• Version Control

  • A Novel
  • By: Dexter Palmer
  • Narrated by: January LaVoy
  • Length: 18 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 23-02-16
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 3.9 (148 ratings)


The acclaimed author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion returns with a compelling novel about the effects of science and technology on our friendships, our love lives, and our sense of self.
Rebecca Wright has reclaimed her life, finding her way out of her grief and depression following a personal tragedy years ago. She spends her days working in customer support for the Internet dating site where she first met her husband. But she has a strange, persistent sense that everything around her is somewhat off-kilter: She constantly feels as if she has walked into a room and forgotten what she intended to do there; on TV, the president seems to be the wrong person in the wrong place; her dreams are full of disquiet. Meanwhile, her husband's decade-long dedication to his invention, the causality violation device (which he would greatly prefer you not call a "time machine") has effectively stalled his career and made him a laughingstock in the physics community. But he may be closer to success than either of them knows or can possibly imagine.
Version Control is about a possible near future, but it's also about the way we live now. It's about smart phones and self-driving cars and what we believe about the people we meet on the Internet. It's about a couple, Rebecca and Philip, who have experienced a tragedy, and about how they help - and fail to help - each other through it. Emotionally powerful and stunningly visionary, Version Control will alter the way you see your future and your present.
©2016 Dexter Palmer (P)2016 Random House Audio
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Critic reviews

"Mind-bending.... A compelling, thought-provoking view of time and reality." ( Booklist)
"Far more than a standard-model time travel saga.... Palmer's lengthy, complex, highly challenging second novel is more brilliant than his debut, The Dream of Perpetual Motion.... Palmer earned his doctorate from Princeton with a thesis on the works of James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, and William Gaddis. This book stands with the masterpieces of those authors." ( Publishers Weekly)
"A Mobius strip of a novel in which time is more a loop than a path and various possibilities seem to exist simultaneously. Science fiction provides a literary launching pad for this audacious sophomore novel by Palmer. It offers some of the same pleasures as one of those state-of-the-union (domestic and national) epics by Jonathan Franzen, yet its speculative nature becomes increasingly apparent.... A novel brimming with ideas, ambition, imagination, and possibility yet one in which the characters remain richly engaging for the reader." ( Kirkus Reviews)
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Regular price: £32.89

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jenny on 07-03-16

Will I read a better book in 2016?!

I absolutely loved this novel. It's long, but I would have happily stayed in its world for twice the length. Towards the end I rationed myself as I didn't want it to end. It's complex and compelling, a biting commentary on our society as well as a fully realised plot that races along, keeping you fully engaged.

It's a time-travel novel, but time-travel as it might really happen if scientists were a few steps closer to seeing results today. There's lots of physics, but explained in such a compelling way, that for moments I felt like I actually understood some of it.

This novel has everything in it. It's a domestic drama, a story of bereavement handled sensitively and honestly. Palmer holds a mirror up to human society and reflects, for me anyway, a convincing, often hilarious portrait of how we behave, how we have been molded by the internet, big data, algorithms.

At its heart it is the story about relationships, how people try to navigate their paths towards contentment in a world which seems dead set on thwarting them. A feeling of unease, insecurity and maybe paranoia suffuses the pages of this book. It's an unsettling read, but an absolute masterpiece. I couldn't have imagined a better narrator than January Lavoy for this story. She was perfect.

Highly and strongly recommended.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By P on 23-03-17

I don't understand why all the good reviews

I love a good sci-fi, but feel I am seriously missing the point of this book! I was determined to stick with it as the reviews were so good, but after 5 hours in, yes 5 hours, when nothing had actually happened other than a few women walking around doing very boring mundane things, I finally gave in!
There was an interesting bit for about 10 minutes after the third hour, when they started talking about time travel, I thought here we go finally, but no, back to women talking about men again! Really???!!!

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By serialnumber55 on 06-03-16

A Phildickian World and More

Any additional comments?

If Philip K. Dick hadn't spent so much of his energy chasing that dark haired girl, working feverishly under the effect of amphetamines to put out enough novels to pay alimony, and laboring under the weight of a culture defined by cynicism and ennui, perhaps he could have produced something as polished as this.
After all, the book has alternative timelines, a U.S. President who interrupts all citizens' phone calls and television shows (and as an apology pays for dessert), and simulacra that are created at a dating site. But it is also carefully crafted, well-paced, and polished. There was one plot diversion that was not well enough explained, but all in all, this was a very enjoyable, intelligent novel. (I do need to point out that I hadn't heard the word "desultory" used since Simon & Garfunkel's first album, and it was used three times in the book - but ok.)
The narrator did a great job of shifting through the characters and their accents and distinguishing features. And I will definitely be getting Palmer's other novel.

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21 of 21 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Charles on 28-03-16

This one is a keeper

Due to Audible's generous return policy, I quite often will return an audiobook for various reasons, especially if I feel as if the book is just not going to hold up to repeat listenings, and of course the narration has everything to do with that assessment.

January LeVoy's absolutely perfect reading of Version Control makes the repeat listenings requirement a non-issue since she is amazing: versatile and believable as either sex; gifted at fading into the background, allowing the story to take over; and just an all-around great reader. I love her voice!

With that being said, however, even the greatest narrator needs something to work with, and boy is she provided with it here. This new novel is jaw-dropping in its depth and vision. Reviewers have compared Palmer to Franzen in his treatment of adult relationships, and that is an astute observation: the man has the insight of Franzen and the mind-bending genius of Kubrick. I am a huge fan of time travel literature (and time loops, time freezing, anything to do with time, really), so believe me when I say that Dexter Palmer delivers an astoundingly fresh take on a genre that has been bent in every direction already.

Not only is the author's data-immersive vision of the future plausible, but it seems quite probable; frighteningly, it's not a world that beckons so much as it invites contemplation of the many ways it already has come to pass: indeed this novel is no sloppily thrown together tale of time travel and paradox, and the reader will observe the many fine details that have been added to flesh out both characters and settings. Similarly, Version Control does not lose its perspective on where it began as do many novels in this genre, starting as one sort of story and ending up as another novel completely; rather, the plot bends back on itself, subtly tweaking the reader's memory of prior scenes while expertly playing off of the story's central conceit.

Palmer could have written a much simpler story, but instead he has crafted a complex narrative, interwoven with futuristic concepts, relevant social commentary, and fully developed characters. He mentions Octavia Butler at one point in the novel, and with all due respect to Kindred, Butler's own time travel novel, Dr. Palmer has written, here, a far superior take on the genre than she. Yes, it's just that good: Version Control is a modern classic, vast and piercing in scope and horrific in its near-future dystopian vision.

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17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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