The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 Stars bumped to 4 stars because all the scientists are women and I loved that about this book.
So here's the problem with genre fiction: when you assign a genre, the reader is led to have certain expectations. The danger of those expectations is when they are not met. This is the case of a perfectly well-written novel like this one. Having been told the novel is science fiction, one has certain expectations about the science-y part. This book doesn't have time slip time travel which allows for more general fiction application as in The Time Traveller's Wife. It's a purportedly a science fiction novel in which four women scientists build a time machine. But then a murder mystery ensues and that mystery dominates the entire plot leaving some of the science-y aspects a bit sketchy. The time travel element becomes background for the challenging relationship between four collaborators after one mysteriously has a breakdown in the middle of an interview about their marvelous time machine, thereby embarrassing another and setting into motion a series of events (can we ever stop the past or present or future?). The relationship between the four scientists is interesting, and obviously I'm going to have much personal love for a book in which all the scientists are women. But as a novel of science fiction, this book just didn't work for me somehow. It works as a murder mystery in which we have four women with their own ideas about how the future of their work should be and their deeply held beliefs about research, all of which culminates in a mysterious death. Cutting back and forth between the 1960's, 70's, 80's and 2010's, and with characters going forward all the way to the 24th century living in our present/their deep past, we see a slowly evolving mis en place where we think we know who murdered whom (was it a murder?) but strive to understand the how and why. The novel is cleverly plotted but some vital element as sci-fi was just missing for me. Still a read worth your time. I will definitely pick up Mascarenhas' next novel.
I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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