2016 wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Tom knows. He’s from the way the future is supposed to be: a techno-utopia free of want and war, where all material needs are provided for and the only industry left is entertainment. However, his life kind of stinks. His mother is dead and his father is a jerk, and Tom himself is a hopeless schmuck. It’s down to his really, really stupid decision to go back to the past that history changed, the technology never materialized, and the world is what we’re used to.
And wouldn’t you know: Tom’s life in the wrong 2016 is awesome. Much better than what he left behind. Swiftly his dilemma becomes whether his wonderful family and life are worth the countless billions who were erased and the society that never was.
Like the best science fiction, All Our Wrong Todays has plenty of social commentary and ethical questions. But it’s such a refreshing change from dystopian fiction. Particularly since, in this book, the reality that we know is the dystopia. We have to kill plants and animals for food. There’s pollution everywhere and we just keep making more. Every technology we invent seems to do more harm than good, despite our best efforts. Tom is shocked when he sees the conditions of our 2016. Even though his world had problems, they were not on so grand a scale.
Tom is a great narrator, a totally directionless screw-up who seems incapable of changing. Endlessly self-involved and self-deprecating, Tom’s emotional and personal arc over the course of the story is a rewarding one. He finds himself cast in the role of hero by the end of the story, commenting on the fact that he suddenly has a purpose and a duty. Besides, he’s pretty funny, so that helps the narrative along.
I also really appreciated the optimistic ending. The future (and the present) is what we make it. It can be whatever we choose. We should make sure we choose well.
All Our Wrong Todays is funny and smart, action-packed and cinematic. It’s also a slightly mind-bending romp through alternate realities and the fabric of time and space.
The Martian by Andy Weir would be a great readalike for this, as would Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. If you like the humor and cinematic writing style, you could try The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn. You could also try The Man In the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell, about a selfish time-traveler who has to solve his own murder.