cover image Last Exit

Last Exit

Max Gladstone. Tor, $18.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3573-9

College students discover they can manipulate the inherent uncertainties of reality to step into alternate universes in the brilliant latest from Hugo and Nebula Award winner Gladstone (This Is How You Lose the Time War, written with Amal El-Mohtar). Heroine Zelda and her friends use this “knack” to search for a better world, one “where history turned out different.” Instead, they find the rot, a hungry evil that devours every world it touches—and, in a terrible miscalculation, Zelda’s lover, Sal, is lost to the rot. Ten years later, Zelda’s on the road, alone, and working to stamp out the rot wherever it creeps into her world. When Sal’s 17-year-old cousin, June, demands answers about what really happened to Sal, Zelda takes June into an “alt”—and discovers that Sal, or whatever she’s become, is coming home. Now Zelda must bring her old friends back together to travel to the Crossroads, where worlds meet, in hopes of sealing off the rot forever. Gladstone weaves magic and mathematics in vivid and poetic prose. There’s a wonderful diversity of characters and relationships, with deep insight on how the characters’ differing traumas and marginalizations influence what they want out of the alternate worlds. The result blends fantasy, horror, and science fiction to produce a stunning, insightful novel that wants a better world just as much as its protagonists do. (Feb.)