March 19, 2017
So much time travel, so little time. Or maybe it would make more sense to say, So many visions of time travel, so much time for them to become clichéd. I’m sure it’s daunting to start writing a time travel story these days. You’d keep asking yourself how to be original, how to incorporate actual (and understandable) science, and how to make the story about more than just time travel. I assume that Elan Mastai asked himself these questions and thought long and hard about his answers, because his All Our Wrong Todays exhibits some of the most original time travel thinking I’ve read.
About a third of the way through this book, I respected its originality but was getting a little bored. About two thirds of the way through, I thought it was going to be one of my all-time favorite books. About nine tenths of the way, I was scrunching my eyebrows in mild annoyance. After finishing, I was smiling again and ready to say good things about it. This is a very interesting book with memorable characters and original insights into everything from technology to psychology to stories themselves. It just takes one or two too many twists and turns for my taste to be an all-time great.
Still, if you like time travel, you should read All Our Wrong Todays. If you like a good love story or if you enjoy characters struggling with internal demons (and can tolerate a bit of nerdy techiness), you should read it. If you’re looking to engage visions of the future that reflect but are not hijacked by dystopianism, you should read it. It is clever, funny, sensitive, and honest. It accomplishes a rare feat: the book combines a pretty substantial “cool factor” with soulfulness. Maybe the next time I read it, I’ll be ready for the extra twists and turns, and the book will indeed make my all-time favorites list. Or maybe I’ll read it in another timeline, and it will change my world.