The Psychology of Time Travel

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

I must admit that I was not sure I would like this book when I started reading it. The timelines jump around a lot and there are multiple characters to keep track of - some of them even the same people at different ages! The comparison to the much lauded Station Eleven also was a bit off-putting, as I found that book somewhat soulless and disappointing.

However, I found myself slowly being drawn into the web of threads that Kate Mascarenthas has skillfully written and found it hard to put the book down at all after a little while. You simply have to keep reading, until all the threads come together, and come together in a very satisfying way they do.

I love a time travel story and have read a lot of them, but nothing quite like this before. It really makes you question how time travel might affect a person's mental health and what sort of person they might become once the future (including their own fate) holds no mystery for them. The story is about the changes wrought on the characters themselves and what this leads to. There is plenty to think about here and it is one of those books that will leave an impression long after you have read it.

This is an intriguing book and is very cleverly crafted. The female characters are strong and drive the story, incuding the romantic element, which is very refreshing.

I look forward to more from this author.
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This was an unusual but entertaining read; part murder mystery, part science fiction, it was a balance the author nailed, and I thought the characters were detailed and interesting. Loved that the book was filled with strong, intelligent women who chose their own destinies. There's so much within the pages; I think this would make a great book group read.
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I'd heard so much about this book and was a little worried it wouldn't match up to my hopes but it definitely did! Exceeded them really. I loved the plot and the writing style, it was a really interesting book.
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Such an enticing and interesting concept - I fell in love with the cover and the blurb and I was not disappointed when I finally picked this up.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
What an incredible piece of literature this was! This book completely blew me away. I cannot believe this is Kate Mascarenhas’ first book! The research that must have gone into it and the mastery with which she handled this highly complex story is insane. I was quite frankly gobsmacked.
The Psychology of Time Travel is set in three different time periods. First is 1967, when four brilliant women scientists secluded themselves in the middle of nowhere working on a time machine… and succeeded, pioneering the world of time travelling. Then comes 2017, time travel is in full swing by that point since it became a huge organisation (called the Conclave) after the pioneers’ discovery. Barbara (one of said pioneers, now in her eighties) receives a mysterious message from one of her former colleagues and has to plunge once again into the world of time travel, a world she had left behind many years ago. Finally, there is 2018. After Odette discovers a body on the first day of her new job at the toy museum, she is both traumatised and intrigued. Flashbacks of the body will not leave her alone for months and she feels that the only way for her to get better is to solve the mystery of this murder, and for this, she will have to enter the Conclave’s world…
This book is nothing like I’ve ever read before. The one thing that makes it stand out compared to other books and films about time travel is that, in this, there is no changing the past. I feel like a lot of stories about time travel revolve around the idea of going back into the past in order to change the future’s course of events. But in this book, the future is fated and there is no altering it. You might think at the time that you are making a decision that will influence the course of your future, but really you’re acting in exactly the way you should be for your future to go on as planned.
In The Psychology of Time Travel, aspiring time travellers have to pass an amount of physical and psychological tests before they can work for the Conclave. Due to this rigorous testing, it has become an elite profession and only a handful of members of society are actually time travellers. But as exciting as the job may sound, it is a difficult one to say the least. As a time traveller, you can discover your whole future: who you will marry, whether you’ll have children, the exact time and cause of your death… and you just have to take it as it is. Relationships between time travellers and civilians become incredibly complex. A person who doesn’t time travel will stay in one time period, going about their life unaware of what’s to come; whereas time travellers will be constantly hopping from one century to the next, knowing everything about the future and sometimes becoming the bearer of bad news. Some time travellers can then feel superior to civilians due to their excessive knowledge of the future and can develop superiority complexes.
The insight that Kate has into time travelling is unbelievable. I’m sure we’ve all fantasised before about how we’d like to go back in time, either to change something or to relive a happy moment. But Kate’s book goes into the technicalities and exposes how detrimental time travel can be. Time travellers lose their sense of self, because they have several selves (their younger and older selves that they sometimes encounter in different time periods); and they also become desensitised to death because to them, death isn’t final. They always have the opportunity to go back in time and visit the person they have lost and so they fail to understand how civilians are affected by someone’s death. Some of them even like to play Angel of Death and give civilians a forewarning.
There are so many characters and timelines to keep track of in this book but somehow it all flows seamlessly and I never felt like I was losing the plot. The writing is so clever that it reminded me of JK Rowling, especially in the way the author leaves tiny clues throughout the book that all come together in the end. It is fair to say this is the best book I’ve read in a long while. I could go on for hours but I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. I will definitely read this book again, just so that I can notice all the subtle little details I may have missed on the first read.
And as if I couldn’t like this book any more, it also features lesbian and bisexual characters, which was a delightful surprise!
It is hard to define the genre of this book. I’ve seen it described as a mystery & thriller, and fantasy book. However, I reckon anyone could enjoy it. And if you’ve got a particular interest in time travel, do not hesitate!
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This was a very nifty book! Although I found the writing style a little stark and spartan I thought it was very interesting! 😊
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This is a delightful exploration of the power of the female intellect, the achievements of female scientists and a great mystery to boot. It tells the intertwining stories of Barbara, one of the four pioneers of time travel, her grand daughter, Ruby who finds herself entangled with a time traveller and Odette, the museum volunteer who finds a body and must investigate the crime. What I really enjoyed about the prose was the matter of fact quality to the story telling. Time travel is a fact, it was invented in the 1960s by these four pioneering women and the world has progressed with these facts since that time. So the world of the book is just like our own, with a little tweak. I thought that the characters were compelling and that their interactions were authentic, although I did feel that of the pioneers, Lucille was given a little bit of short shrift. The unravelling of the mystery plot was really well done and although it was a little predictable, the nature of the narrative meant that this wasn't an issue - in fact, I'm not altogether sure that we weren't meant to know who done it from the start! All in all, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and would recommend it to anyone who knows how boss women really are.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Aside from Doctor Who, the Back to the Future trilogy, and that bit in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, my experience with time travel narratives is fairly narrow. I find paradox situations stressful, so Looper was not a comfortable viewing experience for me, and that episode of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror where Homer keeps going back in time and smashing butterflies is really rather concerning for me.

So, it was actually a bit of a delight to discover that this book doesn't have paradoxes. In fact, the nature of time travel within the narrative is such that paradoxes don't exist. Time is fixed, and you know what will happen because it already has. Instead, what The Psychology of Time Travel focuses on is - uh - the psychology of time travel. It asks the questions of how you live a normal life when you know when you will die and when your family will die. It asks how you can return to normal life after being a time traveler and suddenly finding yourself fixed in time. And it asks how you can have a normal relationship when one of you is living your life out of sync.

I loved so many things about this book, the questions it asked and the characters it presented. Not only was the psychology of the title focused on the time travellers themselves, but also their families, their partners and children, and how it changed the very nature of their lives by the sheer proximity. Thematically, it reminded me a lot of How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, but I found it much easier to read, because where that focused on the physics of time travel and pocket universes, this brought things down to a more personal level and the span of characters at different life stages, but also with different relationships to time travel, made it easier to digest and gave a wonderful range of insight.

Each chapter of the novel provides a separate viewpoint, and all of the narrative characters are women who are somehow related to the original four pioneers, the inventors of time travel. For me, the three main threads were from Barbara, one of the pioneers who suffers a nervous breakdown and is all but written out of the history of time travel; Ruby, her granddaughter and a clinical psychologist; and Odette, a young girl who finds an anonymous body in a toy museum and wants to discover the mystery behind it. Interspersed amongst these threads are chapters from the perspective of other women whose lives twist and tangle with the main characters. It was delightful to read a novel with such diversity of cast – all women, of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and neurotypes, all talking about science and psychology and the philosophy of knowing when you will die, or who you will marry, or how your children will grow up.

I felt this book really picked out aspects of time travel which I hadn’t seen touched upon in depth before. Whilst Doctor Who occasionally talks about how travelling through time and space changes people, and makes it hard for them to return to daily life, it doesn’t delve more deeply than that very often. The creative of the Conclave within the book, a time travelling agency, and their professional culture as well as the impact it has had on popular culture is really interesting to track. Rather than focusing on the science side of time travel, Mascarenhas has instead chosen to examine the socio-cultural aspects of it, using a selection of characters to demonstrate and explore the different facets of this on a micro scale, to give a broader impression of the macro impact. Another detail I also loved was the inclusion at the end of the book of the psychometric tests which are discussed at length during the book, developed for the Conclave to ensure that all their workers are still psychologically safe to undertake time travel.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. Aside from the cover being beautiful, it raises ideas which I have only really considered in passing in relation to time travel, and cracks them wide open for deeper investigation. If you are more of a fan of the physics of time travel, this might not be the book for you; however if you like seeing how things could impact and change a society and culture, you will find plenty to get your teeth into here.

Briefly:

A full cast of strong, smart women, of different races and backgrounds, meaning the book absolutely smashes the Bechdel Test and makes for a very refreshing read.
This is a thoughtful and philosophical approach to the effects of time travel, taking into consideration not just the traveller but those around them, and the psychological impact that can have. Changing attitudes to death, aging, relationships are all documented and demonstrated as the initial impact of time travel ripples out from the traveller to all the people connected with them.
It’s all handled very lightly too – nothing is too bogged down with a need to explain the whys and wherefores of the science. It is how it is, that is all you need to know. Anything else that becomes relevant is revealed as and went needed, meaning there aren’t huge blocks of exposition to slow the story progress.
I would have liked to hear more from Lucille, as the only one of the Pioneers we don’t hear much from, however her story appears to be more removed from the central plot so more appearances by her would have been extraneous.
If you want a decent contrast for a totally different perspective on time travel, I think this would pair very neatly with How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe, which is a more physics-based approach to the topic, with a touch of humour.
Rating: 5/5 – it wasn’t a perfect book, but I really felt like it did something completely new and very refreshing with an age-old topic.
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The cover alone had me excited to read this book and the blurb further enhanced that. I found the whole premise for the novel interesting. The book beings with the four pioneers in the 60’s and then jumps forward to present day producing a wonderful page-turner and a world I wanted to know so much more about. With time travel we get a whole new world, along with challenges and even greater fears. It was wonderful to read about a world with a changed history and the level of detail provided by the author was amazing. The characters in the story were well fleshed out and felt real to me as I read their story. There were lots of themes explored as well as some powerful emotions. The author really did her research with this book and it shows as we get a fully fleshed out story that flows. I loved the aspect of time travel and the effects it has on the mind and this is really well done. Relationships are also explored and there’s so much to say and think about when you’ve read this book. It’s a wonderful read and one I know I’ll be talking about and recommending to friends for quite some time.
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Thankyou to NetGalley,  Head Of Zeus and Kate Mascarenhas for the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of The Psychology of Time Travel. 
I found the book to be an enjoyable read.  The storyline was woven together beautifully and the central characters were well developed and engaging.  The description promised a lot and I thought it certainly delivered. 
Definitely well worth a read.
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Worth Some Of Your Time

Whilst I had some basic problems with the concept, the book was an interesting journey both in time and personal developments.
Unfortunately, I struggled to understand how such a transformational technology could somehow be retained by a single company carrying out time travel ‘in-house’. The basic science or procedure (!) was never given any credible explanation. 
Further, the concept of multiple versions of the same person appearing in the same time period was bizarre in many respects and again not properly explained or exploited.
One would have thought that access to this technology would be strictly regulated by governments and there would have been a flow of future inventions brought back for the benefit of mankind. 
The number of characters also confused me to an extent and some I felt could easily have taken a greater role – a bit of a waste perhaps.
This book was provided as an advance copy by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Note : Reviewed on Amazon 13 August 2018   https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3PABQOCLAUW7C/ref=pe_1572281_66412651_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
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This book had my interest on the premise alone, enough to give it a shot - but I didn't expect it to be such an enjoyable ride. 

Usually when fiction tackles time travel concepts you get glaring paradoxes, intentional blurring of details or overdone tropes but this book actually pulled it off well. Rather than focusing on the usual quandaries faced by time travelling instead we had a plethora of content I'd never even considered before!

From the humble beginnings of the four 'pioneers' in the '60s (which most books would have kept focus on) we jump forwards to the modern era and have what happened between was filled in through very natural exposition and character discovery. The result is a rich and vast world I wanted to know more and more about. What a fantastic concept to show modern day Britain with a history knocked off course by the creation of the conclave and decades of shared knowledge. 
I was repeatedly impressed by the level of detail that Mascarenhas took things to (the time travel terminology/slang definitely being one of them!) and the areas she covered. 

Over the course of reading this book I found myself bringing up the book in conversation at work and home. I couldn't help but talk about it. It was also at this point, in describing the book, that I suddenly realised there were no male characters of note in the book at all. This absolutely took nothing away from the story. The women in this story were fully formed and real enough to be flawed. Such a refreshing experience in sci-fi! I was pleasantly surprised by the romantic sub-plot between two women as well. This was such a natural progression of the story, with no fan-fare or overdue focus - it was just right and wonderfully depicted. 

The themes covered by the book are equal parts beautiful and painful - just like life itself. What an incredible debut novel from a voice I am keen to hear more from.
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Thank you Netgalley for this review copy for an impartial review.
I had seen this book advertised before I had the opportunity to review it so was really pleased to be asked.
I thought that it may be a little more humourous than it was but the storylines were interesting and it gave a whole new side to time travel.  This book requires you to think (and sometimes re-read pages) to keep up with the characters and their stories but it was well worth the read and the stories culminated in a pretty good ending.
All in all, an interesting fantasy tale.
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3.5/5. Full disclosure: I received this from House of Zeus via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Four women discover time travel in the year 1967. However, as time travel opens the world up to new possibilities, it also opens new challenges, paradoxes and fears. Death suddenly becomes much less permanent, and insanity far more inevitable.

Mascarenhas has clearly thought through the mechanics of her world; she seems to enjoy putting her characters into deeper and deeper holes, forcing them to claw their ways out. In fact, the title explains exactly what this novel is: a psychological exploration of what would happen to people if time travel were to exist.

One of the most fascinating insights the novel delves into is how time travel affects mental illness. When a character develops an eating disorder, she does not merely display disordered eating behaviour; rather, she ends up returning to the same moment in time over and over again, eating with all of the other versions of herself who have travelled back to this same moment.

Relationships as a whole lose their meaning. How can death matter, if you can always visit someone in a different timeline? How about love? Is it cheating if you travel to 100 years in the future before you do it? What are the power imbalances inherent in a relationship when one of you can see the future, and the other can't? Are you really in love if you stay together because you know that's your future?

The questions Mascarenhas explores in this novel are fascinating, and as she crisscrosses the stories of different interconnected women in different timelines, she builds a picture of a world that is as terrifying as it is intriguing.

While this is a novel that will make you think, these questions are told at the expense of the narrative. The story isn't what's important here, nor are the characters. Some readers will want these elements to be further fleshed out, or for worldbuilding questions ((view spoiler)) to have been answered. 

While the story does stand just fine on its own, readers should be aware going in that this is a story that's designed to mess with your head, your perception of time, and your sense of permanency—not one where you'll find your new literary best friend. The feminist in your soul will sing, but you're unlikely to find yourself in any of these characters.
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I rather enjoyed this time-travel “timey-wimey” novel, and loved the conceit of having multiple versions of characters all flitting about time zones chatting to each other and generally knowing more about what’s going on than other characters (or the reader). I’d say it’s excellently plotted and constructed, rather than necessarily brilliant writing - possibly for the best given the requirement to track time zones  and who knows what when. INterestingly i was approaching 3/4 of the way through before i clocked that there were very few ‘speaking parts’ for men, all too rare in any discussion of science, real or fictional.
As a very minor point, i particularly enjoyed the wee nods to Patrick Troughton, whether in Dr Who or the importance of the Box of Delights.
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Description
1967: Four female scientists invent a time-travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril...

2017: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady...

2018: When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, flesh. But when the inquest fails to answer any of her questions, Odette is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

My review

The story kicks off with the introduction of the main characters - four female scientists 'Barbara, Margaret, Lucille and Grace ' on the verge of making time travel possible!  Each character is very different, which helps because as the story unfolds it jumps back and forth in time narrated through the voices of different characters. With time travel also occurring within these time jumps, it could become confusing but the author cleverly manages to weave these intertwined threads and hold them together while the plot moves along at a quick pace. Towards the end I did have to refer back in some parts to double-check the links between the different characters (due to the time hopping and characters appearing together as the younger/older versions of themselves).  

Being on the verge of such a big discovery takes it's toll on some of the characters and we get to experience their success (from which some will rise), and their lows.  Through the latter the book explores many issues surrounding mental illness (triggered by time travel)  and the isolation it can cause . The characters are mainly female (which is rare) and inclusive and diverse which creates a richer and fuller story. We get to see a multiple view instead of one dimensional look-in.   The book also allows a view into how people are perceived and treated based on skin colour and as an example we see how Odette is treated after stumbling across a body and how her fear of the racism within the police force influenced her career choice. The book also features a relationship between two female characters and the difficulties they face in being together because of society and the time travelling element.  

This is a complex murder mystery thriller centered around physics and time travel with an added layer examining psychology and the human mind!  That and the more inclusive all female leads, offers something new which also enabled extra dimensions to this story.  As one of the original founding members of the female time travelling pioneers and being featured on the cover, I do wish that Lucille's character was developed more. She briefly appears throughout the book and a little more so towards the end, but standing alongside the other three original time travellers, her story is lacking.  

The story was exciting and moves at a fast pace and there's so many twists and turns due to the number of characters and the time travel added further complexities. Such a jam-packed story means that we never really get into the individual characters heads and see what they're really thinking or the reasons behind their behaviour.  At times the story seemed a little far fetched - the time travelling conclave did seem to exist without much interference from the government or any external authorities and accountability.  The health/contamination procedures seemed lacking, the odd court case judgements and time travellers seem to come and go as they pleased, with no set rules for future selves meeting with multiple past selves and interfering with the past/future and the dealing with time paradoxes, but this is fiction and if you can suspend your belief's and immerse yourself into this wonderful story, you're in for a roller-coaster of a ride!  I enjoyed reading this book and the ending wraps everything up nicely.

The cover is a beautiful!  The characters, the elements of physics (dna strands), the rabbit (and more) in a mirror image with the the hourglass (time element) heading up the top is perfection! It reminds me of an embroidered cross stitch pattern, while at the same time looking like the after effects from time travelling i.e. all the pieces being put back together!

Thank you to Kate Mascarenhas, NetGalley and Head of Zeus for this ARC. I have provided my honest review.
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I absolutely loved the idea of this book.  However, as I read it, it wavered between 4 and 5 stars for me - the reason it ended up with 4 is that I didn't like the last part of the book, having the test papers.  I'm sure it is a clever idea and will appeal to many people, but I was tracking how many percent of the book was left so thought there would be more writing and more ends tied up, when suddenly the end of the story was upon me.  I think I would have found the test papers more interesting as a prologue, and I would have been more likely to read them then.  
Apart from that, the rest of the book was great, and I did enjoy the story.
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'The Psychology Of Time Travel' is Kate Mascarenhas' exciting debut and mixes a variety of genres in a special way. Part mystery, part thriller, part science fiction, this novel has a little something for everyone within it. It also boldly explores difficult but important themes and is an absolute pleasure to read.

The story begins with the introduction of four incredible female scientists - Barbara, Margaret, Estelle and Grace. who are on the verge of inventing a time-travel machine. Unfortunately, just before they are to debut their creation Barbara suffers a nervous breakdown live on TV and as a result she is ejected from the project. The others decide to create the Conclave, an institution aiming to monopolise the time-travel industry. In 2017, Barbara and her granddaughter, Ruby, are given evidence of a death the following year which is linked to the Conclave and Barbara questions whether she should give in to her cravings to time-travel for the last time. In 2018, Odette happens upon a horrendous scene and a body. She resolves to investigate the who, how and why of the situation.

There are many different strands to the story and it jumps back and forth in time with the various elements of the plot. I was rather worried that I would be confused by the intertwining stories and rapidly changing times but for the most part it was simple to follow. At its heart this is feminist fiction with few male characters and a particular focuson the strength and intellectual capacity of the women involved. To say the plot is busy and action-packed is an understatement, as the author also discusses weighty and thought-provoking topics such as mental health, psychology, OCD, anxiety, love and death, to name but a few, and explores all of this within the time-travelling context. Superbly written with a whole cast of characters that are developed sufficiently, and a complex, well thought out plot that holds your attention but challenges you too.

All in all, this is a highly original take on time-travel with a wide range of important topical issues playing a part. There are some people who would say that this suffers from a mistake debut author's often make: cramming too much into the plot making it too complex and overcomplicated in the process and I can see why. If you can keep up though you'll thoroughly enjoy it and find it a rewarding experience as I did.

Many thanks to Head of Zeus for an ARC. I was not required to post a review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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This is a science fiction mystery about four women who invented time travel in the 1960s.

There are some quite original ideas in this book and it has a decent mystery story line but I found the writing to be rather flat a very basic in its descriptiveness at times. Not as good as I had hoped but generally an okay read.
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This book sounded like an interesting story, and while it is outside my normal genres, the cover and blurb grabbed me straight away. The story overall was solid and interesting concept, and there were a number of unique time travel ideas that the author was able to weave in, however he writing was fairly average, and the level of description was lacking. On a number of occasions the author just told us straight out what the character was thinking and feeling, instead of using these as opportunities to develop the characters. Following the different people and years was difficult, despite each change being titled with the year and main character, and some of the underdeveloped sub-characters were quite forgettable, leaving me at times wondering who it was I was reading about. Mascarenhas touches on a number of social issues, some in ways that made me stop and think, others that made me cringe with how tacked on they felt.
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