I am a tremendous fan of Michael J. Sullivan’s writing. I devoured the Riyria Revelations trilogy and then read the first prequel, The Crown Tower, because I just couldn’t get enough of his fantasy world. The final book available so far is sitting on my shelf. I haven’t read it yet because, once I do, there won’t be any more, so I’ve been holding off. Which brings me to Hollow World.
Sullivan has written a science fiction thriller (I guess that is the right genre) and although this is even more out of my normal sphere, I decided to give it a whirl.
Ellis Rogers is our hero, a mild mannered engineer with nothing to live for (a failed marriage, childless since the death of his son, and one friend with whom he shares a history but has little in common–the guy is a doofus and a slob) who discovers he has a terminal illness. This news elates him because he is now free to experiment with the time machine he has built in his garage.
Sullivan displays his usual skill at world building. The global climatic catastrophe has occurred, so the human race has moved underground, or into Hollow World. The political system has changed. And so has the human race.
It can be debated (and is debated) whether this new world is a utopia or a dystopia, but before Ellis can sort out how he feels about where he must live out the rest of his days, he has a murder and a conspiracy to solve. These things are unheard of in the far distant future, so his new friends need someone with experience to help, and a twenty-first century engineer is the closest thing they’ve got.
This is a thought-provoking novel and an interesting read with straightforward characterizations and a fast-moving plot. Still, it didn’t really absorb me the way The Riyria Revelations did. It could be that time travel and science fiction are just not my thing, no matter who is the author. I will say I’m glad I read the fantasy first. If I’d started with this, I don’t think I would have been so impressed that I would have raced out and bought the fantasy trilogy.