Within the pages of Steel City native Thomas Sweterlitsch’s first novel, Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Putnam, 2014), the city of Pittsburgh has been destroyed, the victim of a nuclear explosion set off by a lone terrorist ten years earlier. While the world has changed during the intervening decade—with society becoming obsessed with violent revenge for such actions—Pittsburgh itself continues to exist in a virtual world known as the Archive. Using video footage from traffic cameras, surveillance systems and even webcams from home computers, the Library of Congress has recreated the Steel City, up to and including the fateful moment of its destruction. The Archive serves as both homage and remembrance to those who died in the tragedy, a lasting record of a lost city and a way for survivors to cope with their own personal bereavement.
In many ways, Tomorrow and Tomorrow is hard to pin down in regards to genre. Science fiction immediately comes to mind, with a mid-Twenty First Century dystopian setting similar to the futures imagined by such classic sci-fi novelists as Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury. The novel also contains numerous ventures into the Archive, meanwhile, offering a realistic vision of Pittsburgh with chapters containing not even the slightest tint of science fiction. Then there is the main narrative itself, which revolves around the recent discovery of a murdered girl within the virtual reality of Pittsburgh—a previously unknown crime committed ten years earlier that the main protagonist of the novel becomes determined to solve—making Tomorrow and Tomorrow part detective story to go along with its many other ingredients.