By: Elan Masai
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
If old movies and TV shows were to be believed the year 2000 would have us living in a veritable technological utopia. There would have been flying cars, tech made for everything from making breakfast to getting dressed, and the world would look more or less like that of the Jetsons. Only, what if they were right? What if we were supposed to have that future? Only Tom Barren, the not-quite-so-genius son of the definitely-genius Victor Barren, leading expert on time travel, made one rash decision (well, one really important rash decision along with all the other, smaller ones) and doomed that world to forever grace the pages of science fiction, never to be born.
All Our Wrong Todays is the debut novel of Canadian screenwriter Elan Mastai. This un-put-down-able science fiction novel is a time travel story at its core, while tackling the harder, more philosophical quandaries which inevitably occur when you’re accidentally creating alternate timelines.
The book is written from the point of view of Tom Barren. Told in the first person, this is Tom’s memoir, the story of his father’s Chrono-Spatial Transport Apparatus, Tom’s role in the world’s first time travel machine, and his decisions, rash or otherwise. The story is told in a very conversational tone, making it a bit easier to understand the more difficult concepts of time travel, human consciousness, and tempo-spatial reality the book gets into, especially in later chapters.
It is very easy to like Tom Barren. He’s a disappointment to his father, not necessary a bad person or completely untalented, but with none of his father’s brilliance and unwavering drive. Tom speaks to the reader like an old friend, and I quickly found myself very attached to the character. He has an intelligence other characters don’t always see, an easy wit, and can be rather self-deprecating. Tom goes through some very real character development as well, and grows by leaps and bounds throughout the course of the novel.
This can be said for many of the other characters as well. They are complex people, with real hopes and dreams that sometimes come to fruition and sometimes do not. As Tom matures and is able to see the different facets and understand the motivations and desires of those around him, we too are able see them in new light both. Sometimes this is redeeming, sometimes not.
Now, if you don’t like books that get overly technical with their science, don’t worry. The main character isn’t a scientist, he’s a chrononaut, and only because of his father’s pity at that. The science behind time travel isn’t overly technical or overly complicated. If you read books within this genre often you probably won’t have much trouble keeping up. Along with time travel, alternate timelines are also very much in play here. Again, these timelines are treated in a pretty straightforward manner and isn’t quite as confusing as some other novels can be. The differences between Tom’s world and others are stark. There is no confusion as to where we are within the multiverse, or how this world is different from the one our main character started in. We only get a glimpse at two of these other worlds, not the wide smattering of possibilities seen in novels such as, for example, Dark Matter.
While time travel and alternate realities are hardly a new concept in science fiction, All Our Wrong Todays goes a step further. Topics are further broached such as, the state of consciousness in relation to alternate times/dimensions, and the capabilities of the human mind as memories are overwritten and changed via time travel. We also are able to see different versions of time machines – devices that both allow the user to travel through time, but by completely different means and with different worries and complications of its own.
Admittedly, some of the answers to these questions and can get sticky in terms of philosophical debate and scientific theory. Some sections of the book might be more difficult to get through for some readers, particularly places towards the end. However, if you enjoyed books such at Dark Matter or shows such as Doctor Who, you will most likely be able to keep up just fine. Again, the book has a very conversational tone, which does make all any talk of hard science, scientific theories, or philosophical points much easier to digest than many other novels.
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai is a wonderful novel with equal parts science, philosophy, and heart. I’ve read a lot of science fiction, an alarmingly large proportion of which involve time travel and alternate timelines. Out of all of them, All Our Wrong Todays is, by far, my favorite. I highly recommend this book. If you’re looking for a little time traveling or good a good science fiction novel, pick this book up. It will not disappoint.