Sunday, October 13, 2019

Review: The Psychology of Time Travel

Time travel? 

Women scientists? 

Animals not harmed in the making of the book? 

The description of "the perfect book for Chris" should have been a fabulous read. Instead, Kate Mascarenhas' The Psychology of Time Travel was surprisingly dull, with undeveloped characters and confusing storylines.

First of all, there was no sense of time or place. Four women discover time travel in 1967. They could have discovered it at a farmhouse in Idaho or the French countryside for all the attention the setting received. In 1967, women had no standing in the world of science — and yet these women are not only embraced by the scientific community, but also have the power to privatize time travel to their financial benefit.

This book introduced new time-travel rules; after Avengers: Endgame, I am almost numb to the tangled ideas and brutal liberties people take with this fictional practice. It's like sparkly vampires: if you write the fiction, you invent a world in which you can hang out with yourself, or multiple versions of yourself (or do whatever with yourselves, and Mascarenhas describes plenty of whatever). There is no sense of excitement or discovery.

Readers learn a lot about the Conclave, the proprietary corporation/society created by Margaret, to benefit her world order. There are strange rules, weird law enforcement, and a most unique monetary system. That's all well and good, but what did time travel do?  It was never clear to me.

Only a few characters were memorable — and with multiple versions of time-travelers interacting with each other, it was easy to get overwhelmed. When it wasn't confusing, much of the interaction was dull. It's a workplace with strange rules.

There wasn't a "main" story. The author tried to weave a couple of stories together, but the connections are almost desperate. Odette was traumatized by a murder scene she encounters at the toy museum where she works, and decides that working as an investigator for the Conclave would give her closure. Bee dies, and her granddaughter Ruby finds out how and why from her lover Grace.

Time travel is becoming the storyline du jour, and not everyone follows the rules, or even the new rules they set up. I'm a huge fan of time travel, but after this book, I'm ready to take a break. What a shame.

Did I miss something about this book that you think makes it a great read? I'd love to know, and we can discuss: leave a comment below, or send me an email.

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