The Psychology of Time Travel

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

As time travel stories go this one had a plethora of delicious ingredients. Lots of strong female characters. Diversity of representation. A bittersweet same-sex romance. A murder mystery. Touching family relationships. And, obviously, time travel. It is extremely well constructed and engages from first to last. It requires only the gentlest of mental gymnastics to get your head around the concepts, paradoxes and impossibilities and rewards the reader with many engrossing twists and turns. It also explores the psychology effect of time travel and how the travellers come to regard death when they live a life that renders it virtually obsolete. 
A really great read. Would love it if Odette went on to be a time travelling detective in an ongoing series!
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My all-time favourite TV show is Doctor Who so the concept of time travel is rather dear to my heart. The ability to explore anywhere or when is just so tempting.  Its more recent regenerations have now explored the complications that time travel can throw up especially upon your own life. It’s also very hard not to notice alterative history becoming a key theme be that the dystopia of the Handmaid’s Tale or the weird alterative universes in TV shows like Fringe. In this smart and simply gorgeous novel Kate Mascarenhas delivers a brilliant tale of four women who changed the world and then the consequences of their actions that span time and all the highs and lows of being human.

In 1967 four exceptionally gifted scientists have a plan for time travel and have attracted funding for the military and other parties. Eventually they successfully transport Patrick Troughton (the bunny not the actor) a few hours into the future.  Very quickly the four geniuses experiment sending themselves to meet their future selves. Funding beckons and these four are going to be the equivalent of the moon landing astronauts but then during their first live BBC interview Barbara has a nervous breakdown. Her colleagues Margaret, Grace and Lucille all decide that although she is recovering, she cannot be involved any further in their future work to aid her recovery and not bring any future public disdain on their own work.

Margaret becomes the head of the time travelling business known as The Conclave that stretches at least 300 years into the future; Grace is a celebrated artist and time traveller while Lucille manages the flow of information from the future into the past and investigate crime. This is a universe where no reset button gets pressed – time travel is an accepted part of life for fifty years. Crimes are investigated; foods from the future traded and plant life saved from extinction. Families understand they may meet their children as adults. There are a wholeweb of time travellers passing within and beyond their own timestreams trading love, ideas and jokes. While the remaining three pioneers move into fame and fortune Barbara marries and has only revealed to her only grandchild Ruby her illustrious past. Which is just when we are told of a mysterious death six months in the future where an unnamed woman is killed in a lock room.

 Lets just start off by saying this is one of those tales that just sucks you in. These four women are competent, respected and assured in their beliefs and they succeed. The early part of the novel is very much your standard pioneering scientists in the lab, and it helps they’re such a good blend from upper class Margaret, focused Barbara, working-class Grace and the well-balanced Lucille. That moment of triumph and then the despair as we see what happen to Barbara really takes you inside the heart of the tale. The brilliance of the novel is that the next fifty years are then told in a weaving selection of tales from past, present and future (out of sequence) working out how these characters got to their final dynamic.

The core of the plot is the mystery as to which woman has been murdered and by whom? We have four very bright central characters who have had huge impacts on each other; not all of which have been positive. Alongside them we have a range of women (and this novel is filled with women in key roles and no one questions why they have these roles0 who across various time periods play key roles supporting the four from Ruby wanting to piece her Gran’s life together to Odette a woman who when she discovered the body as part of her shift at a museum finds she is understandably haunted and ants to understand what caused this trauma. We also see the lives of the Conclave Agents especially Fay who we meet at times; out of order, ranging as a new eager agent to one jaundiced by the decisions and tasks she has done for the greater good. It’s a very very good mystery and the way that clues from the future start to influence the investigations of the past make this a unique investigation!

But added to crime, science fiction and alternate history and its biggest success is the study of how humans will react to time travel and trauma. The ability to see your future self; meet your family in the past and explore humanity’s highs and lows is intoxicating and possibly means the recruits are more towards the more extreme sides of humanity.  Several of their hazing rituals for new agents are horrifying and cruel they see those of us in linear time as limited. Is that just humanity; time travel’s psychological impact or possibly the result of those in charge creating a cold corporate culture? You could easily see this as commentary for other industries that have had huge impacts on the lives of mortals. But I also liked that the lives of the non-time travellers such as Ruby and Odette are equally fascinating. There is a reminder that time travel can be an emotional experience for us not simply a mechanical one. Odette is trapped in her memories discovering the grisly crime scene and Ruby is cut off from living her life until she meets a time travel who she tentatively wants to start a relationship with (provided they can be trusted). Mascarenhas can very easily move the reader from warm family comedy to horror to romance in just a few pages and considering this is not a giant tome of a story its pacing is excellent. 

I am so glad I read this book. I think if you enjoy the work of Claire North and particularly The Fifteen Lives of Harry August, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Mascarenhas is clearly a talented author who I am going to be watching for future novels with huge interest.  If I read many more books as good as this in 2019 then we are in for an exceptional year.
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5 Stars

Recommended for anyone interested in the concept of time travel

In the year 1967, four pioneers invent a time travel machine and begin to create rules and rights for a brand-new world. In 2017, a young therapist attempts to unravel the history of her grandmother, who was ostracised by the time travel community. And in 2018, a student attempts to solve a confusing case where an old woman appears to have been shot in a locked room on her own. ‘The Psychology of Time Travel’ takes these three narratives and intertwines them to create an excellent tale of mystery, romance and deep reflection upon some of the problems travelling through time could cause.

One of my favourite things about this book was the comprehensiveness with which it analyses the idea of time travel. It is a popular concept in science fiction novels, yet often introduced with little explanation of the rules and obvious contradictions that arise. This book chooses to focus heavily on these contradictions, such as meeting future and past versions of oneself, dealing with death and romance and retrieving technology and knowledge from the future. Introduction of time travel ‘lingo’ also makes the world feel more real and the concepts less alien. By the end of the book the concept of time travel seems plausible and explored fully; yet perhaps the greatest achievement of this novel is that the explanations are spread out and tied into the story so that it never feels tedious nor bogged down with exposition.

The story itself is another achievement of the book. The book uses an almost entirely female cast yet it doesn’t feel forced nor does it stray into ‘girl power’ territory with flawless female icons. All of the characters are very believable and perhaps one criticism could be the length of the book; it is fairly short and I felt there were many interesting secondary characters that I would love to learn more about. This is particularly key in the first chapters, when the actual invention of time travel is breezed through fairly quickly.

As with any time travel book, the multitude of different characters and timelines can make the book slightly confusing and I would highly recommend some sort of map or character list as one reads the book. The characters are all intertwined which ties the book together nicely but again can make it tough to keep track of who knows what as the mystery progresses. The chapters are very short and sequentially focus on the three different storylines, which can be annoying when you really want to know about one storyline in particular. The time travel also means we know the conclusion of the story long before it actually occurs but I would argue it is satisfying enough to not be a huge issue!

Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the idea of time travel; the number of new angles and interpretations the book manages to come up with is incredible! It can be a bit confusing but that is to be expected with such a subject matter and the story is wholesome and interesting enough to tie the book together perfectly.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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In this alternate reality four women invent time travel in the 1960s thus changing the world and their own fate irrevocably. Three go onto pioneer it's uses (and abuses) but for one, Barbara a breakdown is triggered. Fast forward to 2017 and she, abandoned by the women she she lived and breathed science with, has lived an ordinary life, never again included in any time travelling exploits. But then she and her granddaughter Ruby receive a message telling them of the mysterious death of an elderly lady which will happen in the next year. The woman that discovers that body, in 2018, becomes obsessed with discovering what happened but any investigations and the inquest seem perfunctorily at best. She becomes determined to unravel the truth. No matter what the cost is.

Well this book almost has it all. Time travel? Check. Romance? Yep. Mystery? Plenty. Disturbing concepts of what desensitized time travellers get up to in their spare time? Definitely! The very idea of "forecasting" and a "legacy f***" is pretty horrifying! But leaving that icky thought aside this was an intriguing and thought provoking story, which for a first novel is remarkably accomplished. Usually in time travel novels and films there are massively glaring plot holes that are hard to ignore. But this felt strangely authentic, maybe because in this world time travel is not an unusual thing. In any case I very much enjoyed this novel and look forward to more from Kate Mascarenhas.
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Four female scientists on the verge of creating a time machine..Unfortunately the time travel has a detrimental affect on one of the team. I didn't really manage to relate to any of the characters. Although I usually enjoy Sci Fi, this didn't inspire me. Great idea.
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For female scientist inventing time travel! What's not to like? I think The Psychology of Time Travel is a good combination of time-travel, a murder mystery, and smart independent women.  I enjoyed the way time travel was incorporated as a normal part of the society and the way it changed people.   The story unfolds simultaneously in different time lines, which is fascinating and extremely appropriate for this story.  As a crime novel, I don't think it's particularly intriguing, but the world around it is highly enjoyable.

Looking forward to Kate Mascarenhas' next book!

I received this ebook via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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If there was one song that I would attribute to The Psychology of Time Travel it would be Beyonce's female anthem; 'Run the world (girls)'. I really enjoyed the dynamic characters and the premise of this book, and I was quick to recommend it to others who shared a love of time travel, murder mystery, and girl power.

Alternating between three points of view, The psychology of Time Travel is a book that delves into family, friendship and trusting yourself. I really enjoyed learning about the female scientists Margaret, Lucille, Grace, and Barbara - who were all so different and complex.

Having said that, there were one or two moments in the beginning when I was a little bored as Mascarenhas set the scene, but for the most part, I was intrigued enough about the characters and was driven by the need to know how the unidentified woman came to be murdered behind a locked door.

I think if you are after a read that contains strong female characters and have ever wondered what it would be like if mankind discovered and utilized time travel, then you will really enjoy this book.
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A really interesting read with lots of time-hopping, mystery and unique characters. I haven’t read any books that included time travel as a normal part of society and it was really intriguing to see how it worked with some people choosing to become time travellers and how they become desensitised to normal human parts of like such as death.
The writing is wonderful too, making this book a joy to read and I couldn’t put it down once I started it.
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Having read just about every time travel novel there is I was wondering how different this tale could be. As soon as I began to read it I had no need to wonder any more - this is a unique novel containing time travel with so many fabulous ideas.

I was sucked in straight away - rather than just someone hoping about in time this book has a time travel HQ called The Conclave - it's recognised by the world at large that time travel exists and you can sign up to be a time traveller. 

Even when I was reading this book I was thinking about it - the author really created a whole other world. The time travellers have their own vocabulary and also they can meet and interact with themselves in future or past times, sometimes many versions of them at once!

If that wasn't all enough there is also a murder mystery to solve too. Really this book ended far too soon for me. My only reservation was that I was unable to read it for long periods and so at times I had forgotten who was who. However, I realised that some of the time you didn't know who was who as you hadn't met them yet!

I would caution against this book for those who do not subscribe to the theory of time travelling existing, as you will not like the book, or think it believable; but for someone like me it was a joy to read.

I'm giving this remarkable book five out of five stars. My thanks to netgalley for an ARC to review.
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Things I liked about this book:

Firstly, I think the cover of this book is gorgeous. When I was in Waterstones last month I saw it on a table and my eye was immediately drawn, so I’m surprised it doesn’t seem to have hit any charts. It looks like an embroidery piece which you understand the relevance of when you read the novel.
I thought the book started really strongly. For the first 20% or so, it was easy to keep track of the story and timelines, and I cared about who the murdered body belonged to and why someone had killed them.
The discrimination against mental health sufferers felt quite real to me. Although it wasn’t easy to read about people being discriminated against because of their MH, that sort of thing happens all the time.
There was a lot of diversity with skin colour, MH, ages etc. and I also loved that all 4 of the scientists were female. I think this book’s idea was in the right place and it was trying to do something good.

Things I didn’t like about this book:

There were too many things to keep track of while I was reading. There are at least 4 main characters I can think of, and the chapters dance between the characters very frequently. I have read novels that have done this successfully but I didn’t think any of the “main” characters had an individual enough voice that I could remember who was supposed to have said what, when. I couldn’t relate to any of the characters enough because I was trying to keep track of everything.
While I think the book was trying to do good with all its representation, it was hard to remember which characters were gay, POC, MH sufferers… There were too many names to remember with actions that were all too similar to each other.
Adding to the confusion even further (!), the time periods were also difficult to remember. One minute we were in 1960-something, then 2018, 1960s again and then the 80’s, yet there was little to separate the time periods.
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A vibrant tale about four female scientists who successfully create a time machine, and a mysterious murder years later. It should be a celebration  of feminist innovation, but is let down by embarrassing moments such as when the four hold hands going in to the time machine, or share a bed to keep warm (would you ever write those things if the characters were four male scientists?) That said, all the time travel stuff is extremely fun and amusing, and the novel delves into mental health, acknowledging the changing attitudes over time and the way in which stigma hurts everyone.
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Very intriguing and unique premise. Love to read any book that centres round time travel. However did drag at times and was also hard to follow. In parts was an enjoyable read but not a page turner.
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This book was wonderful! It combines all of my favourite elements in a story - strong female characters, science fiction and deep and believable friendships. I really enjoyed how the different timelines and characters came together, and I found the way the time travel actually worked really clever. This is an amazingly crafted novel and I am impressed this is the author's debut. I really look forward to reading more from her.
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You had me at time travel...

My (somewhat over-active) imagination has always been thrilled at the idea of time travel - however unlikely it is ever to happen, my mind refuses to give up on the idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - bursting with ideas and hypotheses on the various impacts that time travel would  have on us, interwoven with an intriguing plot, and populated by strong characters - some more likeable than others.

I hope that this will be the start of a series - the possibilities are as infinite as time itself!

My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC in return for my honest review.
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good easy read . storyline easy to gollow. look forward to reading more books from this author. 4 star read.
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If you're a fan of a murder mystery, how cool does a time travel murder mystery sound? The Psychology of Time Travel, the debut novel by Kate Mascarenhas, is exactly that, and much more. 

In 2018, archaeology student Odette finds a dead body in the basement of the toy museum where she volunteers. The elderly woman is riddled with bullets, but no one knows who she is. The door was locked from the inside and there's no weapon. Odette replays the scene in her mind and becomes obsessed with solving the mystery - who is the victim? And who is the murderer?

In 1967, four female scientists invent time travel. Margaret, Grace, Lucille and Barbara invite the BBC to witness their achievement but the interview goes horribly wrong when Barbara, for whom time travel has taken its toll, has a mental health breakdown. Soon everyone is talking about 'the time traveller who went mad' and Margaret encourages the other scientists to permanently shut Barbara out or risk jeopardising their whole operation. 

In 2017, Barbara and her psychologist granddaughter, Ruby, receive a mysterious letter foretelling the death of a woman five months into the future. Who sent the letter and how do they know about a death that hasn't happened yet? Worse still, does the letter predict the death of Barbara (Granny Bee)?

In her debut novel, Kate Mascarenhas has created a detailed and absorbing alternate version of reality. Time travel is controlled by an organisation called the Conclave, headed by power-hungry Margaret. Time travellers wear a tracker watch that counts heartbeats to determine what year they'd be in if they'd lived their life in chronological order. Multiple selves co-exist in the same timeline including several versions of oneself attending their own funeral. There's also a bacteria called macromonas, generated by time travel and which can be fatal. 

The novel explores the consequences of time travel including its impact on mental health and how it is dealt with. In an interview with Head of Zeus, chartered psychologist Mascarenhas has said she was influenced by psychological screening tests conducted by NASA and an appendix at the end of the book contains a detailed psychometric test for time travellers indicates just how thorough Mascarenhas has been in her world building for this novel. 

It also delves into attitudes towards death. As time travellers can visit loved ones, and versions of themselves after they have passed away, the Conclave introduces compulsory initiation rituals for new time travellers (known as 'wenches') to neutralise their responses to death. The impact of these rites is that time travellers become alienated from others, as one character muses: "I like watching people have emotions I don't feel anymore." 

The Psychology of Time Travel is noteworthy for its large cast of entirely female viewpoint characters, all of whom are diverse and representational. The story is strengthened by the core relationships between these characters including familial (mother/daughter, grandmother/granddaughter) and romantic, particularly the relationship between present-day Ruby and past Grace which references a beautifully written allegory - 'my life is a ring of a very strange shape'. 

A thought-provoking and deeply original novel that will leave you believing anything is possible.
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The beautiful cover drew to me to this book like a moth to a flame, however, I slightly misunderstood what this book was going to entail. I mistakenly thought it was going to be a dual time/ Historical travel into the past type novel. But what I got is a quirky and clever sci-fi book populated by women scientists.

The characters are nearly all female and clever/ strong so there is a bit of a feminist leaning to it which is a bit different to most male-dominated science fiction. 

It's about a group of women who invent a time-travel machine which can only travel forward in time and it does jump forward to 2017/ 2018 and back to the original period of 1967quite a lot. I found it a bit confusing and there is a very long drawn out bit in the middle which nearly lost my attention. However, there are plenty of twists and a mystery to solve if you stick with this credible debut novel.
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I found this book very easy to get into.  I like that in the first few chapters when we meet the pioneers the author doesn't go too far into the science of time travel, and keeps things interesting but light.  As the story progresses I enjoyed seeing a different take on time travel to some that I've read before.  I particularly liked how Mascarenhas covered topics such as wages and taxes, and how relationships could work between time travellers and non travellers.  The fact that she went to the trouble of creating terms for different types of relationships (between past and future people) showed she had given this serious thought.  I also enjoyed the questionnaires at the end of the book for the same reason.

Character wise I thought the characters were well drawn.  I intensely disliked Margaret from very early on, and this didn't improve as the book went on. I always think that disliking characters to that level shows that I've really engaged with the book, and with all of the characters involved, almost as if they are real people.  

In terms of the ending I was definitely happy. Without giving too much away, I liked that the author didn't leave us with a promise of the time travel industry being magically fixed, but did provide a plan for how to improve things.

I did have one other thought whilst reading this book, and that was that I noticed that the male characters were all very minor, and in general the time travellers and other large groups of people were always referred to as women.  At first I thought this was a little odd, but as I thought about the idea more I realised that if that was the other way around it probably wouldn't be questioned.  This isn't a criticism of the author, or of the book, more a point of interest that I noticed, that made me question my preconceptions of how things should be.

Overall I'm going to give this 4*, I really enjoyed it and found it a refreshing take on time travel.  It's the first book by Kate Mascarenhas, and I'd definitely recommend it.  I'll be keeping an eye out for her next novel.
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An excellent use of time travel, multiverse and paradox loops. This is also a good thriller that brings you to a fitting climax
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I loved this book, what a wonderful story! It is brilliantly female-focused and outrageously twisty. I hope there will be more books about these characters. A great read for those who think sci-fi isn’t for them, and so much more positive and enjoyable than the “feminist dystopia” trend.
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