SPSFC 3 Quarterfinalist: In the Slip by F. D. Lee

Part of the challenge of being a judge in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition is to assess novels that aren't a good fit with your own personal taste. Some readers love time-travel stories. Others wish they could go back and undo the decision to read them.

The third quarterfinalist selected by Team ScienceFiction.news in SPSFC 3 is the time-travel novel In the Slip by F. D. Lee, which was recommended even by judges who do not make time for the subgenre.

One of those judges, David Dubois, explained on Goodreads how it won him over:

Time travel has been played out, but this version has specific constraints that make the plot believable. The reveals come in layers, slowly bringing the story elements together in a consistent and interesting way. There are surprising twists and turns that I found unpredictable and exciting (and sometimes weird -- but in a good way).

The world-building, a dystopian future blending environmental issues, class segregation, and hyper-commercialism, is top-notch.

The novel has a world-weary protagonist with a voice distinctly his own from the first sentence: "Want is the greatest crime we ever commit against ourselves, I reckon."

Kong is a Trans-Temporal Copyright Agent working a mission of no particular importance when he sees a man in a bar he feels like he met before, in his own before.

Lee writes:

No one can say I broke the rule when I didn't know this was gonna happen, is what I'm saying.

This is how it is: shit goes south pasttimewise, but the One True Timeline gets restored, and it all comes back to normal, or close enough. But here's the itch: pasttime and presenttime aren't the same thing, not when you live them both, and presenttimewise, here he is. And along with him there's this oddness in my stomach, a sharp softness.

I don't know what's gonna happen.

So, I ain't breaking no rules, I reckon. Just exploring this slip. Yeah. Gathering intel, clocking up new factors, working out new wants. Just so happens some of them are mine.

The book borrows style and cynicism from cyberpunk, deriving gigawatts of irony from how hard Kong works to save the timeline integrity of a future that doesn't sound worth saving.

In the first stage of SPSFC many judges stop reading novels at the 10 or 15 percent mark to give a Yes or No vote on whether to continue. In the Slip is a novel we all wanted to spend more time in.

Cover of F. D. Lee's science fiction novel In The Slip

Add a Comment

All comments are moderated before publication. These HTML tags are permitted: <p>, <b>, <i>, <a>, and <blockquote>.