Friday, September 14, 2012

Remember Me by Brian MacLearn

Remember Me, by Brian MacLearn is a unique fiction novel about a content middle aged man who has everything a man could wish for: financial prosperity, grandkids, and a new marriage to a younger wife, and well adjusted adult children who pretty much were shielded from the trauma of his recent divorce. Andrew Johnson is unexpectedly caught in an electrical storm and  enters a wormhole while doing a routine, mundane chore of mowing his lawn in anticipation of having a big birthday bash the following day.  Supernaturally he finds himself transported into the past from 2010- to the year 1985. He finds himself standing in the same exact location- only years earlier. He finds that his life as he has known it, no longer exists- and in fact is in danger of never existing.  To reduce the impact he may have in changing the lives of his future family: wives, kids and grandchildren, he finds he must isolate himself from anyone he may potentially know, especially family.

As a practical matter, he seeks out his parents, and after convincing them of his identity he developes a relationship with his younger parents and sister who help him adjust to life in the past. Fortunately his parents' trusting and gullible nature, make it so that he doesn't need to take long to convince his parents into believing the incredible events that led to his transport into the past. Once he has his parents as his ally to  help him get a fresh new start- he slowly adjusts to 1985. After gaining financial independance, he finds he must distance himself from his family to avoid unintentional interventions. The author spends a great deal of time discussing Andrew's path to financial independance and his money making schemes.  Practical matters such as establishing a new identity and making money through betting on sports games, are thorougly explained in extensive detail- in the same fashion as when the villian from the 1980s movie "Back to the Future" goes back in time and provides his younger self with a sports almanac, providing the perfect money making sheme for success in sports gambling.  He has a wealth of information from the future at his disposal to exploit for money making purposes: stock tips, technological information, movie/ media references and sports. He mediates and mentally brainstorms in an attempt to recover any and all information that may be of use in his money making endeavors. He could even make money as a psychic if he chose to do so, based on his knowledge of the future.   The possibilities are endless. He had many "glorious" opportunties "to make significant money". (p 157.)

The author explores interesting philosophical  issues such as purpose and predestination.  Andrew comes to the conclusion that the future is not set in stone- and that mankind is not predestined.  As human beings we have free will to consciously or unconsciously change the future- for better or worse. For example, Andrew enters a period of despair after a failed attempt to thwart the Challanger rocket explosion which killed the entire crew. And just a brief, insignificant, chance meeting with his ex-wife in a supermarket, changes the entire course of destiny so that his second daughter Emily is wiped from existence, and his ex-wife has instead, a son.  The ripple effect, in which each individual life impacts countless other lives, can have far reaching and unexpected consequences. The title itself is a symbol of Andrew's devotion to his wife and family, and specifically the daughter Emily that he inadvertently erased from exiwstence by his time travel into the past.  In fact, that becomes his "driving force" and "moral compass to be steadfast and true". (page 156)

The hero, Andrew, a movie buff and a storehouse of popular culture- has a high degree of self awareness and points out the obvious similarities of his situation to a number of popular sci-fi films such as "Back to the Future" and "The Butterfly Effect".  This novel in fact is a hybrid of  romance novel- whereas some cultural and historical as well as popular scifi elements such as time travel and worm holes are added.  While the book explores the social and philosophical imlications of time travel indepth, there isn't lengthy scientific explanatory material to make the story a science fiction novel other than a few simple passages of explanation on wormholes and multiple universes.  Obviously this is  the intent of the author as this is not to be considered a science fiction novel, but rather a contemporary romance novel. The fact that this is a romance novel is re-enforced from the first chapter, with its explicit account of his physical devotion to his wife, and woven throughout the story in the obsessive way that Andrew's thoughts are always drawn to his wife- who represents tha anchor of security.  Throughout his years of exile in the past, Andrew has one wish- to return home to his wife and the future. Andrew's thoughts are consumed with that of his second wife in a co-dependant, newlywed type of way. On occasion, Andrew prays to God and attempts to maintain his faith in the midst of the unexplainable events- but his true devotion is to his wife Amy his idol.

Andrew finds he must actually repeat the grueling  25 years of his life again- in real time- from the years 1985 back to 2010 after finding no easy and quick way back to the future.  Those years as an outsider, living in the sidelines, watching his family from afar take its toll physically and emotionally. He witnessess first hand the changes to his life- new children born, and his lament that his first marriage that did not wind up ending in divorce. He even is forced to live through the events of 9/11 once again- with a strong desire to devise a plan to thwart  the tragedy.  The plot to give advance warning served to save some of the lives that would have been lost. The one thing he focuses on for purpose is finding his way back to the wormhole on that fateful day in 2010. Eventually he finds himself back in his own time and place- blissfully unaware of what happend. Yet it is not without cost, in an unexpected twist, Amy life is changed forever and she finds herself on the sidelines, alone,  watching her younger self live her life of happiness. She has paid the ultimate sacrifice in her love and faith in Andrew, while also having her life profoundly changed by his time travel.  The original Andrew that went back in time, sends a handwritten  letter as well as the book, he wrote, also titled "Remember Me"- to himself in 2010- years after he dies -delivered by a mysterious older version of his beloved Amy. I cannot help but feel there are many parallels between the life of the author Brian MacLearn and the main character, Andrew.  I had to read through this book- just to see the ending! MacLearn's  writing displays authentic and genuine emotions expressed through his fictional hero.  As a blogger, I receieved this book, published by Outskirts Press for the purpose of writing a review.

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