“Lovers of alternate histories will find much that fascinates in this bold experiment in timelines and trauma.”
“Part dystopian, part all-too-familiar reality ... Branches walks an imaginative line between what we think we know and what actually is.”
—Stories on Stage Davis
What readers are saying:
“Sci-Fi with both brains & a heart ... A brilliantly insightful debut. ★★★★★”
“I did not want to put it down, and I did not stop
thinking about it after. ★★★★★”
“In a few years this will really be ‘that’ 2020 book. ★★★★★”
2021. The pandemic never happened here. That’s the bad news. Now there are tanks in the streets. The good news is that there’s a way out. Amid the chaos, one person is given the chance to escape their dystopian reality. But what will they find on the other side?
For one man, the past few years have delivered one shock after another. The election of an authoritarian president. The sudden loss of his mother. A series of debilitating seizures. Now, as America rapidly descends into a fascist police state, he’s shocked to discover the explanation for his seizures: He’s in the wrong universe.
A drug trial promises to return him to the timeline where he belongs. But it might be too good to be true.
Branches is The Man in the High Castle for the doomscrolling age, a fast-paced metaphysical journey that combines the history-bending science fiction of Philip K. Dick and the emotionally-rich dystopian worlds of Margaret Atwood with a sharp, original voice from author Adam Peter Johnson.
Take a journey through the multiverse and explore the roads not taken. Question the nature of fate. And find an answer to the biggest question of all: what would it take for one person to truly change things? Branches: A Novel will make you look at the world in a new way in this deeply personal journey through fear, grief and redemption.
Excerpt from the opening chapter
I’m standing at the water’s edge when the phone call comes, sand to my ankles, sinking deeper with each advance of the waves breaking on the beach. Nolan is laughing, suspended in the air, his little arms linked between Meredith and me, his feet strafing the water as it rushes past. I don’t want to answer. So I keep tracking the rhythm of the waves, the salty spray against nearby rocks. I search for another distraction, my son straining my arm as he whipsaws beside me, giddy as he’s dragged by the water flowing back out to sea.
Along the shore, a black ground beetle scampers toward a driftwood refuge, tiny barbed legs knifing it forward. But it’s wiped out by the surf before it has a chance. Seems about right.
Up the beach, Dad’s swaying on the old weathered rocking bench where I once spent countless hours, where a few years ago my parents and I had taken one last picture together. And beyond, past the sand berm at the beach’s far edge, the worn siding of my childhood home, same as it ever was. But today it feels like a memory that belongs to someone else. I’m trying to remember what I’d hoped to gain by coming back here. I told Meredith it was to let Nolan have some quality time with his grandpa, to awaken the same love of the trees and the trails that I’d found at his age. Walkie talkie hide-and-seek, plastic bow and arrows with rubber nipple tips, the whole bit. And Dad deserves some time with family again. But if I’m honest, I came for me. To escape. And right now it feels like a mistake. This is what Nolan needs, not me. I’m closer to forty than four yet I feel so much older.
I told people it was the election that broke me. But that’s not the truth. Sure, my feeds were melting down. They always are. Apocalypse now and forever, amen. No, it was the silence after that did it. The sight of everyone going about their days as if the world hadn’t ended. All those years, ceaselessly hoping to stop the inevitable.
There was no way He could win again. Not now. Not after everything that’s happened. And of course He didn’t win. Not really. We all knew it but it didn’t matter. Because apparently nothing matters. And so everyone just kept moving through their daily loops like wind-up toys, in denial, defeated or just oblivious. Nothing short of innocents being gunned down in the street could shake them, and then not even that. I don’t know. Some people said I was overreacting, which, let’s face it, doesn’t help when the problem is that no one seems to be reacting at all. Worse still were those who either decided or revealed they were actually happy about it.
Meredith said she understood. Nolan couldn’t possibly, which was for the best. At least he had an excuse.
“Take it.” Meredith reminds me of the call still ringing out against the crush of the waves. “It’s going to be good news.” But I don’t think she means it. Then again, any answer is better than no answer. The voice on the other end of the line doesn’t waste time with pleasantries.
“How soon can you get back to the hospital? Your results are here. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk about it.”