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Tim Wirkus

Tim Wirkus is the author of one previous novel, City of Brick and Shadow (Tyrus Books, 2014), which was a finalist for the Shamus Award and the winner of the Association for Mormon Letters Best Novel Award. His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Non-Required Reading, Subtropics, Cream City Review, Weird Fiction Review, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. His novella, Sandy Downs, won the 2013 Quarterly West novella contest. He's currently a doctoral candidate in the University of Southern California's Creative Writing and Literature Program.


“Wirkus crafts two gripping sagas into one gloriously captivating tome.”

– Paste

“Stupendously inventive and rewarding…The second half of Wirkus’ tale is…a sci-fi epic which echoes Battlestar Galactica and the fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin in equal measure…Especially well suited for fans of Jonathan Lethem and Ron Currie, this work announces Wirkus as one of the most exciting novelists of his generation.”

– Booklist (starred review)

"Roberto Bolaño meets Ursula K. Le Guin meets James Hynes meets, um, Kilgore Trout? I'm having a difficult time being clever in the shadow of having read Tim Wirkus's magnificently audacious The Infinite Future. How about this: it's a book about the power and melancholy magic of the stories we tell and of the stories we live."

– Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock

"Brilliant, playful, and profound, The Infinite Future offers its readers stories within stories within stories, all of them thrilling and wise. Tim Wirkus has written a strange and beautiful magic trick of a book, and I was enthralled. I loved it.”

– Edan Lepucki, author of California and Woman No. 17

"The Infinite Future is uniquely pleasurable. Again and again it changes the terms of its telling—wrapping stories within stories and narrators within narrators, enclosing the mystical in the earthly and the fantastic in the realistic....Wirkus has a gift for maintaining a story's equilibrium, and with each new narrative layer he explores, I found myself instantly reinvested in the proceedings."

– Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead

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The Infinite Future

The Infinite Future by Tim Wirkus


With a feeling akin to falling into a Wikipedia hole, Tim Wirkus’ debut novel, The Infinite Future, dives headfirst into the many ways in which a story can affect the human condition. With a crass, yet self-reflective style, Wirkus depicts the constant changes that stories have on our everyday interactions by using characters that are constantly reflecting on their own personal histories and relationships throughout a story that revolves around a quest for the long lost novel by an elusive, could-be-crazy, pulp science fiction author.

Something like a reflection on Plato’s cave with a literary tilt, like Wirkus is playing a game of telephone with himself.

This book takes the meta-narrative to the next level. With a heavy nod towards obscure sci-fi, Wirkus creates the most elusive author possible to ignite a hilarious, yet insightful romp through Brazil, Idaho, and the universe, of course. Tim Wirkus wields a humor that rings of Vonnegut, but simultaneously digs at character like Joyce. This book is for the literary that isn’t afraid to classify Isaac Asimov or Philip K. Dick as Literature.

This epistolary journey begins in the author’s foreword as he depicts his encounter with an old colleague from his undergrad years at BYU that “looked like the (Orson) Welles at the end of The Lady from Shanghai, hollow-eyed and shaken.” The author’s initial antipathy towards Danny, someone unknown beyond his love for power pop, is soon overcome by curiosity when Danny hands him a manuscript of a mysterious Brazilian sci-fi author named Eduard Salgado-Mackenzie. Wirkus takes the translated version of the text (containing Danny’s own hefty translator’s note) with understandable reluctance (one in a line of many reluctant readers of Salgado-McKenzie). Patience eventually gets the better of him as he is eventually enchanted by the author’s strange and lasting impression.

From there the novel evolves into personal histories layered upon personal histories revolving around Danny, a hermit librarian, and an excommunicated Mormon scholar. Rife with farcical encounters, Danny’s self-deprecating voice sets an atmosphere that is skeptical, yet faithful all at once, making an impressionable and passive character that is drawn into a journey to look for a book and author that may or may not exist. This is where Wirkus really excels — in his ability to turn a book into the most active character of the novel. The novel’s tiny facets and the interactions that each of these characters have with the book leave you hanging in suspense while laughing at the misfortunes of their curse of knowledge. Their relationships with the Adventures of Captain Irena Sertorian constantly change and fold over on themselves as every discovery is made. This all culminates to the point where you actually get to read the novel by Eduard Salgado-McKenzie, a sci-fi story that becomes closer and closer to you as the story moves on, leaving you to search for some meaning that could be seen through the Translator’s Note, only to realize that the story within the translator’s note was the story all along.

The Mormon-heavy locations chosen by Tim Wirkus is something known to him — and it shows. Religion is a strong motif throughout Infinite Future; an identifiable sensibility that is obviously very near to him. This book is a clear investigation of the ways that we interact with stories and he portrays this via his own experiences with Mormonism. Danny’s character is a Mormon that defines himself as a “more laissez-faire [Mormon],” one that, “may be very devout, but they also compartmentalize their Mormonism to a much greater degree.” This sort of clear reflection can only come from his own experiences with religion and appear to argue for a story’s ability to inspire and move people.

The Infinite Future reads like a science fiction novel that, instead of relying on space and fantasy to propel the story’s wonder, has Wirkus tap into the absurdity of the world we already live in as the catalyst. In fact, when I finally got to read the interstellar sci-fi novel, I found the novel’s obscure laws and rituals oddly familiar. This novel succeeds in blurring the lines between literary and genre fiction, a trend that has been observed in books like Robin Sloan’s Sourdough and Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan. The result brings together an intriguing narrative that tests the limits of our imagination and Tim Wirkus displays this with a wit and humor that forces our focus on the quotidian strangeness of our lives.

Tim Wirkus has written a novel that will make a lasting impression on our perception of language and the written word. By comparing the abstract world of science fiction with the inane world that we encounter every day, Wirkus has given literature new life. From the author’s fictitious preface, to Danny’s unexpected quest in search of an elusive author, to Captain Irena Sertorian’s quest across the universe, Tim Wirkus’s greatest accomplishment is making fiction feel more connected to reality than ever before.

The only fallback that I’ve come across is the sheer headiness of it all. Wirkus has provided a social commentary on the imbedded nature that stories have in our lives, and that is no easy feat, in that any critical dissection of the affect that story has on us, especially one that is done with a story, will be convoluted by nature. The result becomes a rabbit hole of stories within stories within stories, and this had me looking back to fact-check and remind myself of who was relaying whose monologue.

The Infinite Future is genre-bending, witty, and leaves the reader with a new lens on the absurdity that we confront every day. In one fell swoop, Wirkus has crafted an argument for every stories’ place in the universe, all while crafting a story that is page turning and hilariously human. By using a pulp genre as the glue that holds the story together, we receive a poignant reflection of the ways in which we craft and receive information. The Infinite Future holds the key to the next generation of fiction and, from here on, I’m never going to find a story without thinking about the endless connections that they create between us and the world we inhabit.

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