The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White. Book review

THE INCREMENTALISTS by Steven Brust and Skyler White, Tor, h/b, $24.99,

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Every so often an original writer has a novel published and it is so mind blowing that it can’t be put down, or that is the theory. The mixing of science fiction, a secret organization and an ancient conspiracy form the essential ingredients for a novel that shows how much heart it has as you read through it.

The Incrementalists is like Mensa, it’s a secret organisation of two-hundred people that goes back forty thousand years. Their mission in life is to make the world a better place and in order to do this; they have to save other people’s memories of their past and shape the future with new ones. Nothing is certain however, but Phil, a fellow Incrementalist has been through several incarnations through the years and has been a perfectly sane and reasonable person until his wife dies. Since then he has changed from being the calm and normal man his associates once knew.

For the early part of the novel, Phil corresponds with his associates, trying to get them to see his point of view. The story itself is a simple romance with science fiction elements in the background, yet that isn’t the real truth as the science fiction element is well written and believable. Of personal interest were explanations of Meddle work where Phil would enter a person’s mind and influence their decisions. What he decides to do for the betterment of the future and its people and the way he has Ren to house the memory of his wife so he can still communicate with her are key points in the book. Death doesn’t always mean the end in the future where we can use certain interfaces to communicate with long lost loved ones just like Phil did in the novel. Phil comes across as a likeable person as does Ren, and the other Incrementalists want to help him, but what happens at the end is interesting and made me think it was worth reading.