There are several types of readers I feel Reprise is aimed at, and the Venn diagram of those types all overlap with me except for one: post-graduate academics.
But when it comes to things like geek culture, both in terms of fandom for a wildly popular TV show and in terms of playing roleplaying games, I’m right there with them.
That is one of the more interesting aspects of this novel. Unlike other books I’ve reviewed that dealt with elements of geek culture, this neither has the geek element feel like window dressing (like in Fangirl), nor does the geek element revolve around its heart, like in Roll for Initiative.
Instead, the geek element is entwined within the lives of the characters as naturally as (perhaps) it is in yours. It is presented as a part of their world in science and academia. A reference point used for context while discussing their research.
Researching what, you ask? The answer is, time loops!
Reprise is a darkly comedic story set in the world of academia and applied science, where the pressure to produce results is constant and the results being looked for might be of a questionable nature.
That’s where our protagonist comes in. Eddy Courant is a woman with a struggling academic career who is offered the chance to work directly in the field of time loops instead of just theorizing about them.
Along the way, she ends up becoming very friendly with the Gagnon family (and in the case of his wife, very friendly). They have watch parties of the insanely popular urban fantasy TV show Night Beats, and weekly Dungeons & Dragons gaming sessions, which end up being part of the story.
This novel is a slow burn, and those interested should be ready for that. Things don’t really start to crank up in terms of stakes until the last third, when the experiments being conducted get far more morally questionable.
Before that, you’re on a journey of getting to know Eddy, François Gagnon, his wife Mara, their son Joseph, and Eddy’s colleagues. It’s a character driven novel first and foremost, with a very complex and (entertainingly) morally dubious main character.
Despite being set firmly in the realm of science, research, and academia, don’t look for any kind of explanation as to how the time machine in question works. It’s not important. What’s important is how they use it (and later abuse it).
Imagine the following scenario: You can travel back in time several hours, but nothing you do will carry over to your present. And once you leave, that “other” timeline ceases to exist altogether. What would be the value of such a thing?
Well, you could, for example, safely test new pharmaceuticals there. Nobody in the real timeline is going to suffer ill side effects. In fact, everyone in the real timeline would get placebos.
Now, let’s take that one step further, because the logical progression of that idea is that fatal side effects don’t matter, either. In fact, you can do whatever you like to someone in this other timeline and it simply won’t matter, because once the loop is over, it will never have existed.
As you can imagine, this can get real dark real fast…