An underground comic creator reveals the unbelievably true origin story of her most famous creation, Sputnik Chick, the girl with no past.
In this arresting debut novel, Favro (The Proxy Bride, 2012) has crafted a delightful, timey-wimey gem that manages to temper its phantasmagorical imagery with the authentic pain of losing everything that one loves. The book’s protagonist is Debbie Reynolds Biondi, a pill-popping, hard-drinking cartoonist looking down the barrel of middle age even as her punky comic-book heroine continues to surge in popularity. But to keep her gig, Debbie is under pressure from her publisher and fans to reveal the origins of her graphic doppelgänger. That’s when the story comes off the ground like a flying car as Debbie reveals how she grew up in an alternate reality vastly removed from this one. In Debbie’s universe, dubbed “Atomic Mean Time,” when Robert Oppenheimer split the atom, it shattered time, creating a fractured spectrum of alternate realities. Debbie’s adolescence was spent terrified under the very real threat of nuclear war as America and Russia increased their nuclear arsenals in droves in a cold war that never ended. Yet there are also those mundane but unforgettable moments of adolescence, too, including time with friends and Debbie’s romance with handsome neighbor John Kendal. But again and again, Debbie encounters a mysterious time traveler she dubs “The Trespasser,” who warns of her inevitable fate as the sole person with the ability to bring time’s impossible divisions to an end, albeit at unthinkable personal cost. Favro walks an incredible narrative tightrope here, balancing present-day Debbie’s sad, inebriated reality with Atomic Mean Time Debbie’s frightening world of duck-and-cover exercises, DNA–enhanced “twisties,” and imminent nuclear threats. “I’ve always felt that The Girl With No Past was a revenge tragedy at heart,” a lover tells her. “There’s a darkness at its core. That’s what makes it so interesting.”
A noodle-bending literary sci-fi novel that puts its hero in the box with Schrödinger’s cat.