The Future Of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
Publication: September 24th by Tor Books
(3.5 out of 5)
Annalee Newitz combines feminism, punk rock, time travel, history, alternative history, and the small and large ways that a human being can affect others’ lives into a heady yet accessible brew. Newitz’s mind-rattling second novel (after Autonomous) is a multilayered tale of “editing” history, doing the right thing, and the ripple effect.
I love original time travel mechanics. IMO, one of the things that can make or break a time travel plot is the method of time travel presented, and this was an element that I really enjoyed in The Future of Another Timeline: time travel is geology-based, and centers around specific rock formations in several locations around the world. We’re never sure whether the rock formations are a natural occurrence or whether they’re a remnant of a past advanced or alien civilization, but we know that one travels through time by tapping out specific patterns into the rock, and that humanity has barely scratched the surface of what the machines are truly capable of, and that explanation/non-explanation worked for me, because it felt unique, somewhat organic, and added a persistent oddness and potential for twists in the story.
This book has several characters that you follow. Tess is a time traveler from 2022. She travels to the early 1990s to help edit her own timeline. She works with a group of women known as the Daughters of Harriet, and their goal is to prevent the eroding of women’s rights through time travel interference. Check this, She also travels to the late 1890s to stop John Comstock (a real historical person). Beth is a teenage girl living in 1992, and very much not a time traveler. Not yet, at any rate. She lives for grrrl punk rock music. It’s the escape her life is desperately in need of…because every other element in her life feels like it’s out of her control.
The Future of Another Timeline has some heavier subjects; all thrown into the light during Tess’ attempt to make the world a better place. Some subjects covered or mentioned within these pages include rape, abuse, misogyny, transphobia, sexism, and antisemitism. Some of these subjects delve into further detail than others (for example, sexism is a prevalent theme, while antisemitism merely comes up a time or two.)
The Future of Another Timeline brings together the tones of The Handmaid’s Tale into a time-traveling focus into a timely read. A fantastic and fast-paced one of a kind novel. It offers lots of accurate historical context, a perfect amount of 1990s punk, realistic, deep characters, well-researched history, an interesting time travel mechanic, and fascinating timeline-manipulation theory. I’ve never read a novel like this. It is a one of a kind original. Come for the whiz-bang, stay for the thoughts on women’s rights and gender theory.
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