All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

I make no secret of my love of sci-fi. I’m no Trekkie but I do love it as a genre of books because it’s so versatile and, when well done, completely compelling and believable. So when I spotted All Our Wrong Todays in the ‘we recommend’ section of my local bookshop it immediately drew my attention. Part time travel novel, part alternate reality story, part love story, it seemed like a quirky take and it did not disappoint.

The basic premise is this; in an alternate 1965 a man invents a machine that harnesses the rotation of the earth for almost unlimited energy. In an alternate 2016 Tom Barren exists in a world where technology has solved all of humanity’s problems. Until he, heartbroken at losing the love of his life, absconds on the maiden voyage of his father’s time machine and accidentally ruins his own present and finds himself in our version of 2016.

I’m never a massive fan of love stories, so that element was probably my least favourite part. But that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story as a whole. There’s a quaintness to Tom’s relationship to people in the recognisable 2016 that I loved, particularly because I found him to be insufferably whingy about his life and father in the alternate 2016 (I was pleased to see some character development there).

There were parts of the story that seemed inherently familiar to me, weirdly, and I think it’s because the scenes in the past reminded me of the front cover of Science of the Discworld which, in turn, is based on a painting that I have forgotten the name of and I assume in part inspired those scenes. I wish my memory was better for these kinds of things. But my point is there’s some clear underpinnings of scientific history and science fiction knowledge to this story. A homage, if you will.

Overall I thought All Our Wrong Todays was a clever take on the time travel genre. It was easy to read without relying too much on sci-fi jargon, yet there was a decent amount of world-building that’s a requirement for a story that’s pinned so heavily on alternate timelines. The narrator grows over the course of the story and becomes, ultimately, very likeable and the story didn’t go the way I thought it would in the end!


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