Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 The Paradox Hotel


If movies and shows that deal with wibbly wobbly timey wimey are your cup of tea, then you should try The Paradox Hotel. Time travel has been invented and the rich and famous spend large amounts of money to vist Ancient Egypt, see dinosaurs, or watch showdowns in the Wild West. Agents are trained to supervise these excursions and prevent anyone from trying to make changes to the timeline. There is a slight problem with some personnel coming "Unstuck" as they are exposed to the radiation needed to make time travel possible. They being to experience scenes that have already happened or even previews of things to come. Eventually their minds become completely unanchored and they are reduced to lying in a bed hooked up to life support, unable to distinguish the present reality from those other times. 

January Cole was once such an agent, but she has taken the job of house detective at the hotel that serves the visitors before and after their excursions. As the hotel prepares to host a conference of several trillionaires who are interested in purchasing the time travel facility from the government, January's fitness for duty is questioned as she begins to see things that no one else notices. Is she slipping into the advanced stages of being Unstuck, or is there really something sinister happening in the hotel? It doesn't help that the rich guys, their various entourages, and the U.S. senator who is overseeing the sale all have overinflated egos, fluctuations in the equipment cause the cancellation of several planned excursions, and a blizzard dumps several feet of snow on the hotel and facility.

The science fiction elements are intriguing. Could time travel tourism actually be possible and sustainable? Would it be profitable or a money pit? Would radiation from the process cause neurological changes in the staff that were frequently exposed? How much change could the time stream accommodate without negative repercussions in the present? 

To add even more layers to the book, the relationships and personalities of the staff in the hotel are interwoven with past experiences and the interdependence of a large and boisterous family. January's  personal reasons for staying in the job and the causes for the distance she imposes between herself and others become more clear as the story unfolds. With the increasingly bizarre behavior of time within the hotel and January's perceptions of it, she makes a captivating but possibly unreliable narrator. That is one of the mysteries that readers must solve - can January and what she sees be trusted? 

I read an advance copy supplied by the publisher for review purposes.

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