News from the Squares is the second in the News From book trilogy by Robert Llewellyn about an accidental time traveler visiting the future(s).
Leaving Gardenia in 2211, Gavin Meckler expects to fly his plane back to 2011, but when he crashes in a city center and finds that he has traveled through time again…to 2211…he learns that you can not only travel in time forward and backward but also sideways. He is in a different possible future. Unlike News from Gardenia, which took a lackadaisical stroll through Llewellyn’s fictional (although very possible) future with no real pressing conflicts for our protagonist, News from the Squares is rife with conflict. (In fact, there’s even a spy-film museum break-in scene!) In a world where men have been bred into the minority because history suggests that all men are rapists and murderers who want to overpower women and start wars, the world is about to vote on whether they should continue on this path of male extinction or whether they should actively seek out plans for rebuilding the male population. Poor hapless Gavin couldn’t have arrived at a better time. As he is evidence in the flesh that not all men from “the dark ages” were wicked, he’s dragged around the world to sit on political panels and television shows to argue for the continuation of his gender.
Robert Llewellyn is a TV presenter, actor, and author. He is best known for playing Kryten on Red Dwarf and also hosted Scrapheap Challenge. His web shows are Car Pool and Fully Charged. He has authored many fiction and non-fiction books. @bobbyllew
This series’ biggest strength is that Gavin is a flawed individual while simultaneously being an average 2011 bloke. Although sometimes his feelings rear their head in an unannounced outburst, most of the time, Gavin likes to keep his head down and work on machines. Whether in casual conversation or the psychotherapy sessions that occur in this book, Gavin struggles to accept that he has emotions let alone pinpoint what those emotions are. He certainly feels lust and gives in to adultery (in the first book he cheats on his wife and impregnates a woman of Gardenia). Nobody wants their leading man to ogle every passing woman, but Gavin is in a world filled with powerful women and like I said, he’s an average 2011 bloke. He’s also slightly homophobic, which makes things awkward finding himself in a world of feminized men who like shopping for clothes, but like most men of our modern era, he’s overly aware his squeamishness is not kosher and makes conscious attempts to get over it. Gavin is real, and he is likable not despite his flaws but because of them.
Llewellyn’s future gadgets, transport, and personality evolution are fun, too, of course. Being on the cutting edge of tech, he’s at the right place to know what’s about to hit it big just before the rest of the world jumps on the bandwagon, so although this book was published a couple years ago, it’s heavily into 3D printing (everything from shoes to sperm to bacon) and a Bitcoin financial structure (your money is a number embedded into your person and not kept in a bank, and you can pass money from person to person with a shake of the hand). It also gives us a little humility, when we realize that in 200 years, our technology is going to look as archaic as any “tech” they had in 1815.
You can get the book in paper, e-book, or audio at unbound. It’s on Amazon and stuff, too.