The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz // Book Review

I went into this one with high hopes. Time travel where women go into the past and make changes that benefit all women of the future, men who can’t stand that their privileges of owning and manipulating women want to go back and “set things straight” plus tons of representation that feels natural and not put on in anyway? Sign me the eff up.

And while I did get all the things I mentioned above, the book didn’t really work out as well as I was hoping. It became complicated and sometimes convoluted creating a middling experience than one that you can cheer about.

The story is a little complicated to explain, so I’ll try my best to do that here. Let’s first start off with the time travel.

In The Future of Another Timeline, time travel has existed for as long as the world has been in existence. They are several machines located in various parts of the world in these weird rock formations. Apparently these rock formations are the gateway to wormholes that let you travel solo to the past.

Tess is a cultural geologist working at UCLA to teach about time travel and how it works. In her little group called the Daughters of Harriet (Tubman), they are working to travel back in time and edit events to encourage more women’s rights. However, an all-male group is working to reverse that giving men rights over women. But Tess’s group has other plans to head all the way back to when the time machines were first discovered (before recorded time) and stop this group of men from ruining the future of women forever.

Meanwhile, Tess is also struggling with some personal moments of her own past. And while she’s working to improve women’s rights and stop this radical men’s group, she’s also editing her own timeline for the sake of an old friend.

First off, let’s talk about the time travel bit. While I get that time travel existed forever and these two groups are working to edit the timeline, I felt like this wasn’t fleshed out as well as I wanted it to be. When it comes to time travel stories, you need to be super clear on how it works. If you think about any time travel story, there’s always a moment where the narrator or MC explains how time travel works, how it affects the future, butterfly effects, paradoxes, etc.

These are things you always consider when it comes to time travel and to be honest, I feel like Annalee Newitz didn’t really explain this well. I was muddling through my own personal understanding of time travel through the other stories I’ve read in the past and what I’ve seen on TV, but you really need to be clear on how this works otherwise you’re going to have audience members be so confused by what’s going on.

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And I feel like they were trying to explain how time travel worked in this world through complicated theory that even one of the characters couldn’t understand. If the character is having a hard time understanding time travel in their own world, then the reader isn’t going to be confused as well. It wasn’t so hard that you’re scratching your head and just turned off by it, but it was enough to kind of spoil the experience as a reader. If that makes sense.

Secondly, I was confused by Beth’s story. I mean, for the most part I was rooting for Beth and I wanted her to have the best and I wanted her future to be as bright as any other character you develop emotions for. However, the ending of her story really confused me and then its incorporation into the rest of the story really didn’t make sense. For all intents and purposes, I can kind of see where Annalee Newitz was going with it, but the more I think about it, the more I kept on trying to understand why.

Overall, there was a lot of potential here for an amazing pro-fem story, but I feel like the logistics and minor details got in the way of that for me. I did love their writing style and kind of want to try out something else from Annalee Newitz in the future. I thought that there was a lot of creativity in this story and really breathes into the real world issues that we’re facing everyday. I loved the representation and how there were all the faces of women nowadays there amongst the pages. I just wish the sci-fi portions were a little more built out and I wanted to understand the characters and their existence in this world a little bit more.

I received a copy of this book from a friend for free and writing this review on my own accord.

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