Divided By Infinity is a 1998 short story by Robert Charles Wilson about a man that gets more than he bargains for when he finds some unusual books.
NON SPOILER SUMMARY
Bill Keller contemplates suicide a lot. He’s old and bored and his wife has passed away. Life has lost its spark. One day he stops by the bookstore where his wife used to work and he stumbles across some unusual books. Old science fiction novels by famous authors, books that he can’t believe he’s never read. He delves into reading and researching these odd books, only to find out that they are fakes. But how can that be? The style of writing, the illustrations, everything about them is authentic! Bill is determined to solve this mystery, and in doing so, he discovers that he can never die, or, that he already has died… an infinite number of times. Puzzling? Yes! In a fascinating science-fiction-y way!
I loved how this story started out seeming very normal, even mundane, yet gradually and steadily got more bizarre and extreme. The setting was the same: it started out warm and cozy, in a used book store, detailed down to the dust and the smells, and ended up in a bright, brisk, cold environment that went hand in hand with the happenings in the story. The author skillfully allowed the tension and mystery to build, rewarding us with an unusual, yet believable climax. An interesting read with some thought provoking theories, I give Divided By Infinity two thumbs up! (I also enjoyed reading through the comments left by other readers, it’s amazing the things people pick up on! Anagrams, for one, are something I would never notice.)
- Word Count: 8,863
- Page Count: 26
- Published: 1998
- About the Author: Robert Charles Wilson has received a Hugo Award and a Philip K. Dick Award. Read more about this talented author at his website or at Wikipedia.
WHERE TO FIND THIS STORY
You can read Divided By Infinity for free at Tor.