How "The Gone World" twists time travel into a thrilling, mind-bending mystery

Whose imagination wasn't piqued as a kid by the idea of time travel? In those days, the tales always seemed incredibly exciting and mostly consequence-free for the time traveler. Fix the timeline, get on with your life. Back to the Future is a primo example.

But then somewhere along the way, writers and filmmakers began to ask: isn't it logical to assume that traveling through time would mess with your head?

To that end, a friend recommended The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch and the book doesn't disappoint. (Thank goodness – I get irrationally resentful when someone pushes a book I don't love. Irrational, but there it is.)

Here's a marketing blurb to whet your whistle:

Inception meets True Detective in this science fiction thriller of spellbinding tension and staggering scope that follows a special agent into a savage murder case with grave implications for the fate of mankind…

Intriguing, but I probably would have characterized it more like Time Cop meets 12 Monkeys because a major element of the story is the psychic toll that traveling through time takes on a human. The plot is clever, and Sweterlitsch's take on the mechanics of time travel is not something I've seen before.

Here's The Verge's spoiler-filled review that really captures the book.

It's such a treat when a terrific sci-fi book appears on your radar years after being published.