Here, There and Everywhere
(Pyr, $15.00, 282 pages, paperback, also available as hardback published
5 April 2005.)
As outlined in the author's afterword, Here, There and Everywhere
has a rather more convoluted history than most novels. It started out
as part of a challenge to write a novel in 72 hours. The inevitably
short and rough outcome of the dare was a novella, Out of Joint,
which went on to form the nucleus for the short novel Any Time at
All, which earned praise in various places, including here at infinity
plus. A further rewrite, and expansion, at last, brings us to the
current volume, Here, There and Everywhere. Phew.
The novel is episodic and fragmented, as it takes us through the long
life of the charmingly funny and knowing adventurer Roxanne Bonaventure.
That these episodes sometimes seem a bit too abbreviated and
glancing might reflect the way this novel accreted around the author
as much as it reflects the simple fact that Roberson is trying to pack
a hell of a lot in to what is still a relatively short novel (282 pages).
It all starts in a prologue where a documentary-maker makes a connection:
the young woman with the blonde bob pictured at an early Beatles gig
in Hamburg is the same blonde bobbed woman photographed the next year
back at the Cavern. And the same woman is seen on a neighbouring rooftop
at the famous impromptu performance on the roof of the Beatles' Apple
offices in 1969. And she doesn't appear to have aged a day in all this
The bobbed blonde is, of course, our heroine, Roxanne Bonaventure,
visiting the key points in the various histories of her favourite band.
The word histories is used advisedly: this isn't simple time
travel -- Roxanne skips from one wordline to another, for this is an
explication of the many worlds theory, with worldlines splitting off
at every decision point, every either/or, from the quantum level upwards.
In other words, anything that might have been is (or was, or
will be), a conclusion Roxanne explores as her travels take her ever-farther
from her base worldline.
The mechanics of it all? Well Roberson does a convincing enough job
of explaining the theoretical background without dwelling on it for
too long, and Roxanne's travelling is facilitated by a magical doodah
given to her by an ailing old woman early on in the story. (Okay: not
magical, but as good as for most of the story, and tidily explained
at the end -- but that's not really the point: it's the getting there
that is the point in this highly enjoyable tale, not the mcguffin or
the scientific rationale.)
Here, There and Everywhere is a lot of fun, but it's more than
just that, too. In Roxanne we have a sharp portrait of a kid who can't
quite manage to fit in -- she's too inquisitive, too assertive, too
smart by much more than half -- and who, anyway, doesn't want
to fit in. Which is just swell, because when you spend your life lurching
from one worldline to another you're always going to be the outsider.
There are some wonderful moments in this novel, from the early scene
where Roxanne's father is called in to school because Roxanne has been
causing trouble, and proves even harder to deal with than his daughter,
to the affectionate pastiches of Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones and
even Dr Who, which, while having a definite air of digression,
entertainingly take centre stage just past the halfway mark.
There's a sense with Here, There and Everywhere of a story that
builds up a head of steam which it can't quite handle by the end, but
then it's a hell of a head of steam, and Roberson does an admirable
job of trying to pull it all back into shape at the conclusion. Not
without its flaws, I liked Here, There and Everywhere a lot.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: