The teleportation machine was supposed to give Zero everything he desired: status, respect, remembrance, and a permanent place among the elites in their golden, floating city. But on that fateful night, when he threw open the doors to his purpose-built theatre to showcase his cunning, everything went wrong. Instead of teleporting himself across the stage, his years-in-the-making machine goes up in a spectacular puff of smoke. Now, Zero is at the very bottom of society—a laughing stock in a place that values nothing more than great successes worthy of being remembered.
However much Zero’s machine failed to teleport a forty-first century life form across a stage, that same machine very much succeeded in warping a twenty-first century human to that same stage. His name is Logan and he is befuddled by the flying cars, the aversion to raw fruit, the dedication to fabulous fashion, and the non-human species that bear a striking resemblance to the cats and snakes of his own time. Both men want to find a way to get Logan home, but with Zero’s reputation in shambles, finding the means to repair Zero’s invention is nearly insurmountable. Yet Zero is determined to repair the machine, to send Logan home, and maybe even redeem himself. With Logan’s help, the task of repairing the machine soon turns unexpectedly fraught. All because Zero never expected to feel anything for a man out of time. But each day they spend together brings them closer to one another. Each day also brings Zero that much closer to losing the best thing he never knew he wanted: Logan.
Love Logan is a get-together story by Tilly Keyes that takes place largely in the 41st century amid a very changed planet Earth. Culturally, the world Zero comes from measures everything in terms of success and worthiness of being remembered. Concepts like love are, if not taboo, then certainly worthy of ridicule. For the purposes of this story, the world building feels well structured around what’s important or relevant for the characters. I also appreciated that most of the differences are consistently present throughout the story. For example, it’s established early on that physical body modification (including replacing severed appendages) is commonplace. Citizens are housed, fed, and transported through a sort of socialized system. For anyone not famous enough to live in a special city for the elites, as long as they work, their basic needs seem to be provided for. Yet those who fall too far out of the norms, like Zero very nearly does, those basic securities are threatened. This means that Zero, and any others unfortunate enough to lose all respectability AND their employment, risk get shipped off to a “recycle planet,” which is tantamount to letting them die of exposure on said planet’s inhospitable climate.
I really enjoyed the introductory chapter to this story. It drew me in and tickled my interest. The description of Zero’s attempt at teleportation, his characteristic vanity (as demonstrated often by his fantastic sartorial choices), and his few interactions with his best friend, Honey, and some people attending his event all set me up to think Zero is some sort of magician. In fact, he’s trying to be an inventor and magic is another concept Zero views with skepticism—as we learn because Logan, whose father was a magician, shows Zero some card tricks. I really enjoyed seeing how 21st century magic gets framed in Zero’s 41st century thinking. Zero is equal parts amazed and dismayed that these tricks are not real magic. Logan’s ability to do magic tricks also forms a key way for Zero and Logan to get closer to each other. I also liked how Keyes utilized Honey and Rae as an established couple, one that bucks the 41st century norms about not having close emotional relationships with people after the age of ten. Having Honey and Rae as an example of what a relationship could be helps Zero (perhaps subconsciously) take a chance with Logan.
Given that most of the action between Zero and Logan is built around their working together to rebuild Zero’s teleport/time-machine, a big fun question for me to grapple with throughout the story was how much Zero and Logan would fall for each other. And, of course, what would happen if they did succeed in rebuilding the machine. I think Keyes did a superlative job in creating circumstances where I could equally entertain the idea that Zero would go back in time with Logan, or that Logan would stay in the future with Zero. No spoilers here, but I thought Keyes really played both sides against each other for a satisfying resolution to the “whose time do we stay in” question.
As far as the writing goes, I think Zero and Logan play very well off each other. Especially once both of them realize that Logan really is from a different era, I think they are able to quickly identify and work around cultural misunderstandings. Like the magic tricks that help the two men build a positive rapport, I think their interactions with each other demonstrate how compatible they can be together—they seem to take each other’s differences in stride. That said, I did find the mechanics of the language a bit unpolished. There were several instances of dropped words, mistakes with possessives versus plurals, and some questions about transitive/intransitive verb usage. That said, at least some of the usages might simply reflect British English. Either way, while I did notice these mechanical usage differences, they did not impede my enjoyment of the story overall or interfere with understanding the action on the page.
Overall, this is a charming, accidental time-travel story. I’d say it falls somewhere between enemies to lovers (because Zero is rather, and reasonably, first inclined to believe Logan was just paid by someone to sabotage his machine…no time traveling at all) and friends to lovers (once Zero realizes Logan is who he says he is). It’s something of a slow burn and, as Logan is only about 20 years old, they take things slow. The romance between them helps build tension for readers anxious to know if they will stay together or not. For any readers interested in sweet romances featuring sci-fi elements and a post-dystopian future, or readers who enjoy a soft kind of opposites attract romance, this would be an excellent read.