The Future of Another Timeline begins with three quotes. One is attributed to Senator Harriet Tubman, R-MS, in 1893. If your immediate reaction is to understand why this is inaccurate, but sincerely wish that Harriet Tubman had attained the rank of Senator, this novel is for you.
Annalee Newitz combines feminism, punk rock, time travel, history, alternative history, and the small and large ways that a human being can affect others' lives into a heady yet accessible brew. While other women and non-binary people are very much involved, the novel focuses on Beth, a teenage Riot Grrrl punk living in an abusive household in the early 1990s, and Tess, a scientist and time traveler. Time travel is possible in this world through The Machines, which are scattered throughout the world, and always has been. However, it is only accessible to people who have sufficient money and/or education and are willing to put in years of hard work.
Essentially, Tess and the feminist Daughters of Harriet are at war with the Comstockers, bitter misogynist disciples of Anthony Comstock. American History students will remember Comstock as an anti-obscenity crusader in the late 1800s who hated women, sexuality, fun, and most especially women who controlled their own sexuality and had fun. Time travelers are able to "edit" timelines, including "editing" people out through violence or other means. The Comstockers want to edit out influential women and advances in womens' rights, then render it impossible for anyone else to make a change.
The characters of Beth and Tess contrast micro and macro effects of time travel and women's rights. Annalee Newitz knows her history, and there is an appendix in which she explains historical references in her novel. Newitz manages to keep several balls and a couple chainsaws flying in the air, and to make it all make sense to the reader.
The Future of Another Timeline will not be for everyone. Some people will be confused. Some will be offended, or quite simply pissed off. But for others, this novel will be an absolute delight. I am a Generation X feminist who grew up with Riot Grrrls. I always chose female historical figures for my reports because my teachers always harped on men and wars (and Harriet Tubman was a recurring favorite). I adore alternative histories. I for one could not have loved this novel more if there had been a crisp new $100 bill tucked in between every chapter.
Many thanks to BookishFirst.com for providing an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.