It’s just another Saturday for Alex. Having nothing else to do — and no one to do it with — Alex is at work. He might very well be the only person at the lab that day, which means that when the fire starts, he has a small chance of being able to take care of it before anyone can find out. He manages to put the flames out, but the alarms go off all the same, and so does the sprinkler system, dousing him in cold, stagnant water. Then it gets worse. The Accelerator begins to make noise, which is never a good sign (especially for the lab rats). Then his legs start to, well, vanish before his eyes. Then comes the pain, and then …
Baylin Davies has a bit of a crush on his patient. The unconscious young man has been his responsibility, and his obsession, for some time now. Imagine his surprise when the young man opens his eyes and asks if he’s in heaven. Then he’s saying something about being too hot, or too cold. Before Baylin can make sense of the man’s words, he’s back asleep. He woke up once, and Baylin is certain that he’ll wake up again. Unfortunately, Baylin’s not the only one keeping an eye on their guest. Major Marcais, too, has been visiting the patient, something that triggers all of Baylin’s internal alarms and makes him worry for Alex’s future.
Before Baylin can worry too much about the Major, his patient wakes up and ends up being not only handsome, but charming, as well. Alex and Baylin hit it off, even with Alex’s strange way of speaking and understandable confusion. After all, it isn’t every day someone travels 200 years into the future! The bond between Alex and Baylin keeps growing as the days pass and Baylin shows Alex around the facility, introducing him to what he can of the new world around him. Unfortunately for Alex and Baylin, the High Council isn’t certain they can let the young time traveler stay with them. In the days to come, they’ll have to come to a decision on whether to let him stay, or whether they ought to return him to his own time.
If Baylin and Alex have any say in the matter — though they don’t — Alex would be staying in the here and now, not returning to the past. The two of them have found something with each other that neither man is willing to simply give up. Alex wants Baylin and, miraculously, Baylin wants him back! But if Baylin wants to have a real chance at keeping Alex in this time, he might have to make a deal with the devil, the powerful and mysterious Major Marcais who has eyes for Alex, and whose kiss Alex can’t quite seem to get out of his head.
In 2230: The Perfect Year, we never really get to know much about Alex other than that he’s lovely, has no close friends or family, and likes movies. He’s cheerful, gregarious, and neither overly smart or overly stupid. He’s just … a guy. He takes the transition in time easily and never really seems to miss anything about his own time. He doesn’t think about his job, television shows he’s missed, or what happened in the world while he wasn’t in it. He’s just as happy and indifferent in the future as he was in the past, with the only difference being that the future has the benefit of having Baylin in it, with whom he is instantly smitten.
Baylin is a bit of an outcast in his world. His father was, like Major Marcais, a Zarinian who completely dominated his mother, emotionally and verbally abusing her while neglecting — when he wasn’t belittling or sneering at — his only son. His mother was broken by the constant abuse and, due to her own suffering, had no ability to love or protect her child, eventually choosing to take her own life. Baylin was ten at the time, completely abandoned by his father, and went into a sort of foster system, given food and shelter and a place in society, but no family or stability.
He and Alex have that shared bond of two outsiders, two people who don’t really belong anywhere who manage to find one another across all the impossibility of time. Their initial interest in one another is purely physical, but as they get to know one another, Baylin thinks Alex is charming and Alex thinks Baylin is smart, brave, and pretty much wonderful. I would have preferred a bit more showing and less telling as they got to know one another. While they had nothing but compliments for one another, both Alex and Baylin’s thoughts revolved mostly around how beautiful Alex was or how hot Baylin was. But, when Marcais makes his move on Alex, we get to see Alex’s strength of character as he manages to make up his own mind without help or the heavy influence of Zarinian pheromones.
There’s very little world building here, with the author relying on the vague, well-worn sci-fi tropes of white hallways, automatic doors, and space ships without giving the story or the world either flavor or shape. While it’s well-written and well-paced, I don’t think there’s any re-readability, and not enough character development to make me want to read more about Alex, Baylin, or Marcais. The men’s stories and personalities are almost all told to us through exposition with very little of it showing in their personalities. This was a cute, light, and sometimes honestly charming novella, but it’s all very much surface deep.