May 24, 2023

Hannah Fergesen: "The Infinite Miles" (ARC Review)

Title: The Infinite Miles [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Hannah Fergesen [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2023
Age: 16+ (technically an adult book, but it can be read by mature and even younger teens)
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Inventive, heartfelt twist on the time-travel trope. Ode to the power of friendship and hope.
Cons: You have to buy into a specific branch of time travel in order to suspend your disbelief (click on the link at your own risk - it will spoil part of the fun...).
WARNING! Contains some violence and a dose of dark imagery (face scars, black blood, stabbing).
Will appeal to: Fans of Doctor Who (especially the Matt Smith era). People who know how to love ardently (and fight for what they love).

Blurb: Three years after her best friend Peggy went missing, Harper Starling is lost. All she has are regrets and reruns of her favorite science fiction show, Infinite Odyssey. Then Peggy returns and demands to be taken to the Argonaut, the fictional main character of Infinite Odyssey. But the Argonaut is just that...fictional. Until the TV hero himself appears and spirits Harper away from her former best friend. Traveling through time, he explains that Peggy used to travel with him but is now under the thrall of an alien enemy known as the Incarnate. Then he leaves Harper in 1971. Stranded in the past, Harper must find a way to end the Incarnate’s thrall...without the help of the Argonaut. And if Harper can’t find it in herself to believe - in the Argonaut, in Peggy, and most of all, in herself - she’ll be the Incarnate’s next casualty, along with the rest of the universe. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on Edelweiss. Thanks to Blackstone Publishing for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


Let's address the elephant in the room first: if the synopsis gives you strong Doctor Who vibes, it's intentional. Ferguson does pay homage to the iconic British show and its titular character in the form of the Argonaut, a time traveler who trades the Doctor's space vessel masquerading as a blue police box for his own spaceship disguised as a black muscle car (and occasionally a lime-green VW bus). However, despite taking its cue from the long-lived TV series, The Infinite Miles isn't anything like fan fiction made novel. The disillusioned and bitter Argonaut couldn't be more different from whatever incarnation of the Doctor (even troubled time-war-survivor Nine and grumpy post-regeneration Twelve) if he tried. And for all their parallels and (often clever and oblique) similarities, the novel puts a number of spins on its source material and creates its own independent mythology, while ultimately conveying the same message of hope and love (self-love, too) being the biggest weapons. Let's put it this way: if you're a Doctor Who aficionado, you'll gobble this book up. If you've never seen the show, but you like time-travel stories that span both the Earth and the stars, and sci-fi with a heart, you'll love The Infinite Miles nevertheless - and maybe pick up Doctor Who because of it. [...]


Though the story is told from Harper's POV, we get a couple of chapters from the Argonaut's perspective, one of them shedding a light on his current fatalist, disengaged attitude (but also providing a number of surprises and reveals that will make you love him nevertheless), all while drawing a further parallel between him and Harper in terms of, how should I call it, origin story. Truth be told, when they first meet, the Argonaut and Harper have more in common than they realise, and after losing Peggy, they're both going through the motions. But when the Argonaut leaves her stranded in 1971 (for her own protection), Harper can choose if rebuild herself and her life...quite literally, in a way...or take a cue from her supposedly fictional, in fact very much real (and bitter) hero, and turn her back to Peggy - and the future as she knows it. And she isn't going to give up on her old life and her old friend without putting up a fight. From here spans an adventure in time and space, but also a journey in the human heart, full of twists, turns and poignant moments, involving a sentient ship masquerading as a muscle car that (who?) is one of the most resourceful and memorable side character I've ever encountered, and will most certainly win your affection as well.


Mind you - The Infinite Miles isn't what you might call an intergalactic space romp. It deals a lot more with time displacement than with planet-hopping, and in case you aren't sure if spending time in the past is your thing (which on average isn't mine either, at least when that past is too far removed from my reality), Ferguson paints a vivid and fascinating (miniature) picture of 1971-72 New York, complete with Star Trek conventions and - alas - Women's Liberation dismissals. The only thing I didn't particularly care for was the hook-up between Harper and the Infinite Odyssey writer Anthony Detweiler - it was hard for me to buy into their relationship (I'm using the word in a broad sense), because even taking into account Harper's peculiar situation, everything about it felt rushed, not to mention a tad too convenient. But it was a minor annoyance (speaking of which, I was a little bummed out by the handful of typos/errors I spotted, like the three instances of "naval" for "navel". I know this isn't a finished copy, but oof) in the face of a lovely story. If you enjoy flawed characters time-traveling their way through grief and anger and queerness and alien threats in an impossible spaceship to the tune of a rock soundtrack, and you believe that love can move mountains (or remake planets...sort of), this book is for you.

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  1. NYC in the 70s (I was there but very young). I love stories of friendship and it sounds like it had a lot of really interesting elements of the genre. Happy to see such a high rating from you.

    1. I didn't know you lived in NY for a while!

      A unique kind of friendship, but yeah.

  2. That sounds interesting. I like that time period since I was a little kid around then. Looking back at things from my childhood like Star Trek is fun. Thanks for letting us know about this one.

    1. Star Trek does play a fairly big role in this one!

  3. I'm not sure how I feel about that particular form of time travel (yes I clicked the link. Impulse control) Time travel with a heart always gets me though. Your last sentence has me convinced too. 1971 plus rock...

    1. Ha! I'm often tempted to click on links that might spoiler something.

      Yep, it's not for everyone...sometimes I wonder why I like it so much, since I tend to overthink things and examine them from a logical POV. Then again, I'm intrigued by that trope. The book heavily hinges on it, so you have to be sure you're on board with that - but on the other hand, this is a story that I can see you liking, at the very least.

    2. It's an interesting trope, and I love time travel simply because there ARE so many possible theories or ways it can work. The trope alone wouldn't turn me off a book if it's got intriguing ideas. :)

    3. "I love time travel simply because there ARE so many possible theories or ways it can work"
      I would love to buddy-read a sci-fi book with you one day...πŸ™‚

  4. I think I would enjoy this. I have to admit I could never get into Doctor Who, but maybe a DW inspired book would work😁

    1. Ouch! Then again, this is the story from one of the Doctor's companions' POV that DW fans never got, so maybe it would hit you differently...

  5. Definitely giving off the Doctor Who vibes but it's nice the author paid homage while, successfully, giving it his own original spin.

    Great review too Roberta!

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. It's funny, because I read a review that called this book "Doctor Who fan fiction", while in my own I had already stated that it wasn't "anything like fan fiction made novel" πŸ˜‚. I mean, I do think that it put enough of a spin on DW to be able to create something original and unexpected while paying homage to it...

      "Great review too Roberta!"
      Thank you! 😊 Glad to know my efforts weren't in vain LOL.

  6. I quite enjoyed this one too! I found the relationship a little "off"- like I actually think I liked it more than you, but I wanted more payoff than we got? Anyway, I really enjoyed how it was basically a love letter to fandom, really! And it was entertaining too! Great review, glad you liked it too!

    1. I get what you're saying about the relationship, but I guess Harper will ultimately get back to her own era, so it would have been doomed from the start...I appreciated the lack of angst about it, frankly πŸ˜‰. Also, I wholeheartedly agree about the book being a love letter to fandom - of the healthy kind...


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