All Our Wrong Todays is the first novel by Elan Mastai, and is receiving serious praise. Well deserved praise in my estimation.
We meet Tom Barren, the one who destroyed the universe as he knew it. He went from a semi-utopian world, similar to what we might have envisioned in Sci-Fi of the 1950’s. Flying cars, automated houses, helpful robots, all that sort of thing. But Tom erases that future when he travels back in time and accidentally disrupts the event that brought that world to fruition.
The thing that makes Tom’s base timeline possible is a thing called the Goettreider machine – a machine powered by the movement of the Earth itself. A perpetual motion machine, that produces completely clean energy. Tom, as the first time traveler, goes back in history to witness this event, and his presence causes an accident that results in the Goettreider machine never being used.
Time travel is messy: a review of All Our Wrong Todays
Much of the novel focuses on Tom’s attempts to right this wrong, to fix the universe to what it was supposed to be, if he hadn’t screwed it up. But then he begins to realize that if he fixes it, so that his actual timeline comes back, all the people in this timeline would never exist, from his alternative parents, to the sister he has in this timeline that didn’t exist in his original one. And, the woman he falls in love with. All of them would not only cease to exist, but their potential would never have existed. That weighs heavily on Tom.
This existential crisis is what powers most of the book, and while it does get a little repetitive it was an interesting read. As Mastai is a screenwriter (“What If”, “Alone in the Dark”), this book seems like it belongs on a screen. And it probably will get that treatment. If you’re a fan of 50’s and 60’s Sci-Fi, Heinlein, and potentially Douglas Adams, you’ll probably enjoy All Our Wrong Todays. But if Sci-Fi, or Sci-Fantasy isn’t your bailiwick, you’re probably not going to find it nearly as amusing or enjoyable.