Hello Humans! In my quest to find a time-travel book that does not suck I have encountered many terrible terrible books – but today I’m bringing you a review for one of the good ones!
From Annalee Newitz, founding editor of io9, comes a story of time travel, murder, and the lengths we’ll go to protect the ones we love.
1992: After a confrontation at a riot grrl concert, seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend’s abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. This murder sets Beth and her friends on a path of escalating violence and vengeance as they realize many other young women in the world need protecting too.
2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But rewriting the timeline isn’t as simple as editing one person or event. And just when Tess believes she’s found a way to make an edit that actually sticks, she encounters a group of dangerous travelers bent on stopping her at any cost.
Tess and Beth’s lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline–a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future. Against the vast and intricate forces of history and humanity, is it possible for a single person’s actions to echo throughout the timeline?
Content warnings: Violence against women, sexism, abortion, child abuse (reported – on page).
As you can tell from the summary and those content warnings – this book is not a happy silly time travel story. If you’re looking for that kind of a story maybe look elsewhere and come back to this one when you’re feeling quite resilient. But I think there is a place for and a value to somewhat bleak and troubling science fiction and I personally felt like this book balanced out the despair with a good few moments of joy and a general sense of hope.
I am the most easily confused soul that there is and the fact that I managed to wrap my head around the various timelines and story elements is a testament to how well this book is structured. I appreciated that this book explored both the global and personal potential of time travel and how it might be used. It helped to keep a book that was, in a way, about all women and non-binary individuals everywhere and in all times, grounded in the story of just a few characters.
I also appreciated that this story didn’t get bogged down in the science, it didn’t spend pages talking about paradoxes and so forth. I do think there are books that do the science side well, but I appreciated that Newitz was writing a world and a culture in which time travel is accepted, the science has been worked out (for the most part) so the narrator doesn’t feel the need to explain the minutiae to the reader. Basically, it felt similar to how I respond to how planes stay in the air, I’m sure someone could explain it to me, and I have faith that someone understands how it works but I just don’t need to know the specifics of it right now.
The ‘hook’ on which this plot is fixed is the issue of the legality of abortion, which might be difficult reading for some, but I thought it was an interesting way of measuring women’s rights across time and seeing success. While these characters are really fighting for all rights for all women (and non-binary individuals) the story is hinged around abortion – I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting at here, I suppose it’s once more the grounding of very broad concepts and ideas into a smaller, more manageable idea.
I liked the characters in this story, I thought Tess was a very interesting character and she managed to balance the idea of a ‘mysterious backstory’ very well to the point where I was intrigued but not annoyed at the various hints. Beth too, was interesting, though her story is perhaps the hardest and most emotionally challenging to read. I also thought that the many side characters encountered throughout the story and throughout time were fabulous and built this into more than a simple time travel sci-fi novel. Essentially I want to be a time-travelling feminist and now I’m going to have to switch career paths.
This book is bleak, which I think might put off some readers, but I think it manages to keep things balanced and you’re left with a lot of food for thought without necessarily feeling like you’ve been beaten over the head with lofty concepts. The more I think about it, the more I enjoyed this book.
The only thing I would request is that the publisher include content warnings in any future reprints.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
The Future of Another Timeline is available now!
What say you? Will you be picking this up? Let me know in the comments below!