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All Our Wrong Todays
Cover of All Our Wrong Todays
All Our Wrong Todays
A Novel
There's no such thing as the life you're "supposed" to have.
You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary.
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career and—maybe, just maybe—his soulmate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom's search for the answer takes him across countries, continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
All Our Wrong Todays is about the versions of ourselves that we shed and grow into over time. It is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms. Filled with humor and heart, and saturated with insight and intelligence and a mind-bending talent for invention, this novel signals the arrival of a major talent.
There's no such thing as the life you're "supposed" to have.
You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary.
Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.
But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career and—maybe, just maybe—his soulmate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom's search for the answer takes him across countries, continents and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.
All Our Wrong Todays is about the versions of ourselves that we shed and grow into over time. It is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms. Filled with humor and heart, and saturated with insight and intelligence and a mind-bending talent for invention, this novel signals the arrival of a major talent.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book 1

    So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

    That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have. But it never should've turned out like this. And it's all my fault-well, me and to a lesser extent my father and, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

    It's hard to know how to start telling this story. But, okay, you know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Flying cars, robot maids, food pills, teleportation, jet packs, moving sidewalks, ray guns, hover boards, space vacations, and moon bases. All that dazzling, transformative technology our grandparents were certain was right around the corner. The stuff of world's fairs and pulp science-fiction magazines with titles like Fantastic Future Tales and The Amazing World of Tomorrow. Can you picture it?

    Well, it happened.

    It all happened, more or less exactly as envisioned. I'm not talking about the future. I'm talking about the present. Today, in the year 2016, humanity lives in a techno-utopian paradise of abundance, purpose, and wonder.

    Except we don't. Of course we don't. We live in a world where, sure, there are iPhones and 3D printers and, I don't know, drone strikes or whatever. But it hardly looks like The Jetsons. Except it should. And it did. Until it didn't. But it would have, if I hadn't done what I did. Or, no, hold on, what I will have done.

    I'm sorry, despite receiving the best education available to a citizen of the World of Tomorrow, the grammar of this situation is a bit complicated.

    Maybe the first person is the wrong way to tell this story. Maybe if I take refuge in the third person I'll find some sort of distance or insight or at least peace of mind. It's worth a try.

    2

    Tom Barren wakes up into his own dream.

    Every night, neural scanners map his dreams while he sleeps so that both his conscious and unconscious thought patterns can be effectively modeled. Every morning, the neural scanners transmit the current dream-state data into a program that generates a real-time virtual projection into which he seamlessly rouses. The dream's scattershot plot is made increasingly linear and lucid until a psychologically pleasing resolution is achieved at the moment of full consciousness . . .

    I'm sorry-I can't write like this. It's fake. It's safe.

    The third person is comforting because it's in control, which feels really nice when relating events that were often so out of control. It's like a scientist describing a biological sample seen through a microscope. But I'm not the microscope. I'm the thing on the slide. And I'm not writing this to make myself comfortable. If I wanted comfort, I'd write fiction.

    In fiction, you cohere all these evocative, telling details into a portrait of the world. But in everyday life, you hardly notice any of the little things. You can't. Your brain swoops past it all, especially when it's your own home, a place that feels barely separate from the inside of your mind or the outside of your body.

    When you wake up from a real dream into a virtual one, it's like you're on a raft darting this way and that according to the blurry, impenetrable currents of your unconscious, until you find yourself gliding onto a wide, calm, shallow lake, and the slippery, fraught weirdness dissolves into serene, reassuring clarity. The story wraps up the way it feels like it must, and no matter how unsettling the content, you wake with the rejuvenating solidity of order restored. And that's when you realize you're lying in bed, ready to start the day, with none of that sticky subconscious gristle caught in the cramped folds of your...
About the Author-
  • ELAN MASTAI was born in Vancouver and lives in Toronto with his wife and children. He writes movies. All Our Wrong Todays is his first novel. The author lives in Toronto, ON.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 14, 2016
    In Mastai’s imaginative debut novel, Tom Barren’s version of 2016 is a technological utopia based on a model popularized by 1950s science fiction. There are flying cars, robot maids, jet packs, teleportation, ray guns, and space vacations. Thanks to an experimental time machine, Tom travels back to the moment this glorious future was born—the 1965 invention of the Goettreider Engine, a clean-energy source that transformed mankind. Unfortunately, Tom’s presence causes the experiment to go haywire. He disappears, and when he rematerializes he is in an alternate timeline, socially and technologically backward—in other words, our own 2016. Horrified at what he sees, Tom tries to come to terms with his new environment, which is only made bearable by a bookstore owner named Penny, with whom he promptly falls in love. In order to prove to her where he is really from, Tom is forced to track down the scientist who invented the clean-energy device. From here, the story takes several startling turns as Tom tries to make things right by using another time machine to change the future of this timeline. Mastai has fun with all the usual conventions of time travel and its many paradoxes, and the cherry on top is his dialogue, reminiscent of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House.

  • Jonathan Tropper, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Where I Leave You "A novel about time travel has no right to be this engaging. A novel this engaging has no right to be this smart. And a novel this smart has no right to be this funny. Or insightful. Or immersive. Basically, this novel has no right to exist."
  • Andy Weir, New York Times bestselling author of The Martian "A thrilling tale of time travel and alternate timelines with a refreshingly optimistic view of humanity's future."
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    Doubleday Canada
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All Our Wrong Todays
A Novel
Elan Mastai
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