the future

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong Todays

Thanks to Dutton and Edelweiss for the e-galley! And of course, all views in this review are 100% my own.

“Lionel Goettreider read Cat’s Cradle and had a crucial realization, what he called the “Accident” – when you invent a new technology, you also invent the accident of that technology. When you invent the car, you also invent the car accident. When you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash. When you invent nuclear fission, you also invent the nuclear meltdown.”

“But I have a theory too: The Accident doesn’t just apply to technology, it also applies to people. Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.”

You know how we look at movies like Back to the Future and kind of laugh at how back in the day, everyone thought the future 2016 was going to be crazy futuristic? Hover cars and weird clothes and food in pill form and all that? Well, it really happened! And Tom knows it really happened because that’s the 2016 he grew up in. The Goettreider Engine in 1965 gave the world free, clean energy and propelled the globe into an era of amazing technology. But even in this ridiculously amazing techno-utopia Tom is having a rough time, and then he makes it worse when he has a time travel accident and changes history, landing himself stuck in the crappy version of 2016 that we’re all used to. All he wants is to set the timeline straight and get back to the existence he knows – but at the same time, there are some aspects of his life that are definitely better in our 2016. What’s a wayward time traveler to do?

I had a blast reading All Our Wrong Todays – I flew through it in about 2 days, and it’s definitely one of those books that I had to describe in detail to my husband because I needed someone to talk to about it. It’s super interesting to see Elan Mastai’s version of this ideal world where technology has basically freed us from our daily worries – food, health care, housing, and other necessities of life are now a fact of life, available for all. In this techno-utopia we’re free to focus on the work that we truly want to do – but that doesn’t necessarily erase all of the problems in life. I loved reading about this theory of time travel and how exactly it finally works. Tom is a great narrator – at times juvenile and frustrating, but also incredibly relatable, funny, and poignant. Even when he gets in his own way, I felt myself rooting for him.

One other note – I saw some reviews on Amazon that said something about the women in Tom’s life only being there to help him achieve his goals, and I have to disagree on that. While Tom does some typical crappy guy things, the women in the book DO matter, and I think it becomes more and more apparent as the book moves on just how much those women matter to Tom. So yeah, if you see those reviews… I think one in particular didn’t actually read much of the book, and maybe just try it and see for yourself.

This book comes out on February 7th – mark your calendars so you can get your hands on it right away.


Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

Physics of the Future book cover, Michio Kaku

Well, this book has given me LOTS to talk and think about. And opened up even more scientific subjects that I want to explore.
Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, and Physics of the Future is a book of his educated guesses as to where technology and science will take us within the next 100 years. In the beginning he does mention that nobody can make 100% accurate predictions for the future, and he does list his basis for making this assumptions – that the prototypes for these technologies already exist, that he was able to interview hundreds of other scientists about their work, and that all of the science mentioned in the book is completely in line with the laws of physics and forces of nature. The biggest obstacle in a lot of these technologies coming to pass is ourselves – what we’re willing to fund, and whether we accept or reject new technology.
So, what does the future look like? Awesome. Honestly, I’ve always been the “I hope I’m long gone by the time ____ happens” type, but this book makes me actually feel really excited and hopeful for the future. The chapters are divided by subject matter and are as follows: computers, artificial intelligence, medicine, nanotechnology, energy, space travel, wealth, humanity, and finally a hypothetical look at what a day in 2100 will look like. Each ones delves into the current innovations being explored, and makes predictions for each field in the near future, mid-century, and late-century.
I can see a lot of Kaku’s other predictions coming to pass, and I LOVED learning about all of the new advances that are being made. The medicine & nanotechnology chapters was intensely interesting, and I especially loved learning about the advances being made to fight cancer with nanoparticles. (Actually I looked it up online and read this article on ABC News that the first round of human trials just completed, with a very promising outlook.) My other favorite chapter was probably the one on energy, in which he explores the technologies that scientists are experimenting with to find new, less wasteful sources of energy. Learning about the work they’re doing with fusion and the search for a room-temperature superconductor was especially exciting. Also, fans of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series: He discusses the possibility and probablity of bringing back extinct animals, such as the dodo. Who am I kidding, I found just about everything in this book fascinating.

Do I think that wall screens connected to a personalized robot are going to become the norm? No. Not because the technology won’t pan out, but because as a society I think it’s just not something we’ll accept. Our technology is getting smaller and smaller, which is why I do buy his claim that we’ll all have contact lenses or glasses that connect us to the internet. These are already in the making actually, you can watch the video on Youtube. I also don’t think that robots are going to be as widespread – maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want a robot to cook my food or do my cleaning. I trust myself to do those things more, and enjoy doing them myself. And as Michio Kaku points out himself, scientists are having trouble getting robots to do things that require common sense and complete awareness and recognition of their surroundings. Also, the pessimist in me is pretty sure that pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and doctors won’t allow some of the things he predicts for the future of medicine because they’re too greedy and would lose way too much money.

Maybe I’m just a giant nerd, but this book was SO interesting and really fun to read. I just want to talk to everybody I know about the ideas discussed in this book. And don’t worry about getting bogged down with too many technical terms – Kaku writes in pretty easy layman language, and he kept me engaged. His passion for science was obvious and brimming with hope and enthusiasm, and it was infectious. Also, the dude is in love with Star Trek. Seriously, Star Trek is his JAM, he brought it up pretty often to help explain things or illustrate his point. He did a good job at giving examples.
So, give Physics of the Future a try. You can decide for yourself which of his predictions you agree with and which you don’t. It’s fun. At the very least, you’ll be able look smart in front of your friends while reading it, right? Okay, I’m done rambling now. Someone just please read this book now so I have someone to discuss it with, hmmm? I mean look, it made me go crazy with the bold font. That’s real excitement there.
Sarah Says: 4 stars