Something about this cover really flashed me back to Fleishman is in Trouble and maybe that set me off it from the beginning. Nothing about the two books is the same (except maybe the setting of New York City) but man, the covers. Anyway!
Famous Men Who Never Lived uses the multiverse theory to talk about loss. Our main character is Hel (Helen – I did struggle reading “Hel” repeatedly. I would gloss over the “l” and then struggle with gender pronouns and figuring out which character I was focused on). Hel is a refugee from a world on the verge of nuclear annihilation. As everything melted down around them, a team of scientists found a tear in between the universes and opened a Gate. By random lottery, one hundred people at a time were chosen to take the one-way trip through the gate but only 150,000 made it through before their world was gone. 150,000 are all that is left of everything they knew.
Hel has become focused on a paperback novel a fellow UDP (Universally Displaced Person) brought with him called The Pyronauts. A famous author in their world, he died in childhood in this one and Hel has latched onto it like its an anchor. She wants to use this author as a focus for a museum to the world they lost, but hardly anyone is on board and this loss forces her to grapple with the larger one.
I’m describing it badly, but probably because it went a little bit in one ear and out the other. It’s not a bad read, but it’s not one I’m pushing other folks to read.