Famous Men Who Never Lived

By: K Chess
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For fans of Station Eleven and Exit West, Famous Men Who Never Lived explores the effects of displacement on our identities, the communities that come together through circumstance, and the power of art to save us.  

Wherever Hel looks, New York City is both reassuringly familiar and terribly wrong. As one of the thousands who fled the outbreak of nuclear war in an alternate US - an alternate timeline - she finds herself living as a refugee in our own not-so-parallel New York. The slang and technology are foreign to her, the politics and art unrecognizable. While others, like her partner Vikram, attempt to assimilate, Hel refuses to reclaim her former career or create a new life. Instead, she obsessively rereads Vikram's copy of The Pyronauts - a science-fiction masterwork in her world that now only exists as a single flimsy paperback - and becomes determined to create a museum dedicated to preserving the remaining artifacts and memories of her vanished culture.  

But the refugees are unwelcome, and Hel's efforts are met with either indifference or hostility. And when the only copy of The Pyronauts goes missing, Hel must decide how far she is willing to go to recover it and finally face her own anger, guilt, and grief over what she has truly lost.

©2019 K Chess (P)2019 HighBridge Company

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Destined to become a classic!

A fascinating exploration of the themes of immigration, isolation, trauma and shared humanity through the infinite possibilities provided by the Many Worlds Theory! The book finds that magic science fiction place where you can't put it down, despite not having epic conflicts between great powers and a suspenseful ending without and sudden twists or gimmicks proving that sometimes humans just living their lives make for the most compelling stories.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Meandering and pointless

I loved the world building, but the characters are not enjoyable, and there's no story

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

No laughing matter

I’ll just say a little bit about this fine unrelentingly sad book. The alternate universe problem is handled very well but not perfectly and it really doesn’t matter as the story could probably be told just as well without the sci-fi element. The narrator, Amy Landon is superbly talented. I just finished a book that she read and searched for my next book from titles that she narrated. She deserves five stars. It’s minus one star for Audible for not considering the nature of the material and the characters involved. I think it might’ve been better if a man did the voicing for the male characters. The ending was very satisfying. I would rate it 4 1/2 all around.