All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai
Review by Gayle Surrette
Dutton Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781101985137
Date: 07 February 2017
Tom Barren comes from the 2016 we should have had. The one that is filled with everything we expect in the future - flying cars, autodocs, limitless clean energy -- just like the original Star Trek when everything was shiny and new. It's a type of utopia, only Tom wasn't happy. His father thought he was worthless, yet still assigned him to work on his time machine project, assigning Tom as the backup to the person who would be making the first trip back in time.
Unfortunately, Tom has a knack for doing the wrong thing at the right time or the right thing at the wrong time depending on your interpretation. There were a series of events that set Tom on a course that in the end caused havoc with the fabric of time. So, our 2016 is not what it should have been. Instead 2016 was what we are living today and that bright, shiny future we should have had is gone forever.
The story is from Tom's point of view. The reader is a rider in his head and it's not an easy place to be. It's not that Tom is a bad or evil person, he's just a bit whiny, though observant. The story is interesting and the time travel aspect and the aftermath is consistent within the story parameters. Tom had some very interesting observations on life before and after he changed the universe – some were funny, some were incisive and or quirky, and some were just ... well fatuous. As the book progressive, Tom sort of grows on you, but his attitude as the narrator may put you off at first.
There's a lot going on in All Our Wrong Todays--there's romance, time travel, lots of science discussions, and issues of personal rights and responsibilities. Even more interesting is the subtext of the time-honored issue of the morality of scientific inquiry: if you can do something, should you; do you have the right to keep discoveries that could help the world to yourself; and should the result of scientific discovery only be for those who can afford it or for all. Reading about whiny, self-absorbed Tom is certainly worth the effort for the concepts that make up the structure of the story line.