Quick Review: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel 📚

Finished reading: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel 📚


This is a suggestion for anyone who wants to write anything with time travel: don’t.

Time travel is always a disgusting mess. There are probably five good time travel fiction products. Everything else is an incoherent mess full of plot holes, logical contradictions, and nonsensical story progression.

The more your work tries to be “serious,” the more time travel looks ridiculous.

This book makes no exception. The time travel aspect is a total joke.

Apparently, this book won Goodreads’s best SciFi of 2022. So, 2022 must have been a truly horrible year for SciFi.

But I want to write about time travel!

Fine. There is only one approach to time travel that doesn’t instantly make me barf: the one compatible with the Block Universe. In that case, there is no “we need to protect the timeline” nonsense because everything exists at the same time (it is bloody confusing to use the language of our limited linear-time brain to discuss eternalism). So, when a character goes back in time, they cannot mess up the “present” because the present already discounts the fact that the character went to the past and did what they did.

Why can I tolerate this? Because our universe works (mostly) this way. It is a consequence of Einstein’s Special Relativity.

(In theory, to avoid every time paradox, a Time Machine should be able to go back only to the time it was created. But I can pass on this one.)

Time Travel is complicated, and it almost never makes a story better.

So, please, just don’t.

Davide Aversa @thek3nger