Here and Now and Then begins with Kin Crenshaw moments after being shot by a time-traveling criminal whose attempt to alter the future he had traveled back in time to prevent. Unfortunately, he was shot so that his transmitter and connection to the future was irreparably damaged.
Next thing we know, Kin has adapted to 21st-century life, married, and has a fourteen-year-old daughter, but the future has come calling and wants him back in 2142. He may have been here eighteen years, but he’s only been gone for two weeks. Trying to fit back into the future, to rediscover his love for his fiancee while mourning his wife and daughter is a challenge, but the real challenge comes when he finds out his time-traveling ways may have put his daughter in danger.
Here and Now and Then was a heart-wrenching book that I read in one bite. Kin was such a realistic character, a parent who would turn back time if he could to save his daughter, a man who bent the rules, who made mistakes, who sometimes was slow to talk and often avoided the issues that mattered. I cared about him. I cared about his daughter Melinda. I wanted them to find happiness and safety, but perhaps only one is possible.
I am not ashamed to admit I became quite weepy over this story. I cared so much and thought the choices and challenges Kin and those he loved faced were harrowing. Chen explores the old ethics question called the Trolley Dilemma. If you’re a rail switchman and you see a runaway trolley, do you do nothing and let it kill five people or flip the switch so it goes on another track and kills one. Do you sacrifice the few for the many? An early version of the dilemma asks what if the one is the switchman’s daughter. Does that change the calculus? Ethicists and philosophers have been arguing over this for over a hundred years in one form or another. Is it better than 99 guilty men go free than one innocent be imprisoned? How utilitarian are we?
I cannot wait to see what Mike Chen has in store for us in his future. Thankfully we won’t need to wait until 2142.
Here and Now and Then will be released January 29th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.