The Psychology of Time Travel
by Kate Mascarenhas
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
Length: 336 Pages
Release date: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
1967: Four young female scientists invent a time travel machine in their remote lab in Cumbria. They become known as the pioneers: the women who led the world to a future where no knowledge is unattainable.
2016: Ruby Rebello knows that her beloved grandmother was one of the pioneers, but she refuses to talk about her past. Ruby’s curiosity soon turns to fear however, when a newspaper clipping from four months in the future arrives in the post. The clipping reports the brutal murder of an unnamed elderly lady.
Could the woman be her Granny Bee?
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the review copy. All opinions are my own and not influenced by the publisher.
Mascarenhas’ debut novel is so delightfully fun! Reading the blurb, you’d expect the mystery to be the main thrust of this novel, and while it is certainly a major focal point, there’s so much else going on that the mystery ends up feeling like a bonus. The novel has several POV characters in several different timelines, but Mascarenhas has made it fairly easy for the reader to keep the various characters straight.
The story begins with Ruby’s “Granny Bee,” or Barbara, in the 1960’s as she and her colleagues are putting the finishing touches on their newly developed time travel technology. Barbara suffers a mental health crisis which seemed to have been triggered by time travel, and she is ousted from the group to prevent bad PR. If the public at large gets wind of a link between mental illness and time travel this early in the game, their careers will be over before they’ve truly begun. Barbara’s contributions are swept under the rug and her colleagues rush onward to fame and fortune without her.
Fast forward to modern day, and the Conclave founded by Granny Bee’s former friends now operates on its own terms, outside the laws of the land. The logic for this is that laws change over the years and that a time travel organization necessarily needs a constant set of a rules. Sound logic, perhaps, but an organization policing itself is dicey at best. The Psychology of Time Travel is as much about the corrupt politics of the Conclave and the twisted mindsets of long-term time travelers as it is about the mystery.
Mascarenhas asks what death would mean to a seasoned time traveler and explores that in this novel. If your father dies, but you can hop into a time machine and go on visiting him anyway, does he seem dead to you? Why should he seem any more or less alive than any other person if you can travel hundreds of years into the future and then pop back to 1973 later on that day? What happens to you when the only death that truly feels final is your own? And what happens if you already know the date and circumstances of that death?
The Psychology of Time Travel is a science fiction story wrapped in a thought experiment and tied together with a murder mystery. It features multiple female scientists as prominent characters and gives great attention to diversity. The world building is phenomenal and the story is infinitely engaging. I look forward to seeing what Mascarenhas writes next!
About the Author
Kate Mascarenhas is a writer.
Born in 1980, she is of mixed heritage (white Irish father, brown British mother) and has family in Ireland and the Republic of Seychelles.
She studied English at Oxford and Applied Psychology at Derby. Her PhD, in literary studies and psychology, was completed at Worcester.
Since 2017 Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Previously she has been an advertising copywriter, bookbinder, and doll’s house maker. She lives in the English midlands with her partner.