Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

So, time travel. What’s fun about a good time travel story is how intricate it has to be. Seeds are planted throughout, and if it’s done well, you don’t realize it until the end. (This happens a little bit in Harry Potter, with the time turner.) This book certainly has that pleasure. It also has the pleasure of making no attempt to explain itself. (How does time travel work? Who cares?) It exists in an entirely recognizable future that doesn’t bother to try to add all kinds of futuristic things. It stays mostly focused on the human, without too much detail about what’s different then. (And really, isn’t the point, when you bring time travel into it, that humans are humans whenever they live?)

Interesting choice that one of the storylines is taken from her last book, The Glass Hotel. I’m not sure what that’s doing here, or at least what Morella is doing here (Vincent makes enough sense, I suppose). And then we get a character whose third novel, about a pandemic, is her first success, and she markets it during a real pandemic (where have we seen that before?) Overall it was enjoyable, but I got the feeling that it was more a talented writer kind of messing around than any aspiration to be a masterwork.

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