Many people reading this, including myself, probably don’t see the need for dystopian novels when anyone can watch one just by turning on the news. But don’t leave yet – Parker Peevyhouse’s Where Futures End is a dystopian novel unlike any other I’ve ever read. It’s beautiful and sad and I’d encourage you to give it a try.
Where Futures End begins a year from now, in the life of a high schooler named Dylan who’s been expelled from his prep school for cheating on a math exam. Dylan is a dreamer, constantly looking for hints of the alternate world he used to visit as a child, which he calls the Other Place. He doesn’t really have a place in the world he lives in, since he constantly skips school and has become estranged from his father, mother, and older brother Hunter. Soon, though, he finds a bracelet in the pawnshop his mother owns that gives him a clue as to where the alternate world might have gone.
The second part of the book isn’t told from Dylan’s perspective. Instead, it takes place ten years from now, in a fast-food joint near the debtors’ colony where our second heroine, a down-and-out orphan named Brixney, lives. (Yes, most of this book takes place in the future; get used to some weird names.) Brixney, like many others, capitalizes on every part of her life and puts it on the future version of YouTube in the hopes that advertisers will provide her with the revenue she needs for her and her brother to pay off their debts. A strange boy in her restaurant catches her eye as just the spectacle that could bring her fame. As it happens, he has Dylan’s notebook detailing his adventures in the Other Place, which becomes a far bigger deal than anything Brixney could have expected.
Next, thirty years from now, a girl named Epony signs a record deal so she and her boyfriend can leave their farm town, condemned for climate-change related flooding. The catch is that she must pretend to be an alien from the Other Place, now an established alternate universe that houses aliens who frequently visit our world, in order to create a profitable forbidden-love dynamic. Epony quickly and understandably finds that she hates this. Like Dylan, she seeks solace in wondering about the Other Place, and her musings open another chapter in Earth’s history.
In the penultimate part of the book, sixty years from now, war and climate change have nearly torn the world apart. Seattle is packed with people trying to escape their lives to get to the Other Place. Since men are more easily able to travel between universes, women have become scarce. Reef, the fourth protagonist, earns a living by playing a massive virtual reality game and strikes a business deal by marrying a girl who already has two other husbands. This period marks the end of any world remotely resembling our own, and by the end of the book, the world has truly fallen apart.
Quinn, a young woman from a band of nomads, narrates this final part. The world is full of temporal anomalies from Earth and the Other Place colliding which the nomads interpret as magic, and Quinn convinces herself that her life’s work is to find a magical portal to the other universe. She finds what she’s looking for, but it comes with a choice, and Quinn soon finds herself with the fate of two worlds in her hands.
Where Futures End is a time-lapse of a civilization falling into ruin. It would be nice to close the book and breathe a sigh of relief because it’s fiction, but the whole conceit of the book depends on it being a totally reasonable future to predict. Without the alternate universe and the aliens, this could be the story of our world; it feels real enough to linger in the mind.
Anyone who loves eerie and intricate science fiction like Feed or Fever Crumb or anything by Isaac Asimov should give this book a try. Of course, it’s also kind of disturbing and unpleasant to read. If reading about a tragic future that could very well happen hits too close to home, I’d give Where Futures End a pass.