Tom Barren, the lover-not-a-fighter, time-travelling, hesitant hero, of screenwriter Elan Matsai’s debut novel All Our Wrong Todays, comes from the future Baby Boomers were promised. That George Jetson beauty of a place with jetpacks and flying cars and voyages to the moon. Yet through a comedy of errors that are eloquently and self-effacingly pointed out all in the first person, Tom reluctantly becomes a chrononaut – a time-traveler, right? – and changes the time stream. Before you can say, “Great Scott, Doc Brown!” 2016 changes… to our present day of smartphones, Uber, Facebook, and political anxiety.
Followers of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books will find this set up familiar – alternate timelines, parallel universes and the chronal butterfly effect – but Matsai cleverly digs into the “Space” element of the Time-Space Continuum and provides in Tom Barren an everyday hero who is more Marty McFly than Doctor Who. Tom is neither doctor nor scientist, but he is funny and normal, easily capturing the reader’s attention and interest. Matasi, through Tom, paints a delicious alternate world based on the 1950s pulp novels and comics, and equally points out the strangeness in how our present day world would appear to an outsider. He also questions what home is while proving the value in having such a place.
Matsai’s writing is smooth and approachable with a unique voice combining humor, love, and the overarching desire in striving to do what is right, all wrapped around a highly-enjoyable, time-hopping tale that many would find as the ultimate in escapist fantasies.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the Penguin Group for the chance to read this extremely enjoyable novel well before publication. I am honored to have received this advance copy and look forward to passing on my recommendation of this read.