7 Science Fiction Books to Live By

All Our Wrong Todays author Elan Mastai on his favorite novels that use sci-fi in brilliant ways.

Growing up, my grandfather had an extensive collection of vintage ‘50s and ‘60s science fiction and, as a kid, I loved reading the strange and vivid stories I’d find behind the garishly painted covers. Nowadays, I bounce around reading novels of any and all genres, but I’ll always have a soft spot for science fiction. When an author chooses to escape the orbital gravity of strict realism and venture into arenas of possibility and prediction, they often find daring and unexpected ways to illuminate our essential humanity. Many of these books wouldn’t necessarily be filed in the sci-fi section of your local bookstore, but they deftly use science fiction concepts to offer bracingly unique insights and observations about who we are, how we live, and where we’re going.

Elan Mastai’s debut novel, All Our Wrong Todays, also dabbles in the sci-fi world. You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed…because it wasn’t necessary.

Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.

But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

Featured image: Bruce Rolff/Shutterstock.com; Author Photo: © David Leyes

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About Elan Mastai

elan mastai

ELAN MASTAI was born in Vancouver and lives in Toronto with his wife and children. He is an award-winning screenwriter. This is his first novel.

  • J Galt

    Never Let Me Go may be the worst book I’ve ever read. So bad, so bad . . .

  • rebecca montano

    I listened to Never Let Me Go on audio. Beautifully done but man! I figured out the “twist” pretty quickly and kept waiting for more on that. I think the “donation” part of the story was the real story. I felt like this novel was good fan fic for the “real” story. I couldn’t believe the author chose not to explore that aspect. Disappointed. Also, geez, English emotional repression much?

  • ReaderV

    I can understand how Elan Masti feels. Reading through collections built by our prior generation is a window into their younger years. My Mother and her sisters would walk to the corner store and buy comic books between 1926- 1958. Reading through those amazing comic books was “awesome” to my young self. I could watch the different eras go by. The WWll comics with their evil Germans plotting world distruction until Superman saved the day were powerful to a 11year old.
    What reading treasured are lingering for you to discover? Time to visit your grandparents bookshelves.

  • Brittany

    Station Eleven is one of my favorite books, but I have never felt comfortable with the Sci-Fi label. I think that label is too niche for the book, and it has a broader appeal than the typical sci-fi read.

    • fyrebirdrises

      I think it is important to keep the Science Fiction label for books like Station Eleven (which I loved) for that reason– it isn’t the only book in that genre that goes beyond what most people think of as Sci Fi, and maybe this will open minds to exploring more of what that umbrella can include.

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