I can’t remember if Grossman summarized the book this way in the introduction (which is sadly the most entertaining part of the book) but this is trying really hard to be the gen x-ers Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but returning to the relatively few 170-some pages isn’t something I have any desire to do to go back and check.
a) I understand why you’d daydream this particular existence away, but b) the daydreams aren’t fleshed out and are impossible to follow as a result, rendering them as boring as the pedestrian life our protagonist is trying to escape from, and c) the constant interruptions mean you can’t follow any of it. The reading experience was as aimless as our slacker hero’s character development and as truncated. No one grows. No one learns. Nothing matters. People quote Star Trek a lot though.
This felt like a rough draft for Codex, which I found similarly lacking by comparison to The Magicians, but next to this book it’s The Great Gatsby. I wanted this to be better. It could have been if the sci-fi interludes had any structure whatsoever. Swing and a miss, but it does make me want to revisit The Magicians, so there’s that.