Sea of Tranquility: A novel
by John St. Emily Mandel
Hardcover- $17.44

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, ...

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  "If you could alter events and change the course of history, would you do so?" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 08/01/22

Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel, author; John Lee, Dylan Moore, Arthur Morey, Kirsten Potter, narrators
This novel takes the reader full circle, over a period of several hundred years, from a time in the past to a time in the future, from Earth to the Moon and its interplanetary colonies. It posits the question of time travel. What would be the effect of any possible interference on the events occurring in the past, present or future? Would meddling change the course of the future or the past, and if so, would it have devastating or positive results?
When the story begins, it is in the past, in the year 1912. Edwin St. Andrew is a young man who has been sent away by his father. He has not been able to find something constructive to occupy his time; he is a bit of a troublemaker, and since he will not inherit because of the rights of primogeniture, he has become somewhat of an embarrassment. He travels to Canada and meets a variety of people, some known to him already and some who are new acquaintances. He seems content, though aware of his exile. He even takes music lessons. One day, while wandering in a remote area of Vancouver, Edwin encounters a strange priest in a forest and then experiences something of a hallucination, involving the sound of a violin. It makes him physically ill. Who was the priest?
As the story takes place in the time period of Gaspery-Jacques Robert’s life, on into the future, we meet several other characters who also experience hallucinations that have Vancouver and violin music in common. Morilla is a young woman who, as a young girl, had an odd hallucination in which she encountered a strange man on her way home from school. He called out her name right before his arrest for murder. Then we meet Olive Llewellyn, an author who writes a novel that includes a scene in which a character experiences a similar hallucination to Edwin’s, about a forest. In each hallucination there is the sound of the music made by a violin. A few hundred years into the future. There is also a video made that somehow captures the time period of one of these glitches that causes the hallucination. Vincent, a dear friend of Morilla made the video using her brother Paul James Smith’s music. He was a composer.
Suddenly the reader is in another time, three hundred years into the future, and the reader meets Gaspery Jacques Roberts. He is also drifting through life with no real purpose until his sister, Zoey, tells him about a problem she is dealing with at the Time Institute. It has something to do with time travel. He is intrigued by her talk of an anomalie in the time continuum that seems to have occurred more than once. He begs to join the company to help find out what it is. She refuses but an associate, Ephrem, takes him more seriously and after five years of intensive training, he is given his first assignment as an investigator of the anomalie. He is warned not to interfere with any events, even to save a life. He is merely to investigate, interview, and report his findings to the group. They do not know what the results of meddling will be down the road and often attempt to correct whatever interference might occur. If it is deliberate, there will be dire consequences for the person responsible.
As the novel deals with crimes and pandemics, questions are raised. It turns out that this brief little book has a profound message about time and its influence on our lives. Is the future already written? Are there doppelgangers or time travelers? Can a person be in more than one place at a time? How are the time travelers affected by their experiences? Are those whose lives are interfered with or interrupted by a time traveler actually altered, or does the same thing that would have happened, actually happen anyway, at some point after it is delayed? Can a catastrophic event be prevented? If it is, will it occur later on, in another way? Can time play tricks on us? If a person time travels, can that person be in more than one place at a time? Can that person actually alter the future? Would it be possible to change the past, and if so, how would that affect all things in the future? If you knew someone was going to die, would you be able to stand by and do nothing or would you compromise the future and yourself? Is altering the future in that case a worthy crime? Would your own humanity be compromised if you allowed a tragedy to take place and did nothing, because, in essence, the event has either already occurred or is intended to occur sometime in the future? Could you be a time traveler? Would you be able to watch a tragedy and not try to prevent it? Could you stand by and watch without making an attempt to save someone you know is about to be hurt or worse? Would you risk altering time by warning someone of impending disaster? If a person time travels, is it possible to meet themselves in another time frame? Would that upset the continuum? Would the time traveler know that the person they encountered was none other than themselves at a different age? Do Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, Alan Sami, and Edwin St. Andrew have anything in common with each other? And finally, could you be a time traveler?

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