A novel that reimagines the United States emerging from a different outcome in a pivotal presidential election. Virginia, 2004. Gore is entering his second term as president. Our narrator, recently divorced, is living at Halcyon, the estate of renowned lawyer and World War II hero Robert Ableson. Ableson died a few years earlier. Or did he? When it becomes clear that scientists, funded by the Gore administration, have found a cure for death, more and more of life's certainties get called into question. Is this new science a miraculous good or an insidious evil? Is Ableson a man outside of time, or is he the product of a new era? How does America's fate hang in the balance?
Ackerman attempts to explicate the full-spectrum meltdown of the social and political culture, his vehicle of choice alternate history with a science-fiction twist ... Characters and plot points weave in and out of these dual controversies, but the complicated accusation against Abelson is hampered by the low stakes ... Yet the fact that the novel doesn’t snap, that it barely even bends, and remains idiosyncratic and engrossing throughout, is a testament to Ackerman’s expert juggling act ... Ackerman intelligently forces the reader to think about the mundane, arcane territory of inheritance-threatening lawsuits.
It’s funny what a tweak to history can — and can’t — do, an idea Ackerman explores thoughtfully, if at times a little dryly ... Ackerman also seems to argue that different presidents than those we’ve had wouldn’t eradicate bad foreign wars or stateside divisiveness ... An entertaining thought experiment, and Ackerman writes with a gentle, graceful style that befits Martin’s mild character ... Ackerman delivers a potent critique of the what-if nature of talking about history in general.