All Our Wrong Todays

What if our reality is the darkest timeline?

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

What if our reality is the darkest timeline?

My Reading Room

All Our Wrong Todays takes a classic time travel trope – resetting the timeline – and turns it into an engaging, light-hearted sci-fiadventure that asks: what if our reality is the darkest timeline?

Screenwriter Elan Mastai’s debut novel, All Our Wrong Todays, is the memoir of Tom Barren. Barren is a frustrated underachiever living in an alternative version of our world. Thanks to the invention of a machine in 1965 that generates unlimited clean energy, everything in Tom’s world is better. It is the techno-utopian future people in the 1950s always dreamed of, complete with flying cars, robot maids, and vacations in space.

Tom’s brilliant father invents time travel and through a series of unlikely events, Tom ends up becoming the first “chrononaut.” He travels back in time, arriving at the exact time and place where the clean energy machine is first invented. But his actions in the past end up disrupting the timeline. When Tom returns to the future, he finds himself not in his world, but in ours, which in comparison looks like hell.

Mastai’s work as a screenwriter shows, with plenty of twists and a breakneck pace that makes this book hard to put down. Unlike a lot of science fiction, Mastai’s writing is easily approachable, and he uses a breezy first person conversational style throughout. So you never get bogged down by technical jargon, even when he discusses the more interesting theoretical problems associated with time travel (such as the Earth’s movement in space).

All Our Wrong Todays is a refreshing break from the dark, dystopian tone popular in science fiction today. It’s more of a throwback to fun adventures like Back to the Future. While it’s still primarily a story about time travel, it also explores family, relationships, and romance, and the end result is a thought-provoking book with more heart than you might first expect.