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Version Control Audiobook

Version Control: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (439 )
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Performance
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  •  
    serialnumber55 03-06-16

    serialnumber55

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "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.<br/>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.)<br/>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.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Biloxi 03-28-16
    Charles Biloxi 03-28-16 Member Since 2015

    Fantastic narration, memorable characters, and mind-bending plots get me every time.

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    "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.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    webtraverser Northern Virginia 04-29-16
    webtraverser Northern Virginia 04-29-16 Member Since 2009

    kevjenn

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    "A very different kind of Time Travel story"

    As some have said, it is hard to talk about this novel without talking about the details. The story is slow burn and there is not much "sci-fi" in it. If you are looking for an in your face kind of time travel story this is not for you. If you like a subtler type of story that has rich and detailed characters, give it a try.I thought he nailed the end perfectly.
    January LaVoy is fantastic. I will have search out other audio books by her.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Calgary, Alberta, Canada 01-31-17
    Robin Calgary, Alberta, Canada 01-31-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Weak Story Rescued By Good Narrator"

    This story is based on an interesting twist but the principle characters are either uninteresting or downright annoying. The pace is glacial too making this one of the few books I've had to struggle to finish. Were it not for LaVoy's excellent narration I doubt I'd have hung on to the end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany Ball 01-05-17 Member Since 2014

    By day, I study early 20th century literature. By night, I enjoy good contemporary fiction and thrilling suspense/detective novels.

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    "slow moving and satisfying"

    listened to this book over the holidays and I very much enjoyed it. it is packed with so many goodies including near-future weirdness; dense characterization; meta-commentary on sci-fi as a genre; boozing; and fairly interesting gender and racial politics. it gets bonus points for its representation of academics (physicists) as overworked and grant-grubbing and because it delays explanation of WTF is happening over and over again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew SEATTLE, WA, United States 03-15-16
    Matthew SEATTLE, WA, United States 03-15-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It grabbed me more than I thought"
    Would you listen to Version Control again? Why?

    I don't listen to audio books more than once, so no. I can see how/why someone would however.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Character driven story, with enough drama/action/ scientific reasoning to keep it interesting. There are great leaps of faith required to keep the story moving forward, but on balance it does a reasonably job of keeping on track.


    Which character – as performed by January LaVoy – was your favorite?

    Our hero Rebecca Wright is rich and interesting.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Current title works for me.


    Any additional comments?

    This offering really did grab me. It was rich, complex, thoughtful and in places moving. Clearly the author was using this a platform for their own POV on many aspects of life, which is sometimes irritating, but not in this instance. <br/>The story did have some plot holes and issues however, so i did need to knock it down a notch.<br/>Notwithstanding, it's worth the credit.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don 09-06-16
    Don 09-06-16 Member Since 2009
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    "Awe inspiring!"

    I am literally awe-struck by Dexter Palmer's imagination and intellect as demonstrated in this book. A multi-dimensional and highly creative narrative coupled with a profound knowledge and insight into the conduct of science made this book one of the most compelling I have ever come across! Truly a tour de force! Coupled with January LaVoy's outstanding performance, I couldn't stop listening!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert F. Jones 05-27-17
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    "Personal"

    Compelling characters. About the creation of a time machine and the potential implications. Skims over philosophy (categorical imperative etc). Deus ex machina ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judd Bagley 04-11-17
    Judd Bagley 04-11-17 Member Since 2017

    Max Fisher of Rushmore Academy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great concept, mediocre execution"

    I have a huge weakness when it comes to smart time travel stories, and so when I heard there was a book centered around a "causality violation device" that's all I needed to know. I bought it.

    I feel like the author could have used some intensive coaching. Or maybe the word is editing. This book was overflowing with stuff that in the end served no purpose. I'm all for universe building but a far too large portion of the story is dedicated to conversations and episodes that simply don't matter, not even to demonstrate character development, much less character texture. Just so much blah blah blah.

    Which brings me to my second complaint: the dialog. Palmer writes dialog the way people write, not the way people talk. Even really smart people, of the type that are overflowing in this story, are not eloquent when casually chatting with their friends. And yet that's how he scripts them. It felt very forced and unnatural.

    One example: with about a dozen exceptions, he has the characters say "causality violation device" to each other. Ten syllables. To refer to something they must discuss a hundred times a day, every day. People don't talk that way.

    The performance was outstanding, except for where the narrator assumed the voice of a male character, in which case they mostly sounded sort of oafish. But on the whole, the narrator was amazing.

    As for the science, I'd have liked to hear more about how the author envisioned addressing more than just the location in space time problem.

    If you don't care about dialog or fluff or the "how" of the story, you'll probably like this book. Otherwise you might come away frustrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodrigo Damazio São Paulo, Brazil 04-09-17
    Rodrigo Damazio São Paulo, Brazil 04-09-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Really boring"

    The plot is really unsurprising and just boring, both on the 19 chapters the author spends telling the character's personal stories as well as in the sci-fi aspect of "time travel"/physics and description of a later-21st-century society.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Jenny
    3/7/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • P
    3/23/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "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???!!!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Rax
    London
    10/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Great ideas explored"

    Really enjoyed the audio book mainly because the performance of the narration was exceptional.

    Some of the chapters could stand alone as scientific vignettes in essay form, as they look at themes of time, space, parenthood, relationships, technology and society through a scientific microscope.

    I expected this book to be more about time travel in the traditional science fiction sense but was surprised and happy with the story focusing more on human relationships and choices.

    Glad I downloaded it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. D. Thompson
    leeds
    1/24/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent mix of real life and science fiction"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    whilst the subject matter is time travel (which may put many off) its not a geeky, nerd book at all. In fact its mostly centred around the lives and relationships of the physicists and the people around them. The list of characters is quite small so there is time to develop their characteristics and back stories and we learn they are flawed human beings.


    What about January LaVoy’s performance did you like?

    She narrated very well and had clear voices for each of the main characters. I particularly liked her rendition of the security guard, Spivey.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This physically wasn't possible being 18 hours long and that is a long period of time so no I wouldn't want to. There was only one moment when I got bored and turned it off and that was the long chapter when they are reading Philips diary notes from his Graduate days. It seemed excessively long. other than that I was gripped for the most part.


    Any additional comments?

    If you have absolutely no interest in the concept of time travel, it's theory, problems and the implications of re-writing histories then there is little point in reading this book.If you are interested in the above and want it presented in the form of a story about the people involved, their intertwined relationships and subsequent "unfolding" which makes the more "techy" bits more palatable then this would be a good read for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it has left me thinking about the concepts in it and I'm sure I will be discussing and thinking about it for some time.It takes over half of the book to even get close to the "incident" itself. You know its going to happen at some point, because its a book about time travel (or causality violation), but the author does well holding off and sets up a good story with interesting characters. With it being set in the near future the author throws in a few developments he believes will happen - the most noticeable being the every day use of automated (or driverless) cars. Amongst other things he also discusses the techniques used by dating websites, the interest and funding of scientific projects, the problems of race in science, theology, marriage, divorce and alcoholism.If I was to put a figure on it I would only 35% of the book is about the time travel device, its creation, the theory of time travel etc and the other 65% is about the people who have it involved in their lives.Definitely recommended to anyone, even with a slight interest in this subject because of the palatable way it has been delivered and presented to you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • paul crowe
    sussex, UK
    11/4/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Long but involving"

    At one level this book can seem very involved with seeming inconsequential minutiae of lives that are basically.......boring, despite the inclusion of cutting edge physics. However it's in the minutiae that detail exists, and in the detail lies variation that is the heart of the story. As others have mentioned, it slowly draws you in and by the end I was thoroughly engaged and not wanting it to end. Plus it's a book that makes you think more after you've finished, rather than simply moving on to the next story.

    The narration was very good, I can (xenophobic comment!!) sometimes fall asleep with American narrations, I don't know why, but this is very good and she really gets the different characters across.

    Recommended

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nadia Miscione
    10/9/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Utterly enjoyable"

    I loved it. The characterisation, the ideas, the humour, the narration. Perfection. My first Dexter Palmer, but not the last!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jon Baxendale
    5/2/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Simply excellent"

    Words just fail me! Absolutely stunning writing, story and narrative! Well produced and superbly read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • sarah
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    7/15/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "best book ever"

    thoughtful intelligent and funny book, although ostensibly about a time travel machine, richly layered with wonderful ideas insights and a heightened version of a society mediated by social media and other computer aided devices. just loved it. i am normally a fussy reader and the only other book which has ever topped my chart is the goldfinch.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Anthony Dawson
    London, England
    5/17/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not what I was expecting. but enjoyable anyway"

    Well narrated book loosely about time travel. More three diaries of someone's life - each told differently. Interesting on trend referencing to modern day things of now and soon to come and the dilemmas that we face in this future world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • joanjava
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    4/5/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If you liked cloud atlas"

    Original plot line, well developed characters and impressive talented narration. One of my best listens. Highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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