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The Incrementalists, by Steven Brust and Skyler White

Review copy provided by Tor. My additional involvement will become clear when you open the book: I’m in the acknowledgments for having read an early draft and commented upon it.

The final version is even better (and not, I think, because of anything I said!). When I was done I just sat with it for a moment. (Possibly that may be the writing-induced exhaustion talking, but I prefer to think of it as art appreciation.) But that’s just general squishy feelings. What’s in this book?

Well, there are immortals of sorts. Partial immortals? Memory immortals? There are some quasi-literalizations of memory palaces in ways that are awesome. There’s also poker and new relationships and the blessed ties that bind, gag, and throw you in the metaphorical trunk of the metaphorical car. (Okay, we all know I should not be allowed near metaphors when I’m tired. And yet I keep proving it.) There is trust misplaced and trust very well placed indeed.

Also there is Las Vegas and poker, and while I have minuscule interest in either of those things, there is a magical ability possibly induced by membership in/proximity to the Scribblies, to make me care about desert stories I would otherwise yawn and depart from. (CoughEmmacough.)

I have hopes that in future Incrementalists books (see what I did there?) we will see more of the distant-past memories, more of the pivots and switches that go way back. I liked the centuries-old bits of this one, and I liked the flashes of even more; I liked the layering, where someone with thousands of years of memories will find the new ones fresher in a way analogous to how last week is fresher to me when I was 4–except the important things that happened when I was 4.

This is urban fantasy not doing the same thing as a dozen other urban fantasies. It is a fast read. It is Zelazny-influenced without leaning too hard on the First Person Asshole narration that can sink a Zelazny. It is worth your time. And hey! Look at that! It comes out in the morning.

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