All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Rating: 3.5 stars
This story follows Tom as he becomes the first person to travel through time. He leaves his version of 2016, where the creation of unlimited energy in 1965 paved the way for a Jetson’s like existence with hover cars, teleportation, and automatic food generators (no more mushy avocados!). When he goes back to 1965 to watch the successful experiment that will change the world, only to screw it up and come back to our version of 2016. It’s nothing like the Jetsons, full of mushy avocados and the burning of still-needed fossil fuels.
Again with the unlikable main characters (à la City Mouse). While I’m normally ok with unlikeable characters, there has to be something about them that draws me in or helps me connect with them. I initially liked Tom and felt some sympathy for him because he came from a family with a genius father who never cared for him and a mother who only seemed to exist to take care of his father. He never seemed to try to do anything with his life, though. I understand that family expectations and years of being viewed as a failure and disappointment can take it’s toll, but he still sees himself as someone to be pitied and uses his difficult life as an excuse to take advantage of others. Most of the female characters in the novel exist solely as Tom’s love interests/conquests, even the intelligent and capable Penelope (who is originally supposed to be the first time traveler).
I think the author also spent too much time trying to be cute with the narrative structure. Tom’s cheeky notes to the reader in the first part of the novel and the fake switch to third person were a bit too self-aware for my taste.
The description of the alternate 2016 was fascinating though, and Tom’s life there, while not endearing, was believable. Even though I thought the snarky tone was sometimes over the top, some moments made me laugh out loud. It also has one of my favorite quotes from 2017:
“I’m sure there’s a sound medical reason for it’s [a glittery medical disinfectant] appearance, but it makes my possible death by radiation posing seem awfully festive.”
I recommend this if you are interested in science fiction or time travel described in a cheeky tone.