The Psychology of Time Travel attracted my eye the first time I heard about it. I’m just glad I found a copy of it in the library. It contributes to my SpaceTime Reading Challenge, of course, as well as my Alphabet Soup.

The Psychology of Time Travel

by Kate Mascarenhas

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history.

Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

Traversing the decades and told from alternating perspectives, The Psychology of Time Travel introduces a fabulous new voice in fiction and a new must-read for fans of speculative fiction and women’s fiction alike. (goodreads)

My Review

It’s the perfect title. The Psychology of Time Travel is heavily invested in psychology: of time travellers, of what is needed for time travellers to survive in any sort of society, and the psychological profiles of the pioneers. In that phrase in the blurb ‘traversing the decades and told from alternating perspectives’ you need to expect a mind-boggling leaping about of points of view, characters, time-lines, and future knowledge of present events.

In some ways I was reminded of the excellent Rose Code I reviewed this time last year. Unlike the Rose Code, it does not brim with lively banter from the women involved–or the men–and the points of view are still third person omniscient (or so it feels). The lack of involvement with most of the characters makes the narrative very dry, and I had more than my usual difficulty in distinguishing between several of the characters. There had to be specific clues each time to remind you who was who–Odette’s Seychelles heritage, Ruby’s surname. In fact, it read like a psychology book, with no humanity among its subjects. I even checked the publication date to see if it was older than I’d thought. No, published in 2018.

superb science

But the science, both social and hard science, were superb. The setting of the initial project, through its secret service banner with government funding, to its alternative society for time travellers. All brilliant. Totally believable. World-building at its very best, almost like a piece of scenario building that has got out of hand and turned into multiple, interlocking case studies.

But… a third of the way in, I became bored, and started to skip bits. Then larger bits. Until I came back to several chapters of denouement (in different time threads) at the end. The convoluted plots turned out to have quite simple outcomes (which is a sign of the best mysteries, I think). But I noticed something odd. The library book I was reading became stiffer as I left the point where I’d decided to skim. I reckon many people have come to the same conclusion about one third in: it’s brilliant, but it’s not good reading.

One to try before you buy, I think. Jump into the middle and see what you think– don’t judge it on the first chapters, the 1967 ones.

Book Review | The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas – 'brilliant. Totally believable. World-building at its very best' #PsychologyofTimeTravel Click To Tweet
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Book Review | The Psychology of Time Travel

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