What if you were able to live different lives through different times? What if you had a reset button to your life? What if you discovered you had a special ability that you didn’t wish for? These are just a few of the questions that Steve Searls throws out in his MY TRAVELS WITH A DEAD MAN, an extremely fascinating book.
It all starts with Jane Takako Wolfsheim falling in love with Jose Luis Borges. No, not the famous author but an eponymously named stranger. Although Borges loves Jane, he turns out to be a man she ultimately cannot trust. He sizzles with an undercurrent of violence and darkness that makes her fear him. But she is also inexplicably attracted to him, a compelling need that changes her life in unimaginable ways. With him, Jane discovers her capability to travel through space and time. She has strange visitations from Basho, the Japanese poet, who offers her cryptic suggestions in the form of haikus. Sometimes, even the Daibutsu, a giant bronze statue of the Buddha situated in the city of Kamakura, in the Kanagawa Prefecture, speaks to her. They, along with Ulrikke, make up the primary characters in the novel. However, despite the sparse characterization Searls writes engagingly and the plot races ahead with ample twists and turns.
“Each new choice I make is a leap into the unknown,” Ulrikke said, “no matter how well I prepare.” Her words are thought-provoking and true. Isn’t every moment of every day filled with unavoidable choices?
“The world is shadows and fog, filled with suffering and despair. Death rules all. Your attachment to it is leading you down a path to destruction. Let go of all your ties. Leave…” the Daibutsu advises Jane.
The book is filled with slivers of sagacity like these.
MY TRAVELS WITH A DEAD MAN is a highly entertaining and potent mix of alternative realities, philosophy, and science fiction. It can perhaps be compared to the German science fiction Netflix thriller series “Dark” in its complexity. Searls uses time travel to pose some important questions that make the story not just a heart-thumping read, but also a reflective one.
Steve Searls’ MY TRAVELS WITH A DEAD MAN is a compulsive page-turner that contains elements of romance, tragedy, adventure, journeys through space and time, terror, mysticism, and meditation. It’s a high-octane, multilayered odyssey that is perfect for readers looking for a little bit of everything.
~Swati Nair for IndieReader