I've recently read a great sci-fi book titled "All Our Wrong Todays". It's a tale of the mind-wrenching problems involved with attempting time travel.
Those problems include a nasty new take on what happens to the person who causes the paradoxical changes that obliterate the world that allowed him to travel in time. In a word: merger. Which gets damn nasty when one of the merged personalities has ruined the resulting world.
Written as a non-fiction memoir by the accidental protagonist, it's peppered with hard science and surprisingly plot-relevant sex, and contains please from the author for understanding - a neat trick that conveys the desperate guilt of the time traveler after he's learned what he's done. It's an engaging read, I blasted through it during August, unable to set it aside - the first time I've managed to do so with my old favorite genre in more than five years.
It's been a couple of weeks since I read it, and I'm left with a couple of lasting impressions. First, the author knows relationships. The fuckup of a main character may have been bleached of actual character, but he certainly was rich in relationships that formed him and his path in life. I was envious! For a book that obsesses with (and daring to start with a treatise on how the mechanics of time travel would work, there's a lot of meaningful human relationship woven through this tale.
Secondly, I came away with a certain bittersweet realization about this world we inhabit. We may have missed the mark on the future promised by decades of sci-fi, but we've stayed out of dystopia of sci-fi's darkest visions (exposed to the time traveler) and we've got a great deal to hang onto in this world. Like books that can tread new ground in time travel! I think it was the author's intent to suggest that with all our many problems, we're keeping our edge. And with all we've got going for us, we're not yet stomping on each other's necks with boots prized from last week's corpse.
I was handed this book while we were browsing in Toronto's venerable Bakka books (a name that accurately describes the guys who staff it). My son recognized the title because the father of a classmate had come in to talk about it. That father is the author, and he lives in our immediate neighborhood. I bought it without knowing anything about it, and I'm damn glad that I did. But don't take my word for it, you can take the word of The Washington Post.
And now, since I used the term keeping our edge: