The Rewind Files by Claire Willett

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“The Rewind Files,” a first novel by Portland playwright Claire Willett, is probably flying under your radar. It’s out of the mainstream of the publishing world.  And this is a bad thing, because it’s an absolutely stunning debut novel, filled with time travel and a snarky heroine and a perfectly paced storyline with an absolutely logical big reveal at the end that’s somehow also a complete surprise.

The book was published by Retrofit Publishing, a tiny new offshoot of the digital production company Retrofit Films – better known for projects like NBC’s “Heroes” or for interactives games like “Vampire Diaries.” Retrofit decided to venture into e-publishing last year, with the goal of “evoking the bygone times of beat-up and well-loved science fiction paperbacks.”  “The Rewind Files” is one of only two books they’ve produced to date, available in both paperback and e-book versions.

The book’s primary storyline takes place early in the 22nd century, after time travel’s discovery leads to politicians manipulating history which create messy rifts in the General Timeline.  Our nerdy, self-doubting heroine is Reggie Bellows, one of the lowly government technicians employed to repair the Timeline.  Following in the footsteps of her legendary parents, she avoids incongruities and evades villains, only to discover yet another level of conspiracy trying to conceal the Watergate break-in that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency – or did it?

Willett handles the intricacies of time travel particularly well, with all the theoretical loops being neatly tied up in the end. I particularly appreciated how each world – be it the modern 2112 or the Washington D.C. of 1972 – was fully realized in the tiny details.  Highly recommended. – Connie Bennett, Library Director

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