Poet Gregory Sherl’s first novel, The Future for Curious People, is set in a world much like ours, but with one key difference: A scientific breakthrough has made it possible to see the future of relationships. A simple doctor’s visit and insurance co-pay is all it takes to see if the first-date awkwardness will melt into love or misery, to know if a relationship is worth saving, or even to see if your partner will have an awkward hairstyle 20 years in the future.
Enter Godfrey and Evelyn, two people who are lonely despite their seemingly happy relationships, romantic souls living in a world where they just don’t seem to fit. These are characters defined by their quirks—he wears mittens and has mother (and father) issues, she has a kleptomaniac best friend and a job as a librarian—but their eccentricities work a sort of charm, creating characters that are easy to love, even if they have trouble finding love themselves.
Underneath the sci-fi elements driving the plot, The Future for Curious People is really about love. It plays with our idea of true love, remixing it and even slightly mocking it, but always with a nostalgia that makes the story more sweet than sour. It gently reminds us that knowing the future isn’t the answer, but never judges us for wishing we knew more.
Is destiny real? Do soul mates exist? Is fate immutable? The Future for Curious People toys with these questions without drawing crystal-clear conclusions. In that way, it’s a lot like love itself.