Twelve-year-old twins Jack and Jilly Doone reside in America; Kestrel, a mutant 17-year-old, lives in the distant future, where super-teched humans battle super-powered mutants for dominance. After Jack nearly drowns, he discovers his ability to alter reality. When he becomes a tester for his uncle’s new game, "Mutes and Norms"—which, incidentally, mirrors Kestrel’s post-apocalyptic world—the disparities between his own memories and reality blur. As Jack becomes enmeshed in the game, the odysseys toward adulthood and wars in both worlds approach collision—and potential destruction.
Eos. 304 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 006105285X
"Happily, Witcover’s writing is well up to the task of telling both of his parallel yet very different stories, and equally compelling in either setting. … It isn’t giving anything away to say that Witcover avoids any easy or conventional resolution at the end of Tumbling After while still managing to link his two stories in a meaningful and psychologically satisfying way; the dark conclusions of both narrative threads feel both right and tragically unavoidable." Pamela Sargent
"Paul Witcover may not be a household name, but he is a gifted, fiercely original writer whose genre-bending fiction deserves the widest possible attention. … [I]t is an affecting meditation on the vicissitudes of family life, on the bonds of twinship, on the nature of adolescent sexuality and on the random forces that can alter or destroy our fragile hold on reality." Bill Sheehan
Witcover’s second novel (1997’s Waking Beauty is his first) succeeds at all levels. It’s an ingenious coming-of-age story, a technological nightmare, and a comment on dystopia, game-playing, sexual awakening, and multiple realities. Though it hints of Philip K. Dick and other SF writers, Tumbling After is wholly original. Set in parallel universes, the novel boasts compelling settings and believable characters whose fates slowly merge. Witcover, who writes with authority and elegance, also mines psychological undertones, including the twins’ sexual tensions. SF fans should not miss Tumbling After; it will "repay thoughtful readers looking for something beyond the usual trite and overworked trappings of much fantasy" (SciFi.com).