is utterly fascinating. To imagine doing that for those with dementia would be an awesome breakthrough and accomplishment. This is the fundamental dream and motivation of Helena Smith as she watches her mother live with Alzheimer’s. Helena is a highly talented neuroscientist who is enrolled in the breakthrough research and development of a device (CHAIR) to capture memories. The team managed by her under the funding leadership of Marcus Slade discover if a person dies in the Chair they can capture and send their memories back in time to a point of a specific memory. The life they then live can be altered but when they arrive back to the date of transfer, the memories of both lives merge. This mental collision has serious repercussions as false memories when they come flooding back are causing suicides and breakdowns. Detective Barry Sutton investigates the phenomenon, only to be drawn into the fragile and recursive existence of time travel. What constitutes a human life, what constitutes existence, what happens with multiple timelines, are our bodies just transport equipment for our minds – oh my head hurts!

When I think about time travel, there are two issues that always play on my mind, the obvious one, how do you send physical material to a previous time period, and secondly the recognition that it’s all bound to end in chaos. The time travel bit whether physical matter or programmable memories still requires a suspension of reality and it’s better to set aside and remain a believer. What I loved, however, about this story was that it dealt with the chaos and built a compelling thriller around the eventual leak of the technology into the wider world and the major national forces that would pursue and use the technology. The escalating sense of chaotic fallout is brilliantly portrayed throughout the novel. At another level, we experience through the well-drawn characters the different motivations and competing pressures of altruism versus reward. Power corrupts and absolutely power corrupts absolutely. Helena becomes the Frodo Baggins of this world, to remain incorruptible and resolve the impending doom, even if it costs her own life.

I enjoyed this book and it is a wonderful escape into a science fiction world that appeals to our recurring dream of being able to travel in time to right our wrongs and prevent catastrophes. Stuff integrity I think I’d still do that Lottery now that I know the numbers. ? I would recommend this book and I’d like to thank Crown Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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