Last Year

Now available: The new novel from Robert Charles Wilson

Jesse Cullum is working as a bouncer at a whorehouse in San Francisco in the 1870s when a violent attack forces him to jump a train and head east.  Tossed off the train at a coaling depot near Chicago, lost and hungry, Jesse stumbles onto an isolated construction site where an enormous building has begun to rise from the Illinois plains.  The building is a kind of hotel, he's told, but it's no ordinary hotel -- this is a luxury resort for visitors from the 21st century.


A few years later, that resort -- locals call it the City of Futurity -- has become a Gilded Age sensation.  Not only are tourists arriving from the future, contemporary visitors are allowed to buy passes for a glimpse of the world yet to come.  The rich and famous of both eras begin to mingle, often to the dismay of both.  Jesse, now working a security detail for the resort's corporate owners, has his hands full . . . and he's on the front lines when an attempted assassination of President Ulysses S. Grant throws the City of Futurity into crisis. 


Partnered with Elizabeth DePaul, a 21st century veteran and single mother, Jesse travels from Gilded Age Manhattan to Barbary Coast San Francisco to investigate a conspiracy that overturns his understanding of the world, the people who control it, and the nature of time itself.

"Wilson (The Affinities) flips the traditional time-travel genre on its head with an engaging protagonist who adapts the best of both worlds into rugged, brainy secret-busting resourcefulness, forging talents superior to 21st-century technology. Wilson’s turnabout effectively turns both past and present into 'another country,' and may just lure readers tired of temporal clichés back into the time-travel fold."  

-- Publishers Weekly

"If this unique setting where past and present collide isn’t enough, Robert Charles Wilson populates the story with wonderfully complex characters. Jesse Cullum initially feels like an unassuming, steadfast security officer with an unusual predilection for Oakley sunglasses, but gradually evolves into a fascinating, multi-dimensional character. Elizabeth’s background story is less shocking only because it’s unfortunately so recognizable for contemporary readers, but the way these two very different characters help each other come to terms with their past demons is simply a joy to read."

-- Stefan Raets,

"Deftly plotted . . .  Last Year offers a clever, caustically ironic look at what happens when ideology and technological change encounter messy human reality."

-- Macleans

"The premise of opening one-time doorways into pasts-that-might-have-been is intriguing…but it's the human story of Jesse that makes this widely accessible."

-- Kirkus

"The authentic feel of the land and culture jumps off the page, as do both Jesse and Elizabeth’s reactions to their respective foreign experiences. . .  Wilson’s prose is beautifully constructed in this intelligent and gripping novel. The Hugo Award-winning author has written another sci-fi tale that will keep you reading for hours on end."

-- Chicago Review of Books

Click to read an excerpt.


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© 2020 by Robert Charles Wilson. Created with "Keep moving and forget the post mortems; and remember, no one can get the jump on the future." -- Carl Sandburg