All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays

by Elan Mastai

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Overview

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

One of Wall Street Journal’s Best of 2017

“Entertainingly mixes thrills and humor.”—Entertainment Weekly

“[An] amazing debut novel. . . . Dazzling and complex. . . . Fearlessly funny storytelling.”—The Washington Post

“Instantly engaging. . . . A timeless, if mind-bending, story about the journeys we take, populated by friends, family, lovers, and others, that show us who we might be, could be—and maybe never should be—that eventually leads us to who we are.”—USA Today

Elan Mastai's acclaimed debut novel is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms.

It's 2016, and in Tom Barren's world, technology has solved all of humanity's problems—there's no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocadoes. Unfortunately, Tom isn't happy. He's lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you're heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid.

Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality—which we immediately recognize as our 2016—Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life.

Now Tom faces an impossible choice. Go back to his perfect but loveless life. Or stay in our messy reality with a soulmate by his side. His search for the answer takes him across continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

Filled with humor and heart and packed with insight, intelligence, and mind-bending invention, All Our Wrong Todays is a powerful and moving story of life, loss, and love. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101985151
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/20/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 67,102
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Elan Mastai was born in Vancouver and lives in Toronto with his wife and children. He is an award-winning screenwriter. This is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt

1

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have. But it never should've turned out like this. And it's all my fault-well, me and to a lesser extent my father and, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

It's hard to know how to start telling this story. But, okay, you know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Flying cars, robot maids, food pills, teleportation, jet packs, moving sidewalks, ray guns, hover boards, space vacations, and moon bases. All that dazzling, transformative technology our grandparents were certain was right around the corner. The stuff of world's fairs and pulp science-fiction magazines with titles like Fantastic Future Tales and The Amazing World of Tomorrow. Can you picture it?

Well, it happened.

It all happened, more or less exactly as envisioned. I'm not talking about the future. I'm talking about the present. Today, in the year 2016, humanity lives in a techno-utopian paradise of abundance, purpose, and wonder.

Except we don't. Of course we don't. We live in a world where, sure, there are iPhones and 3D printers and, I don't know, drone strikes or whatever. But it hardly looks like The Jetsons. Except it should. And it did. Until it didn't. But it would have, if I hadn't done what I did. Or, no, hold on, what I will have done.

I'm sorry, despite receiving the best education available to a citizen of the World of Tomorrow, the grammar of this situation is a bit complicated.

Maybe the first person is the wrong way to tell this story. Maybe if I take refuge in the third person I'll find some sort of distance or insight or at least peace of mind. It's worth a try.

2

Tom Barren wakes up into his own dream.

Every night, neural scanners map his dreams while he sleeps so that both his conscious and unconscious thought patterns can be effectively modeled. Every morning, the neural scanners transmit the current dream-state data into a program that generates a real-time virtual projection into which he seamlessly rouses. The dream's scattershot plot is made increasingly linear and lucid until a psychologically pleasing resolution is achieved at the moment of full consciousness . . .

I'm sorry-I can't write like this. It's fake. It's safe.

The third person is comforting because it's in control, which feels really nice when relating events that were often so out of control. It's like a scientist describing a biological sample seen through a microscope. But I'm not the microscope. I'm the thing on the slide. And I'm not writing this to make myself comfortable. If I wanted comfort, I'd write fiction.

In fiction, you cohere all these evocative, telling details into a portrait of the world. But in everyday life, you hardly notice any of the little things. You can't. Your brain swoops past it all, especially when it's your own home, a place that feels barely separate from the inside of your mind or the outside of your body.

When you wake up from a real dream into a virtual one, it's like you're on a raft darting this way and that according to the blurry, impenetrable currents of your unconscious, until you find yourself gliding onto a wide, calm, shallow lake, and the slippery, fraught weirdness dissolves into serene, reassuring clarity. The story wraps up the way it feels like it must, and no matter how unsettling the content, you wake with the rejuvenating solidity of order restored. And that's when you realize you're lying in bed, ready to start the day, with none of that sticky subconscious gristle caught in the cramped folds of your mind.

It might be what I miss most about where I come from. Because in this world waking up sucks.

Here, it's like nobody has considered using even the most rudimentary technology to improve the process. Mattresses don't subtly vibrate to keep your muscles loose. Targeted steam valves don't clean your body in slumber. I mean, blankets are made from tufts of plant fiber spun into thread and occasionally stuffed with feathers. Feathers. Like from actual birds. Waking up should be the best moment of your day, your unconscious and conscious minds synchronized and harmonious.

Getting dressed involves an automated device that cuts and stitches a new outfit every morning, indexed to your personal style and body type. The fabric is made from laser-hardened strands of a light-sensitive liquid polymer that's recycled nightly for daily reuse. For breakfast, a similar system outputs whatever meal you feel like from a nutrient gel mixed with color, flavor, and texture protocols. And if that sounds gross to you, in practice it's indistinguishable from what you think of as real food, except that it's uniquely gauged to your tongue's sensory receptors so it tastes and feels ideal every time. You know that sinking feeling you get when you cut into an avocado, only to find that it's either hard and underripe or brown and bruised under its skin? Well, I didn't know that could even happen until I came here. Every avocado I ever ate was perfect.

It's weird to be nostalgic for experiences that both did and didn't exist. Like waking up every morning completely refreshed. Something I didn't even realize I could take for granted because it was simply the way things were. But that's the point, of course-the way things were . . . never was.

What I'm not nostalgic for is that every morning when I woke up and got dressed and ate breakfast in this glittering technological utopia, I was alone.

3

On July 11, 1965, Lionel Goettreider invented the future.

Obviously you've never heard of him. But where I come from, Lionel Goettreider is the most famous, beloved, and respected human on the planet. Every city has dozens of things named after him: streets, buildings, parks, whatever. Every kid knows how to spell his name using the catchy mnemonic tune that goes G-O-E-T-T-R-E-I-D-E-R.

You have no idea what I'm talking about. But if you were from where I'm from, it'd be as familiar to you as A-B-C.

Fifty-one years ago, Lionel Goettreider invented a revolutionary way to generate unlimited, robust, absolutely clean energy. His device came to be called the Goettreider Engine. July 11, 1965, was the day he turned it on for the very first time. It made everything possible.

Imagine that the last five decades happened with no restrictions on energy. No need to dig deeper and deeper into the ground and make the skies dirtier and dirtier. Nuclear became unnecessarily tempestuous. Coal and oil pointlessly murky. Solar and wind and even hydropower became quaint low-fidelity alternatives that nobody bothered with unless they were peculiarly determined to live off the main grid.

So, how did the Goettreider Engine work?

How does electricity work? How does a microwave oven work? How does your cell phone or television or remote control work? Do you actually understand on, like, a concrete technical level? If those technologies disappeared, could you reconceive, redesign, and rebuild them from scratch? And, if not, why not? You only use these things pretty much every single day.

But of course you don't know. Because unless your job's in a related field you don't need to know. They just work, effortlessly, as they were intended to.

Where I come from, that's how it is with the Goettreider Engine. It was important enough to make Goettreider as recognizable a name as Einstein or Newton or Darwin. But how it functioned, like, technically? I really couldn't tell you.

Basically, you know how a dam produces energy? Turbines harness the natural propulsion of water flowing downward via gravity to generate electricity. To be clear, that's more or less all I understand about hydroelectric power. Gravity pulls water down, so if you stick a turbine in its path, the water spins it around and somehow makes energy.

The Goettreider Engine does that with the planet. You know that the Earth spins on its axis and also revolves around the Sun, while the Sun itself moves endlessly through the solar system. Like water through a turbine, the Goettreider Engine harnesses the constant rotation of the planet to create boundless energy. It has something to do with magnetism and gravity and . . . honestly, I don't know-any more than I genuinely understand an alkaline battery or a combustion engine or an incandescent light bulb. They just work.

So does the Goettreider Engine. It just works.

Or it did. Before, you know, me.

4

I am not a genius. If you've read this far, you're already aware of that fact.

But my father is a legitimate full-blown genius of the highest order. After finishing his third PhD, Victor Barren spent a few crucial years working in long-range teleportation before founding his own lab to pursue his specific niche field-time travel.

Even where I come from, time travel was considered more or less impossible. Not because of time, actually, but because of space.

Here's why every time-travel movie you've ever seen is total bullshit: because the Earth moves.

You know this. Plus I mentioned it last chapter. The Earth spins all the way around once a day, revolves around the Sun once a year, while the Sun is on its own cosmic route through the solar system, which is itself hurtling through a galaxy that's wandering an epic path through the universe.

The ground under you is moving, really fast. Along the equator, the Earth rotates at over 1,000 miles per hour, twenty-four hours a day, while orbiting the Sun at a little over 67,000 miles per hour. That's 1,600,000 miles per day. Meanwhile our solar system is in motion relative to the Milky Way galaxy at more than 1,300,000 miles per hour, covering just shy of 32,000,000 miles per day. And so on.

If you were to travel back in time to yesterday, the Earth would be in a different place in space. Even if you travel back in time one second, the Earth below your feet can move nearly half a kilometer. In one second.

The reason every movie about time travel is nonsense is that the Earth moves, constantly, always. You travel back one day, you don't end up in the same location-you end up in the gaping vacuum of outer space.

Marty McFly didn't appear thirty years earlier in his hometown of Hill Valley, California. His tricked-out DeLorean materialized in the endless empty blackness of the cosmos with the Earth approximately 350,000,000,000 miles away. Assuming he didn't immediately lose consciousness from the lack of oxygen, the absence of air pressure would cause all the fluids in his body to bubble, partially evaporate, and freeze. He would be dead in less than a minute.

The Terminator would probably survive in space because it's an unstoppable robot killing machine, but traveling from 2029 to 1984 would've given Sarah Connor a 525,000,000,000-mile head start.

Time travel doesn't just require traveling back in time. It also requires traveling back to a pinpoint-specific location in space. Otherwise, just like with regular old everyday teleportation, you could end up stuck inside something.

Think about where you're sitting right now. Let's say on an olive-green couch. A white ceramic bowl of fake green pears and real brown pinecones propped next to your feet on the teak coffee table. A brushed-steel floor lamp glows over your shoulder. A coarse rug over reclaimed barn-board elm floors that cost too much but look pretty great . . .

If you were to teleport even a few inches in any direction, your body would be embedded in a solid object. One inch, you're wounded. Two inches, you're maimed. Three inches, you're dead.

Every second of the day, we're all three inches from being dead.

Which is why teleportation is safe and effective only if it's between dedicated sites on an exactingly calibrated system.

My father's early work in teleportation was so important because it helped him understand the mechanics of disincorporating and reincorporating a human body between discrete locations. It's what stymied all previous time-travel initiatives. Reversing the flow of time isn't even that complex. What's outrageously complex is instantaneous space travel with absolute accuracy across potentially billions of miles.

My father's genius wasn't just about solving both the theoretical and logistic challenges of time travel. It was about recognizing that in this, as in so many other aspects of everyday life, our savior was Lionel Goettreider.

5

The first Goettreider Engine was turned on once and never turned off-it's been running without interruption since 2:03 p.m. on Sunday, July 11, 1965.

Goettreider's original device wasn't designed to harness and emit large-scale amounts of energy. It was an experimental prototype that performed beyond its inventor's most grandiose expectations. But the whole point of a Goettreider Engine is that it never has to be deactivated, just as the planet never stops moving. So, the prototype was left running in the same spot where it was first switched on, in front of a small crowd of sixteen observers in a basement laboratory in section B7 of the San Francisco State Science and Technology Center.

Where I come from, every schoolkid knows the names and faces of the Sixteen Witnesses. Numerous books have been written about every single one of them, with their presence at this ultimate hinge in history shoved into the chronology of their individual lives as the def ining event, whether or not it was factually true.

Countless works of art have depicted The Activation of the Goettreider Engine. It's The Last Supper of the modern world, those sixteen faces, each with its own codified reaction. Skeptical. Awed. Distracted. Amused. Jealous. Angry. Thoughtful. Frightened. Detached. Concerned. Excited. Nonchalant. Harried. There's three more. Damn it, I should know this . . .

When the prototype Engine was first turned on, Goettreider just wanted to verify his calculations and prove his theory wasn't completely misguided-all it had to do was actually work. And it did work, but it had a major defect. It emitted a unique radiation signature, what was later called tau radiation, a nod to how physics uses the Greek capital letter T to represent proper time in relativity equations.

As the Engine's miraculous energy-generating capacities expanded to power the whole world, the tau radiation signature was eliminated from the large-scale industrial models. But the prototype was left to run, theoretically forever, in Goettreider's lab in San Francisco-now among the most visited museums on the planet-out of respect, nostalgia, and a legally rigid clause in Goettreider's last will and testament.

What People are Saying About This

Author of Everything Matters! and The One-Eyed Man - Ron Currie

As a novelist, I hate Elan Mastai for writing a perfect book. As a reader, I couldn't be more grateful.

Author of The Martian - Andy Weir

A thrilling tale of time travel and alternate timelines with a refreshingly optimistic view of humanity's future.

Author of This Is Where I Leave You and One Last Thing Before I Go - Jonathan Tropper

A novel about time travel has no right to be this engaging. A novel this engaging has no right to be this smart. And a novel this smart has no right to be this funny. Or insightful. Or immersive. Basically, this novel has no right to exist.

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All Our Wrong Todays: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. A fun read and hopefully a sequel?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the most imaginitive writing I have ever read yet returning to the familiar human condition of finding love, meaning and a place to belong. I could not put this book down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and original. Some laugh out loud moments too. Looking forward to more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written. It sucks you in and holds on til the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book that showes how messing with time messes everthing up
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
Tom Barren lived in a world with flying cars, automated systems that make new clothing each time you dress, and food fabricated from nutrient gel into whatever you are in the mood for. There were automatic cutting and grooming machines to do your hair every day. Yes, this was the world of the Jetsons! It was the world that the people of the 1950’s envisioned as their future. Today, we have some advancements, but nothing like those in Tom’s world. So what happened? Tom wanted to be the first person to travel through time, and he was. But, when he did, he changed everything! This is an exciting adventure, but also something much more. The fictional character, Tom Barren, writes his memoir, speaking fluidly to the reader, herself. The character development is very effective, creating vivid and real characters, and the writing flows smoothly and naturally. The author leads the reader to actually believe in this story, as fictitious characters blend with real, historical ones. In addition, this story has some unforgettable truths to teach us about our lives, reality, family, friendship, and the road not taken. It is funny, intelligent, and masterfully told. You cannot miss this well-crafted, amazing novel! I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel story in which the main character travels from 2016 back to 1965 and inadvertently alters the time line. This is a novel written as a memoir. The chief protagonist is sort of a screw-up living in the shadow of his brilliant, but distant father. The story started slowly for me, but I came to really like the main character. He’s faced with a moral dilemma akin to the trolley problem, and is unsure of what he should do. To further complicate matters, he falls in love. His personal journey of self discovery is smart and humorous and a really good read.
ScifiandScary More than 1 year ago
I picked up All Our Wrong Todays because of the idea that our present – our truth – is the dystopia. I figured it would be a refreshing change to the glut of future and/or magical dystopias out there. I didn’t get what I was expecting. What Elan Mastai gave me was better. There is a certain bluntness to the way the story is told that makes it feel almost raw and therefore more believable. Even though Mastai does employ a few typical tricks, he – the narrator – admits to doing so when he does them. That works surprisingly well. All Our Wrong Todays isn’t really about the past, present, or future. Maybe that’s why it’s such a good story. It’s about Tom Barren, whom most everyone can recognize as the ‘never good enough’ that resides inside us. He’s not extremely intelligent, nor does he have a wealth of common sense. He’s not a hero, and he’s really not even that brave. At the beginning, even though he’s a grown up, he’s not grown up. By the end of All Our Wrong Todays, he’s still not a hero, still not smart, and maybe a bit too feelsy, but he’s grown up. And watching him grow up? It’s addictive. You become invested in his now even as he’s trying to fix the past and future. I think if Tom was even a bit more ‘typical male as displayed in sci-fi books’ I wouldn’t have liked this book nearly as much as I did. But he’s not, and I did. Elan Mastai is a talented author. His experience writing for film has definitely helped him in shaping All Our Wrong Todays into a gem that’s a lot more polished feeling than it otherwise would be from a debut author. He’s able to tell the story, poke at the human race, make us long for something we’ll probably never have, but convince us that maybe we might get there someday. It’s a book filled with quotable passages. Everything from stuff that makes you think to stuff that makes you snort. I’m only going to mention one, though: People are despondent about the future because they’re increasingly aware that we, as a species, chased an inspiring dream that led us to ruin… The better things we build keep making it worse. The belief that the world is here for humans to control is the philosophical bedrock of our civilization, but it’s a mistaken belief. – Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Todays It’s not perfect. The relationship between Penelope and Tom is a bit too convenient/contrived. The very beginning and the end of their relationship is fine. It’s the middle that had me rolling my eyes a little bit. But Tom is young-ish and hormones are hormones, and hormones make you be stupid and/or see stupid. So it’s easy to move past. The only other issue I had was that the endings just kept coming. The last five or six chapters all feel like they were the original last chapter, but he just couldn’t quite stop writing just a little bit more. It introduced an element of frustration that I hadn’t experienced with the book up until that point. Overall, though, All Our Wrong Todays is a time-travel novel done right, and well worth picking up. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from Netgalley for review consideration.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
This book was smart, funny, and incredibly human. I loved it. Rather than tearing through it as I usually would, I read it slowly, wanting to savor each moment. It was incredibly entertaining and yet still managed to be a heartfelt reflection on what it means to live. It reads like a cross between The Martian and The Chronicles of St. Mary's, with a somewhat irreverent approach that still manages to be deep. Tom was a narrator in the style of Mark Watney (minus some swearing). He's a screw-up and more focused on women and love than making something of himself in his world. Despite that, he is incredibly easy to connect to (perhaps due to the slightly self-deprecating sense of humor?). I adored him as a narrator. One hazard of science fiction novels is that sometimes they get so technical, you no longer recognize which way is up. All Our Wrong Todays absolutely does not have that problem. Since Tom is essentially technologically illiterate, his explanations are very down to earth and easily understandable. For those of you more interested in the science and various theories about time travel/continuing theories, those are explored as well (mostly through conversations between secondary characters). While this is a science fiction book, it ultimately is about more than adventure. It's about family and love and what it means to be human. In a way, it's a coming of age tale set against a fantastic backdrop. The author does an absolutely fantastic job of exploring human emotions, the good AND the ugly. Incomprehensible events happen (as they do in everyone's life) and the characters have to learn how to continue living. Penny was the perfect love interest. She was funny, smart, and imperfect. She made Tom a better man and didn't allow him to lose sight of himself. The contrast between the carnal relationship of Penelope and Tom with the warm, loving one of Penny and Tim was very well done and really highlighted the differences between the two worlds. There was one scene in particular with Penny that was difficult to read. I was glad that the author showed the fallout of those decisions. The emotional aftermath was brutal and really delved into the heart of their relationship. All Our Wrong Todays is a book to read slowly, savoring the experience the way you would a fine wine. Even if you don't normally read science fiction, I think you'll enjoy this book. I highly recommend this book that will leave you contemplating it long after you've finished reading. I would absolutely recommend this book. *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
This book was smart, funny, and incredibly human. I loved it. Rather than tearing through it as I usually would, I read it slowly, wanting to savor each moment. It was incredibly entertaining and yet still managed to be a heartfelt reflection on what it means to live. It reads like a cross between The Martian and The Chronicles of St. Mary's, with a somewhat irreverent approach that still manages to be deep. Tom was a narrator in the style of Mark Watney (minus some swearing). He's a screw-up and more focused on women and love than making something of himself in his world. Despite that, he is incredibly easy to connect to (perhaps due to the slightly self-deprecating sense of humor?). I adored him as a narrator. One hazard of science fiction novels is that sometimes they get so technical, you no longer recognize which way is up. All Our Wrong Todays absolutely does not have that problem. Since Tom is essentially technologically illiterate, his explanations are very down to earth and easily understandable. For those of you more interested in the science and various theories about time travel/continuing theories, those are explored as well (mostly through conversations between secondary characters). While this is a science fiction book, it ultimately is about more than adventure. It's about family and love and what it means to be human. In a way, it's a coming of age tale set against a fantastic backdrop. The author does an absolutely fantastic job of exploring human emotions, the good AND the ugly. Incomprehensible events happen (as they do in everyone's life) and the characters have to learn how to continue living. Penny was the perfect love interest. She was funny, smart, and imperfect. She made Tom a better man and didn't allow him to lose sight of himself. The contrast between the carnal relationship of Penelope and Tom with the warm, loving one of Penny and Tim was very well done and really highlighted the differences between the two worlds. There was one scene in particular with Penny that was difficult to read. I was glad that the author showed the fallout of those decisions. The emotional aftermath was brutal and really delved into the heart of their relationship. All Our Wrong Todays is a book to read slowly, savoring the experience the way you would a fine wine. Even if you don't normally read science fiction, I think you'll enjoy this book. I highly recommend this book that will leave you contemplating it long after you've finished reading. I would absolutely recommend this book. *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was a book about time travel. I loved how it was narrated by Tom. As per his dad, he was a loser. Everything he touched turned out bad. He tried several jobs and none of them had ever worked out for him. His dad, of course, was a genius. Everything he touched turned into gold (or into the greated invention ever) and his dad was working on a time machine. The night before his dad's time machine is going it's first ever visit back into time, Tom sleeps with the leading chrononaut on the mission. Naturally, he gets her pregnant and screws up the whole mission. His father is P.O.'d. Yet again his son has touched something and messed it up. Tom decides to go on the mission himself. He goes back to 1965. He then returns back to 2015 and discovers, you guessed it. He messed it up. There are no longer flying cars, robots, fingertouch accesses, buttons you push and the food is delivered, etc. Nope 2015 is pretty much how we see it. There is no Jetson era anymore. Tom is on a mission to get his world back. This was an very entertaining read. It definitely held my interest. There were a few times when they would talk this science gobbly goop and my eyes would bleed, but fortunately that was rare and short. There were definitely a few laughs. On the whole, entertaining, enjoyable and definitely recommendable. Huge thanks to Penguin Group Dutton for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Sue_H More than 1 year ago
INTERESTING VIEW ON TIME TRAVEL. 2.5 stars. All Our Wrong Todays is the first book by Elan Mastai so I wasn't sure what to expect. The book blurb adequately describes the storyline so I'm not going to repeat all of that info here. This is a story of science, time travel, family, and how even the slightest thing can have a huge impact even if it wasn't intentional. Based on the description, I was looking forward to reading this book. And there are some readers who will love the book. But for me, it was very challenging and confusing to read for the most part. I found myself either having to re-read huge sections because I couldn't figure out what was going on or skipping ahead in hopes it would start to make more sense. I did manage to stick with it to the end, for which I am glad I did. It was only the last couple of chapters that made the book worth finishing. At times it seemed more like reading a textbook. Some readers will enjoy all of the technical aspects, though most will probably feel lost. I am left-brained and usually enjoy it, but not this time. The author did help making a few parts of the book less confusing by including several summary chapters. Will I read future books by this author? I probably will, as I usually give an author a couple of chances. But it won't be with the high expectation I had starting this book. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher Dutton and chose to leave a review for other readers.
onemused More than 1 year ago
"All Our Wrong Todays" was a sci-fi masterpiece. Imagine that, through a series of unfortunate events, you went back in time to a pivotal moment and messed up the world you knew- billions of people no longer exist, and billions more that never existed now do exist. Tom lived "today" in 2016, but it was a different today than the today we know. Tom's today was like the Jetsons where food was made perfectly from a polymer, climate change was not a problem, and teleportation and hovercars were normal ways to get around. Through a series of events, he travels back to 1965 and the 2016 he returns to is our 2016- not his. This was one of the best adult science fiction novels I have read this year. It actually reads a bit like YA but definitely has adult content. The sci-fi elements were incredibly well done and thought provoking (how do we know which alternate reality is the "right" one- if such a concept could exist? How could time travel change our own existence?). The writing style is also really unique and really drew me in- it's as if Tom is talking to his best friend (the reader) about this crazy story that happened and it's impossible to stop listening to his insane tale (which still carries a certain amount of sense to it). For some realities, we are already living in a dystopian fiction. This thought- that our current reality could actually be a dystopian reality- was also really intriguing (because for Tom, that is how our 2016 appears). This is one of the most reasonable books about time travel I have ever read. There was a certain amount of sense and possibility about it. The way the tale was woven absolutely seamlessly was beyond fantastic. Tom is a character that was easy to like and understand- in his reality, all of his genius (if you can call it that) was random. He was meandering through his life with little purpose. Over 30 years old, he is still trying to find his way, and learning the trick that actually, no one has it all figured out- we're all faking our way through life as best as we can. He finds some purpose and changes the very fabric of his (and everyone's) existence. This is definitely an adult book with mentions of sexual relationships and conception/abortion (although nothing is described in detail). As a note/warning, there are mentions of sexual contact that are hazy in terms of consent. The women involved do not seem to view it as a nonconsensual, but it was definitely outside of their comfort zones/really seemed to belong to the sexual assault category. It is not described in detail but is still worth mentioning for readers who might prefer to stay away from this. Overall, this was a fascinating sci-fi story which takes the reader on a journey through time, possibilities, and love (a constant thread of life) and forcing them to consider endless alternate realities. This is a book I won't easily forget. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.