Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Literally the Best Reviews: All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays -- Elan Mastai
Dutton Books
384 Pages

This is a book about time travel. Now, before you roll your eyes, it’s not your typical time travel story. This is by no means a science fiction novel. It is something far different, and it’s a good thing. Personally, I love time travel stories, so I eagerly grabbed this book when I saw it on the New Release shelf at the Lockport Library.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai is less about the science behind the theory of time travel and more about the ripples that form when we try to change something in the past. While it seems to focus on the “Paradox Effect,” it really addresses the individual who wants to make that one tiny little change in order to be a better person. That could be something to make himself feel better, or in this case, something for his father to look at him in a different light.

Tom Barren lives in 2016, but it’s not the 2016 we know. A fluke invention back in the 1960s gives humanity all that it needs to be prosperous and carefree, leading to Tom’s 2016, where everything is perfect. There is no war. There is no hunger. However, there are people who now have the time and resources to do anything they want. So, Tom’s father invents a time machine.

This is not a time machine like you’ve read about in other books. This time machine only has one destination. It can only go back to the day that the “Machine” was turned on by following the unique radiation signature that was emitted by that machine. The thing that makes time travel impossible is that your relative position in space is also moving. A time machine would need to move not only to the correct year, but also the correct spot in space. Without an anchor point, it would be next to impossible. (Unless you have a TARDIS). Luckily for Barren’s father, they can follow the trail of radiation back to the moment they wish to go.

Who wouldn’t want to see the moment that the world changed and made it the Utopia of Tom Barren’s world? That’s the thought of going back -- to observe one of the most historical moments in history. Barren’s father puts him on the backup team, knowing full well that his good for nothing son will never actually make the trip. Alas, life gets in the way just like it always does.

When Barren’s love interest disappears, he does the most irrational thing he can think of. He steals the time machine and heads back to the Day. Unfortunately, he is not really prepared. Instead of fixing the newest screw up in his life, he ends up screwing up the future that was meant for the world. Gone is the perfect world that he remembers.

Mayhem breaks out as he struggles to balance the life he knows with the life that is now meant for him. His name is even different. Instead of trying to live with this new life, he attempts to fix it again. Each time, the changes get worse and worse, until his life has no resemblance to his previous life at all. Each change makes bigger and bigger changes.

Recently, a local blogger wrote a piece about what he would tell his younger self now that he’s so much older and wiser. He went on and on with the same, old Miss America-like non answers that really mean nothing. The concept was great, and it made me think of what I would say to my younger self. Nothing. I would tell myself nothing. Every moment, every laugh, every year, and every mistake made me the person I am today. Changing one little thing could mean that I never met Wendy, or had my kids. That would be catastrophic.

I think that that’s where Mastai was going with this book. At least that’s what I got out of it. While changing history works well in movies and books, in reality, it could destroy the very person you are. We need to learn to embrace ourselves for who we are and what we are. We just have to accept our awesomeness. Our lives are not as bad as we think they are.

I loved All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. It was a great book, and it was his first novel. I look forward to what comes from his mind next. He’s been writing screenplays for fifteen years, so there may be some shows I need to watch now. Mastai lives in Toronto, so for us, that’s mostly local. Make sure you get your copy and read this book.

If Craig Bacon could go back in time, he’d probably rewrite a couple sentences. But then again, his name might end up as George Root. We definitely don’t need another George.

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