All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai.
Tom lives a aimless, drifting life in 2016. Except it’s not our 2016, it’s the 2016 that would exist if humans had discovered unlimited clean energy decades ago. In other words: the sci-fi future we’ve dreamed of since the 1950’s, complete with flying cars and moon bases. This power source has even led to a breakthrough in a new field: time travel. Tom’s father heads up that project, and got Tom a nominal job on the team in an attempt to give his life some structure. When a seemingly minor event dominoes into a major catastrophe for the timeline, Tom finds himself in a different 2016: ours. To him, it’s a dystopian wasteland. But certain parts of his life in this new reality are actually… better. He finds himself facing a choice between fixing the timeline and restoring the techno-utopia he came from (if he can), or forging a new life in this new reality.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s hard to discuss stories about time travel without giving things away, so forgive the semi-vagueness of this review. Tom as a narrator is funny and engaging. You sympathize with him, while also going ‘oh my god, you idiot!’ occasionally. There’s a good play of interpersonal dynamics and slight cause-and-effect plot twists. Events unfold (mostly) as realistically as they can, given the premise, but the author still manages to throw a few surprises in. It’s an entertaining and well-written story.
One of my favorite parts of this book is how the author deals with the classic time travel paradox: if you go back in time and change things, then return to your original time, wouldn’t things (namely: you) be completely different? I’m not going to give it away here. I’ll just say that it was a new way I’ve seen of handling that issue, and it was done well.
If you like time travel adventures with relatable narrators, give this a go. It just came out this week!