Time Shelter

Dreamscape Media May 2022. tr. from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. 10:19 hrs. ISBN 9781666580150. $22.99. SF
When the world is in dire straits, there is a tendency to turn to the past and the nostalgia that comes with it, to essentially shut oneself in a “time shelter” and relive happy memories. Bulgarian author Gospodinov’s (The Physics of Sorrow) novel takes the concept of a time shelter and shows how it can quickly turn nightmarish and dystopian when human nature and political systems factor into things. The narrator’s friend opens a clinic whose rooms and floors are “set” in different years of the 20th century, down to the tiniest of details, such as the smell of baking bread. The original goal is to offer Alzheimer’s patients comfort in their final years and to hopefully trigger their memories as they explore their pasts using the clinic’s rooms. Soon, however, anxious people without Alzheimer’s start demanding the right to escape the problems of the modern world as well. Governments get involved, and everything goes wrong. It’s a work of satire, but it’s also incredibly, heartbreakingly sad.
VERDICT Jeff Harding’s narration is best listened to sped-up for full effect, but this audiobook is a must-have for science fiction and humanities collections.
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