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Summary

Two events made September first a memorable day for Jesse Cullum. First, he lost a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Second, he saved the life of President Ulysses S. Grant.

In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson's Last Year, the technology exists to open doorways into the past - but not our past, not exactly. Each "past" is effectively an alternate world, identical to ours but only up to the date on which we access it. And a given "past" can be reached only once. After a passageway is open, it's the only road to that particular past; once closed, it can't be reopened.

A passageway has been opened to a version of late 19th-century Ohio. It's been in operation for most of a decade, but it's no secret on either side of time. A small city has grown up around it to entertain visitors from our time, and many locals earn a good living catering to them. But like all such operations, it has a shelf life; as the "natives" become more sophisticated, their version of the "past" grows less attractive as a destination.

Jesse Cullum is a native. And he knows the passageway will be closing soon. He's fallen in love with a woman from our time, and he means to follow her back - no matter whose secrets he has to expose in order to do it.

©2016 Robert Charles Wilson (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

What members say

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kevin
  • Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 18-03-18

Wrong focus

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Robert Charles Wilson completists & western fans

Has Last Year put you off other books in this genre?

No

What three words best describe Scott Brick’s performance?

Excellent, involving & professional

Any additional comments?

I felt it had an interesting idea but then focused on the wrong things. It developed characters that weren’t relevant & followed a storyline that didn’t take advantage of the concept

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rob Hymer
  • Middlesbrough, North-East England
  • 22-10-17

Return to form for Wilson

After a few dodgy titles, this feels like a return to form for Wilson. Good story, good narrator and good production, in all highly recommended.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable

Not amazing and not quite what I expected but it kept me comming back for more if there was a book 2 I think I'd buy it!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent - really enjoyed this

This is a terrific novel. It's sort of like Westworld with time-travel. There are crimes to be solved, a love interest, great character development and a race against time before the passage from the future to the past closes forever.

I really, really enjoyed it. People from our century landing in 1879, stunning them with our inventions (iPhones, helicopters etc) and exploiting them, of course. The 1879ers are by turns outraged, bemused and generally entertained by 21st century notions of inclusivity and tolerance. Perfect ending for a sequel.

Of course, part of the appeal for me is Scott Brick, probably the most brilliant narrator I have ever listened to. If you haven't read The Passage trilogy, well, you have a treat in store.

Highly recommended. Pure pleasure.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • NMwritergal
  • 09-12-16

I RCW keeps writing for years to come

I discovered Robert Charles Wilson some 25 years ago and have read all his books--I started with Memory Wire (loved it). It's a pity his earlier books aren't on audio. Some of his books I like and some I love, but he's about the only author (in any genre) who I can count on to at least deliver a book I enjoy, and when you read/listen to about 300 books a year, this is a pretty big deal.

This one I liked. It has his usual melancholy tone, characters fully developed, plot about more than action/adventure--though there is always that. He's always thinking deeply about something in his writing (technology, social issues, psychological issues, etc.) and then builds a story around it.

I appreciate that a piece of the story is always about a relationship--which is NEVER something stupid like insta-love and uses none of the horrible romance tropes.

Ok, I'm now going to listen to Bridge of Years, which I read in 1991 or so when it first came out. I recall liking that one very much...

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • kwdayboise (Kim Day)
  • 18-04-17

Great Action in a Time Travel Story

It’s ironic that what is probably the least likely of science fiction tropes, time travel, also offers some of the richest possibilities in the genre, with the possible exception of alternate history, which runs along the same lines but can only go one direction.

Robert Charles Wilson has created in this latest book a future universe in which time travel to the past has become possible, though the source of this boon is mysterious and debated. Some believe the mirror-like path to the past was created by a combination of academic and industrial knowhow. Others suspect that humans from the far future brought the technology with them and those future humans are now captives in Area 51.

In any case, the window is now in the hands of a corporation which runs Futurity City. The corporation profits in multiple ways. People from the current timeline can pay a hefty fee to travel back to the past to spend time there. The man who runs the city also works with the “locals” in the past, promising them modern technology such as medical cures for five years of access to that timeline. Although it’s thought that the timelines being visited are alternate realities, so that changes can’t affect the future, it’s been decided that five years is the maximum allowable time to avoid creating distortions in history. Through these contacts a great deal of gold from the past also manages to make its way into the corporation’s coffers.

Jesse Collum is a security guard, a local working in Futurity City, who has been assigned guard duty for a visit from President U. S. Grant. He manages to stop a gunman who has brought a weapon from the future, something forbidden, to attempt to assassinate Grant. An investigation into the origins of that gun takes Jesse into his own past in San Francisco where he learns some ugly secrets about Futurity City as it begins to crumble.

Wilson has written some amazing action scenes into this book with a broad variety of heroes and villains, some from the future but many from his own time period.

The setting allows Wilson to explore social differences between the 1870s and the future. To Jesse’s eyes the future does not seem much better with the exception of medical advances, and to many other locals the future, with it’s mingling of races, feminism, and gay marriages sounds like a horror. So the reader is also challenged to face and assess modern progress with a “ripping read” as they say for a reward.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew Pollack
  • 13-01-17

Time Travel w/o Paradox Issues

Suppose you could go back and change things and it didn't matter? What are the ethics of a time travel theme park? As always, Wilson explores the concept from the standpoint of human society interacting with something new. There's a solid plot and great characters here struggling with their own lives in the midst of the mix of old and new. What does our modern society look like to someone from the US just after the Civil War? How do our 21st century expectations fare in the era of the wild west? Come visit the past -- but best you get your immunizations first, watch where you eat, and stay on the marked paths.

As always, Scott Brick does a great job with the narration. No cliffhangers here. This story comes to a conclusion but leaves plenty of room for a follow-up. I look forward to that very much.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Pree Bee
  • 05-05-18

didn't think I would like it...

I didn't think I would like it, however I had spent the credit so I better at least try an hour.
and then I was hooked. not only is the writing interesting but the concept was even more so. the ethics and philosophy behind time travel, corporations, how science is used, when people think they are doing good but are actually doing harm were all very interesting and emails topics to me. I wanted to go deeper into it.

the lighter parts, ie. there sharing of future music with ppl from the 1880s was so enjoyable. I would have wanted to hear more on it. the simple use of language change from the 1880s to now was also so fun to see as the main character and Elizabeth interacted as well as others.

Scott Brick did an amazing job narrating. one of my favs.

I'm giving it 4 stars, because... I want more. and the ending left me hanging. sequel?

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Billings
  • 30-04-18

a book that reaches far beyond it's premise

As someone who can't stand most historical fiction, I was surprised at how engaging this book was. it's worth a try even if the synopsis doesn't sound appealing.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-02-18

Interesting at least

Don't know if I read it wrong or what but this was not what I expected. I thought I was getting a story about time travel into different versions of the past.
This story is from the perspective of one of the people in the past where a time portal has been set up and a city has been built around it. There is no time travel taking place. Only the interaction of people from the future with people from the past in a specific setting for a specified time.

With that said... This was an excellent read. Enjoyed the story and the premise was good and believable.

The narrator did a good job as well. Well written and well read.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • 18-07-17

Man cannot be trusted with time travel

What made the experience of listening to Last Year the most enjoyable?

It was an exciting story because of the general subject matter and because of local happenings.

What did you like best about this story?

The surprises and the way messing with time didn't cause any massive time paradoxes.

Which scene was your favorite?

There were a few. Showing Thomas Edison his inventions was neat.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

It was a different type of time travel story, but it was enjoyable to listen to.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gregory T. Anderson
  • 22-05-17

A Neat Concept But Poorly Executed

Would you try another book from Robert Charles Wilson and/or Scott Brick?

As for the author, I really don't think so. He takes what is a rather unique application of the "Alternate Universe" and bogs it down with extraneous details and rather boring plot developments.

The narration was good and unobtrusive, but it didn't blow me away. However, I don't think I would avoid the narrator to the same degree I will probably avoid the author.

What character would you cut from Last Year?

The wealthy proprietor, August Kemp, was pretty flat and unbelievable, making important decisions with no explanation of his motivation.

Any additional comments?

1.) It felt like really important details and explanations were missing… Perhaps edited out by the publisher? If that's the case, you can't really blame the author, but he really needs to find a new publisher.

2.) This is obviously the beginning of a Series, but, unless this introduction is seriously revised and reworked at some point in the future, I sure don't see that as being a successful endeavor.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Public Name 123
  • 30-01-17

Enjoyed the new take on a time travel piece

Interesting story with it's own nuances. The author seemed to have taken their time in giving language to the 1800's as they may have used. The story gives an interesting take on time travel from a person living in the present trying to take in all that comes with the city of the future.

with checking out.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Matt Gambill
  • 16-01-18

Fun book

I found the plot to be intriguing. The concept of a portal back to post civil war America was an interesting backdrop. Scott Brick is always a great narrator and didn't disappoint.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful