By: Michael J. Sullivan
Format/Source: eBook; received from supporting his Kickstarter project for The Death of Dulgath
The future is coming…for some, sooner than others.
Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man who is about to embark on an extraordinary journey. All his life he has played it safe and done the right thing, but when faced with a terminal illness, he’s willing to take an insane gamble. He’s built a time machine in his garage, and if it works, he’ll face a world that challenges his understanding of what it means to be human, what it takes to love, and the cost of paradise. He could find more than a cure for his illness; he might find what everyone has been searching for since time began…but only if he can survive Hollow World.
Next sci-fi book review here on the blog as part of Sci-Fi Month is Michael J. Sullivan’s Hollow Word. I have read his Riyria Revelations series a few years ago (see author tag) and greatly enjoyed it but I knew coming to this book this was going to be quite different because it was a different genre and everything. Nonetheless I was interested in reading it for myself.
Well this book certainly doesn’t take its time easing itself into the story, sending readers straight into Ellis’ predicament and right into the time travel story within two chapters. Which is all right, though it did leave me with a few questions about Ellis’ background and the whole spectrum of his mindset when he does decide to use his time machine. But the way that Michael Sullivan crafts this particular tale, he fills in the blanks about Ellis’ backstory–his education, the full nature of his relationship with his wife Peggy, the events surrounding his own personal tragedy (no spoilers here)–as the story progresses, which is cool because actually I was more interested in Ellis’ personal story and how events in the future leaves him reflecting on his own past and his failings and the relationships he’s left behind or have broken down along the way than in the mystery of the storyline.
The story was interesting, Ellis ending up far in the future where the world has been ravaged by so many changes–the impact of climate, of war–and humanity has evolved where there is no disease, no death (to some degree), no war, no religion, no gender. The story has all the elements of a science fiction in that it does tackle larger themes of what it means to be in such a society, what does it mean to be human, what happens to identity in such an advanced state where everyone looks the same, what happens to personal interest, etc. Sometimes it feels perhaps like there’s so many themes that are being tackled in this book, but with the way that this futuristic society is structured, there’s no way all of these themes can’t not be touched on to some degree.
Overall I enjoyed reading Hollow World. It’s different from his Riyria Revelations from the most obvious reasons to the more thematic nature of the novel. Admittedly story flow-wise there were some lulls as things quieted down after he travelled to the future and again in the last third right before the antagonist’s dastardly plan is revealed, and it did feel like I was pushing myself to finish the book at times but I was compelled enough about the reveals into Ellis’ character and backstory to keep reading. Anyway, I’m glad to finally read this book and look forward to reading his Riyria Chronicles soon…ish xD