Today my guest is Tom Sweterlitsch, the author of the brand new book The Gone World. We talk about his history as a writer, writing for the love of it, Philip K. Dick, weird sci fi, time travel, publishing, and much more.
***Our Skype connection dropped in a couple of places. I minimized the distraction as much as possible, but thank you for bearing with our technical issues.***
« “A mind-blowing fusion of science fiction, thriller, existential horror, and apocalyptic fiction…The power of this novel is two-fold: Sweterlitsch’s intricately plotted storyline will keep readers on the edges of their seats until the very last pages, and his extended use of bleak imagery coupled with his lyrical writing style make for an intense and unforgettable read…This darkly poetic and profoundly disturbing glimpse into the potential last days of humankind will surely haunt readers’ dreams long after the book is finished.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
« “A fascinating blend that doesn’t skimp on the criminal investigation or the [sci fi]… Describing much more than [the] simple setup would rob the reader of the trippy experience of navigating the time-travel intricacies of this nail-biting speculative thriller from Sweterlitsch.”—Library Journal (Starred)
“The Gone World will horrify and fascinate readers in equal measure. It is also a primer on cutting-edge theories about time travel and astrophysics. . . Prepare to be dazzled.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“In Shannon Moss, Tom Sweterlitsch has created a protagonist reminiscent of Clarice Starling—fearless, damaged, driven—and placed her in the most original novel I’ve come across in years. I simply loved The Gone World. Set against a murder investigation spanning multiple realities, this is big-idea fiction that defies genre in the best possible way. Epic and mind-bending in scope, it carries the reader through on beautifully rendered, human moments. I promise you have never read a story like this.”—Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy
“At once futuristic, nightmarish and hard-boiled. Once again Tom Sweterlitsch takes readers to another world and back again. Take the trip.”—Stewart O’Nan
“In a word: Whoa! Edge-of-your-seat crime fiction that bends both time and mind. Think True Detective meets 12 Monkeys. Throw in the end of the world and you can begin to imagine where this gut-twisting tale will take you. This is cross-genre fiction at its best.”—Sylvain Neuvel, author of Sleeping Giants
* * *
In THE GONE WORLD, Sweterlitsch takes us on an inventive ride that is at once an audacious work of speculative fiction, a gripping murder mystery, a novel of ideas, a pulse-pounding techno-thriller, and a moving human drama featuring a brilliant and complex heroine.
It is 1997, and the United States Navy has developed technology to enable exploration of the farthest reaches of space and time in a covert program called Deep Waters. On a mission, the spaceship U.S.S. Libra has inadvertently revealed an event known as the Terminus—the cataclysmic end of humanity, which is hurtling through time, closer and closer to the present. Now, the Navy has tasked a top-secret division of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) to stop the Terminus.
Meanwhile, in a small town in Pennsylvania, the family of a Navy SEAL called Patrick Mursult has been viciously murdered, and NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss has been called in to investigate. Shannon has been hardened by her work and even gravely injured in the line of duty: after one life-threatening mission, she was left with one leg amputated above the knee. But this scene startles her. Beyond the horror of the crime, Shannon is unnerved by an uncanny coincidence: the murder scene is the home of her childhood best friend, who was herself murdered years earlier in a robbery. Shannon must put that aside to focus on solving the crime—and finding the SEAL’s missing teenage daughter.
But Shannon has not been assigned to this case merely to solve a murder and find a missing girl. Patrick Mursult was a crew member of the Libra, which was presumed lost after encountering the Terminus. As the case deepens, Shannon must travel to several different possible futures in order to gather information that she can use in the present, with regard to both the Mursult case and the Terminus. Fighting through the savage disorientation of time travel, Shannon follows a trail of violence and destruction to a single shocking incident aboard the Libra. To undo that foundational event and prevent the apocalypse drawing rapidly closer to the present, Shannon must enter the petrifying landscape of the Terminus, facing her own worst fears and drawing on every last ounce of strength available to her.
Tom Sweterlitsch, the author of Tomorrow and Tomorrow, has a master’s degree in Literary and Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University and worked for twelve years at the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and daughter.
Thanks to our sponsors: