A struggling American writer, a Brazilian librarian, and a Mormon historian come together in a dubious mission to unearth a long-lost science-fiction masterpiece.
Wirkus (City of Brick and Shadow, 2014) delved into the lives of Mormon missionaries in his debut novel and here makes a science fictional play at The Book of Mormon with a lightly comical meditation on the search for meaning in literature. It begins in a very meta fashion as “Tim Wirkus” meets Danny Laszlo, an old Brigham Young University creative-writing classmate, who presses upon the author his translation of a story by an obscure Brazilian science-fiction writer. Sad-sack Danny picks up the narration, relating how he ended up in Sao Paolo on a deceitful writing scholarship from the Coalition of Aggrieved Christians, who want him to write a book about Mormon missionaries in Brazil. But a more intriguing mystery presents itself when Danny’s library liaison, Sérgio Antunes, gives him several stories by Eduard Salgado-MacKenzie, a long-forgotten sci-fi novelist whose most famous work was to be titled The Infinite Future. They find this description, written in his own hand: “Strictly speaking, THE INFINITE FUTURE is not a novel. It is, instead, a prose-poem epic that discerns in the imagined empires of the future the germ of humanity’s eventual henosis—its sublime and terrible union with the infinite future. It is, in other words, a prophetic text on a par with the Holy Bible or the I Ching.” (Spoiler alert: it is not.) Next we get a prolonged road trip during which Danny and Sergio connect with Dr. Harriet Kimball, a disgruntled Mormon historian, to track down the mysterious author in the wilds of Idaho. The revelation that follows is a surprise by itself, but then Wirkus offers more than 150 pages of The Infinite Future, a pulpy yet literary nugget that reads like a cross between Flash Gordon and The Seventh Seal.
An experimental, deeply meta novel about the search for meaning and the disappointments of reality.