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All Our Wrong Todays

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Wow!  Time travel, alternate futures, sci-if (reality?)
For fans of Douglas Adams, or anybody who loves the written word, dystopia/utopia, time travel, physics, paradoxes, anything that requires your brain to work, please read this!
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ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS by Elan Mastai will likely appeal to you if you like to read sci-fi titles.  Unfortunately, I found it to have an awfully slow set-up and I could not summon much interest in the main character, Tom Barron.  As he explains at the beginning of ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS, the world is "wrong" due to some action that he has taken.  However, I read the first 65 or so pages and was still waiting to find out what that action was although I did enjoy some of the scientific explanation about time passing. As they say, "so many book, so little time," and I sadly decided not to finish this one.  However, ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal so if you are interested in time travel – Tom hints at leaving 2016 to go to July 11, 1965 and witness the birth of a new invention – this may be one for you.
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It's not you, it's me. I had to break up with you after the first two or three chapters because you didn't hold my interest. And that's the kiss of death for any relationship. Your audience is out there; we just aren't right for each other.

p.s. Your sense of humor didn't strike me as funny as advertised, either. Sorry. Don't mean to kick you when you're down.
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This book was smart, funny, and incredibly human. I loved it. Rather than tearing through it as I usually would, I read it slowly, wanting to savor each moment. It was incredibly entertaining and yet still managed to be a heartfelt reflection on what it means to live. It reads like a cross between The Martian and The Chronicles of St. Mary's, with a somewhat irreverent approach that still manages to be deep. 

Tom was a narrator in the style of Mark Watney (minus some swearing). He's a screw-up and more focused on women and love than making something of himself in his world. Despite that, he is incredibly easy to connect to (perhaps due to the slightly self-deprecating sense of humor?). I adored him as a narrator.

One hazard of science fiction novels is that sometimes they get so technical, you no longer recognize which way is up. All Our Wrong Todays absolutely does not have that problem. Since Tom is essentially technologically illiterate, his explanations are very down to earth and easily understandable. For those of you more interested in the science and various theories about time travel/continuing theories, those are explored as well (mostly through conversations between secondary characters). 

While this is a science fiction book, it ultimately is about more than adventure. It's about family and love and what it means to be human. In a way, it's a coming of age tale set against a fantastic backdrop. The author does an absolutely fantastic job of exploring human emotions, the good AND the ugly. Incomprehensible events happen (as they do in everyone's life) and the characters have to learn how to continue living. 

Penny was the perfect love interest. She was funny, smart, and imperfect. She made Tom a better man and didn't allow him to lose sight of himself. The contrast between the carnal relationship of Penelope and Tom with the warm, loving one of Penny and Tim was very well done and really highlighted the differences between the two worlds. There was one scene in particular with Penny that was difficult to read. I was glad that the author showed the fallout of those decisions. The emotional aftermath was brutal and really delved into the heart of their relationship. 

All Our Wrong Todays is a book to read slowly, savoring the experience the way you would a fine wine. Even if you don't normally read science fiction, I think you'll enjoy this book. I highly recommend this book that will leave you contemplating it long after you've finished reading. I would absolutely recommend this book.
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A fascinating look at time travel. Good characters, thoughtful story. Very interesting look at paradoxes. Really made me ponder. I would definitely recommend this to any one interested in time travel. Unusual writing style, not your typical novel, but not too out there to enjoy. It caused me to wonder are there time travelers among us?
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4 Stars

It's hard to put into words how I felt about this book. There are so many things and so many feelings that I'm not sure exactly where to start. Overall, I enjoyed this book, it was convoluted, but in the best way possible. I was constantly wanting to know what happened next and simultaneously rooting for and hating the main characters.

All Our Wrong Todays is a bit longwinded in some areas, a bit compressed in others, a bit too "literary" for my tastes and a bit too sad.  Writing all that stuff down, even I wonder if I really enjoyed this book but the truth is I did. Usually after reading a book I can tell if it will appeal to the people I usually share books with. I can't on this one. Part of me thinks that everyone will love the fantastical time traveling elements but the emotions of this book might turn those same people off. The main character's life is sad for pretty much the first 40% of the book. Then, his sadness turns to guilt for another large portion. The author/narrator/whatever goes on various lofty tangents about various things using big smart people words, that I honestly had to skim over because if I had read the whole thing then my eyes would have fallen out of my head and rolled across the floor and its hard to find eyeballs in dark. But I still liked it.

For me, this felt like a blend between science and literary fiction. It had enough science-y, mind bending adventure elements that I enjoyed the story but not enough that it felt like true science fiction. This would probably appeal more to readers that enjoy literary fiction but can also suspend their sense of reality for a bit while they read a story. Not my normal cuppa tea but enjoyable all the same.
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Wonderful story! Looking forward to reading more by this author!
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Very clever and a joy to read. Great concept that is executed quite flawlessly. An author to watch.
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I was excited to read this book due to all the positive buzz but unfortunately I just couldn't get into it. I usually like sci-fi but the stream of consciousness format didn't work for me. I would recommend it to someone who really loves hard core sci-fi.
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3.5 stars. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It took me a while to get into this book - the first third was a lot of set-up, which I realize was needed, but kind of dragged for me. Once the time-travel took place, I was more engaged with the book and the twists and turns that come with this sort of topic. It was also fairly technical in quite a bit of the book, so keep that in mind. I thought the characters were well done, except for the main character - he actually came across as much younger than he turned out to be. I was thinking early twenties at the most -- but he's actually in his 30s. The overall story, however, ended up being something I enjoyed reading, once I got into it. The author is a screenwriter, and I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up a movie at some point. Certainly a decent debut novel, and I would try others by the author.
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I'm pretty much compelled with some inner obsession to pick up any book I find that deals with time travel. Because of this deep fascination, I've read a lot of books with this theme and they can get a little repetitive. I've found that very few of them really deal all the way with the true dynamics and mathematical issues surrounding the possibility of traveling through time. I've just come to accept this as part of the story - ignoring the parts that make it less than realistic. The fact that I'm so used to ignoring these things is what made this book a little shocking at first. For the first time in my reading experience, I've encountered a book that addressed the spatial issue in time travel. I've got a friend who I've debated time travel with countless times and he always refers back to the issue of how the earth is constantly moving. To travel through time we have to move through time and space to an exact location which would require intense amounts of math that no computers are capable of. I could go on about my joy with this forever, but you'll get it more if you read the book.

In retrospect after reading this book, I shouldn't like Tom at all. He's immature, lazy, lacks any drive, is obsessed with women and sex enough to make me believe he's addicted. I dislike most of the choices he makes and was perpetually annoyed with him. Somehow, though, I really connected with this character. Even though he's carrying around some personality traits that are frustrating, it's understandable how he got them. His backstory is well fleshed out, his pain became my pain. As the story progressed this only became more and more intense. I felt his mistakes, missteps, losses, and failures on a personal level that kept the story moving really well.

While I didn't connect with the other characters as well they are equally fleshed out and interesting. I especially fell in love with Penny as a romantic interest for Tom, she is the extra piece he needed. That leads me to the romance in the story which I found interesting. I'm not a big fan of the romance genre normally but it felt right in this book. It didn't completely take over the story which I appreciated.

Overall, if you are a fan of time travel and want something refreshing this is perfect. Time travel is a large component but it's a story that is far more about the characters and relationships. If you aren't normally a fan of science fiction and want to go out of your comfort zone a little, this will work well.
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I didn't personally enjoy it as much as I would have liked, but I can see its value and where it might be enjoyable to others.
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All Our Wrong Todays is the first novel by Elan Mastai, and is receiving serious praise. Well deserved praise in my estimation.


Tom Barren is the one who destroyed the universe as he knew it. He went from a semi-utopian world, similar to what we had 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.


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 be begins to realize that if he fixes it, so that his timeline comes back, all the people in this timeline would never exist. From his alternative parents, the sister he has in this timeline that didn't exist in his original one. The woman he falls in love with. All of them would not only cease to exist, but their potential would never have existed. And that weighs heavily on Tom.


This existential crisis is what powers most of the book, and it does get a little repetitive. It was an interesting read, and as Mastai is a screenwriter, 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.
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All Our Wrong Todays
by Elan Mastai
February 7th 2017 by Dutton
The whole premise of the book sounded like it was going to be a great read. While the setup was very detailed I still felt compelled to continue to read. The book was very creative and I really enjoyed the characters. I have to say I put it down a number of times and picked it right back up and raced to the finish. This book makes you think about “what if”,  It is very thought provoking and I would highly recommend this unique book.
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Very fun and interesting and hard to put down. Great narrative voice, which is a Thing for me. I don't like the extremely short chapters, which just gives the whole thing a really unpleasantly choppy feel. And there were occasional sideline summaries of what you have just read that -- well, they made sense within the story, or were subsequently explained, but I couldn't help but wonder why *I* had to read them, and what function they served in this novel..... But overall, a really fun, thought-provoking book!
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Have you ever wondered if our world made a wrong turn somewhere? Sure, we have computers and smartphones and shiny video games, but what happened to the yesteryear dreams of jetpacks and space travel and flying cars? Well, now we know whom to blame: Tom Barren, the world’s worst time-traveler and the protagonist of Elan Mastai’s debut novel “All Our Wrong Todays.”

As it turns out, the most important event in human history happened on July 11th, 1965, when an eccentric scientist named Lionel Goettreider launched a device that harvested a new type of energy. The Goettreider Engine revolutionized everything, solved the energy crisis and turned the world into a utopia. Goettreider himself dies during the experiment (taking 16 fellow scientists with him), but that just helped cement his status as the new messiah of the utopian world. (The unfortunate scientists are remembered as “the 16 witnesses.”)

The story begins when our hapless protagonist, the scion of a famous physics professor, gets picked as a backup in the first ever time travel expedition. The grateful people of the futuristic 2015 want to go back in time (and space, accounting for the planetary movement) to witness the famous 1965 experiment. The end result is Tom waking up in our timeline, in our 2015, which to him seems like a dystopian nightmare. The Goettreider Engine doesn’t exist; buildings aren’t organically grown from smart materials; we use gas-guzzling cars instead of the fancy flying ones; worst of all, you have to pay other adults to pay your hair! And, on top of all that, the world he grew up in has ceased to exist, along with all his friends and relatives. Meet Tom Barren, destroyer of worlds.

As a self-proclaimed sci-fi junkie, I have to say – this book is probably the best time travel book I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. (The runner-ups are “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” by Charles Yu and “Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey” by Chuck Palahniuk.) It deconstructs just about every time travel trope out there, flirts with a few that are either brand new or downright extinct, and provides dozens of quotable zingers and assorted deep thoughts.

The 380-page story is told from a first-person perspective, and we get to know Tom Barren well: an aimless 32-year-old who grew up in the shadow of his father, never had a lasting relationship and, despite being smarter than an average bear, has a remarkable talent for ruining things. (The fact that he has to share his mind with his alternate-universe self doesn’t help.) The ongoing, unceasing mental narrative reminded me a lot of the aforementioned “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,” expect much more so.

“All Our Wrong Todays” offers something unique for fans of both hard sci-fi and human interest stories. On the one hand, the book goes into quite a lot of detail regarding the plot holes of most time travel stories. (A recurring plot point is having to track down the exact spatial coordinates – miss by 3″ and you’re done for.) On the other hand, a huge part of the plot is dealing with the impossibly large implications of wiping out an entire timeline. On top of that, there’s time travel ethics: if you change history and end up accidentally getting a new relative, would reversing the change count as murder? If you liked “Safety Not Guaranteed” (probably the best human-interest time travel movie out there), you’ll love this book because it’s just like that, but amplified tenfold.

It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel: there are plot twists you won’t see coming, turns of phrase that will stick in your mind long after you finish the book. It sets a high standard for all the other sci-fi writers, newbie or otherwise, and should be on every sci-fi fan’s bookshelf.

I give this book five out of five stars.

Full disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for an honest review – but then loved it so much that I pre-ordered a hardcover copy.
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Someone described this book as "Back to the Future" meets "Dark Matter".  It was so much more than that.  I don't even know where to begin, so I'm just going to say pick this book up and give it a chance. At times the narration annoyed me to the point that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish it, but the story carried me along and by the end I didn't want to put it down.
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Mastai's novel is a wild ride that combines science fiction with philosophy in one fast moving package. The writing is electric, with twists and turns you don't expect, as well as thoughtful musings on how the world around us shapes who we are, and we can shape the world.
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