This novel by Jennifer Mills is, among other things, about the weird and unexplained phenomenon of the disturbance to the chronology of time. Sam, the young female protagonist, experiences the condition and sees, literally, into the future. Dyschronia describes in disturbing and realistic ways the price of this ‘gift’, its harrowing demands and the tax it takes on the body. Sam must navigate her way through the visions – although they are more like physical presentations – and deal with the town-folks’ requests for more information.
Set in an unsettled future in a dying town, Dyschronia is narrated in each alternate chapter by the collective voice of its inhabitants. This Greek chorus effect shows us a world that has become acidic. The town has lost its industry and people are flailing to know how to stay afloat. There is the arrival of the new order who breed lies and propaganda about what’s on offer. What can the population do other than believe in what they’re told rather than look down the barrel of what is to come. Of course, this only increases their feelings of being let-down.
Quintessentially Australian, this novel’s canvas is broader than a country’s borders. Like On the Beach by Neville Shute, it encompasses a global sensibility and opens us to the vulnerability of all those who inevitably want answers.