Review of The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson published by Solaris / Rebellion Publishing

An ARC copy was provided by Netgalley and Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  I’ve written the review as spoiler free as possible.

I absolutely loved reading this book and found it captivating, but not in the way I was expecting. 

The story centers around an out of work science journalist, Alex Dolan, who gets offered an opportunity from one of the world’s richest men, Stanislaw Clayton, to write a book about the Sioux Crossing privately funded supercollider coming on line. It’s one of those opportunities you can’t really say no to. 

He moves from Boston to Sioux Crossing and the story follows his progress in the new community and the writing of his book.

 
In many ways, neither his book nor the supercollider are the focus of the story. For me it’s more about how Alex develops relationships and finds living in a small town where everybody knows your business. It’s an intriguing situation, normally in a small town everybody knows everything about everybody else but this feels different, people seem to know a bit too much for it to be just gossip, appear at exactly the right time and strangely this seems to be accepted as part of everyday life.  

The writing is excellent, there are some really perceptive observations and a range of cynical, mysterious and flamboyant characters that develop through the story so you gradually learn more about them, there’s an excellent human element to characters and their interactions. 

I say the supercollider isn’t the focus of the story, that’s because the first 80% or so of the story focuses on the town and exploring the facility. The last 20% does involve the facility, some extreme quantum weirdness and subtle links back to events earlier in the story. 

The ending does feel a bit sudden after the build up though, that said, thankfully the author resists the temptation to drag the story out or develop too complex or farcical plot lines so overall it still works really well, even though I’d have liked it to have lasted a bit longer. 

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