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The Diner at the Dawn of the Universe
David Bonn, author
Having fun with philosophy in an omnipotence-free environment. Follow me on a quest to find a kinder and gentler theory of everything.
Bonn’s playful debut centers on life at Dave’s Diner, outside of time itself, where “it’s always just right now, right before whatever’s happening on the planet earth.” There, “Entropy Rules,” “Symmetry Drools,” and new arrivals from across time–whether Einstein the elephant, the “alien jelly roll creature” known as the PAST (for “Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates Triumvirate”), or a seemingly normal woman from twentieth century America –are expected to put on a nametag and order up some food. People come to the diner to discover their own "theory of everything" before returning to the chaos of their everyday lives. As Dave, the current proprietor, familiarizes newbie Jane with the rules of the establishment, she begins to make a connection with the place, its visitors, and life, the universe, and everything.

This compact but searching novel draws inspiration from Douglas Adams and other speculative, philosophical, humorous fiction. Incident and expansive colloquy abound, with implications both cosmic and deeply human. The strongest narrative thread involves Ouroboros, a vigilant traffic cop, endeavors to enforce the “Entropic Articles of Incorporation” on all customers. Dave grapples with the suspicion that Ouroboros possesses omnipotence—and the implications of what this might mean for the existence of free will in this part of the universe.

While quirky customers keep things lively, the diner’s outside-of-time quality extends to narrative momentum, as this is a story of ideas, characters, conversations, and a respite from the hurlyburly of life in the timestream. While the conversational approach limits tension, the revelation that Dave might be a quanti, someone capable of existing in two places simultaneously, comes as an intriguing shock, and Bonn blends insights, conceptual challenges, and welcome comedy throughout this homey visit. A conversation about the nature of a creator suggests there’s more to explore, here, and readers of heady, inviting SF with a hangout vibe will hunger for a second serving.

Takeaway: Chatty, searching SF comedy, over coffee and outside of time itself.

Comparable Titles: Douglas Adams, Charles Yu.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B-