Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (3 Oct 2005)
One of the more interesting ways a novelist can approach a story is to show two apparently irreconcilable scenarios, and then bring them together after all. Done well, this can be a way to ignite a real sense of wonder as the reader attempts to figure out the mystery of what's going on. Done badly,the story collapses when the two scenarios meet.
I'm happy to say that here, it works.
Scenario one appears to be an alternate history, set in a 1950's Paris that never suffered WWII, and that is sliding towards a nastily racist right. (Among its sadder inhabitants is a former minor German politician - no guesses to know his name.) And somewhere else, some centuries in our future, the Nanocaust has happened, and most of history sadly lost. But when a strange map of Paris turns up, something is seen to be wrong. How these two stories come to match up and interact is what propels the body of the novel. Time travel? Multiple universes? read it and find out.
What works here is that the "What's going on?" pulls you in, but it's the characters and how they interact that keeps you, and finally, a sad, but right end caps a fine book.