Sci-Fi Novels

‘The Chaos Function’ Review: The Art of Reworking an Apocalypse

The Chaos Function is an expertly crafted journey through the apocalypse, barreling down a winding road of terrifyingly real possibilities. What starts as a typical war reporter story becomes so much more, revealing a technology with a long and questionable history that defies understanding. Skillingstead presents us with a protagonist who is an expert at questioning the world, creating a sharp canvas for this compelling sci-fi tale. I was entranced from the start by the writing and by the brilliant plot twists that lead to a number of startling advances. It’s science fiction meets alternate history meets apocalypse, and you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve followed the explosive revelations to the end.

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Spoilers beyond this point, so beware!

Skillingstead pulls from a number of sub-genres including time travel, high-tech, alternate history, and apocalyptic sci-fi. Everything is crafted in a way that’s extremely believable, creating a sense of unease that continues after each dive into the alternate realm of probabilities. We watch the world go from bad to worse to unimaginable, an apocalypse where the world might actually end. It’s easy to see through apocalypse fiction, but The Chaos Function is structured in a way that makes it feel real. We’re seeing everything unfold from a reporter’s perspective, filled as it is with little details and an abundance of sources. It’s easy to imagine yourself trying to outrun the chaos.

Beyond the world collapse is a discussion about the choices we make and how impactful our tiniest action can be. Changing a person’s decision can result in the entire world falling apart. Altering who drives a car for a pickup can mean destruction, or the diversion of a crisis. Giving world-altering power to anyone is begging for corruption, and that power struggle for control provides another compelling plot line throughout.

The Chaos Function is the kind of book you won’t be able to stop talking about. Get ready to spend loads of time imagining how history and all of its atrocities or triumphs could have been altered by a single change.

The Chaos Function
By Jack Skillingstead
John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

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