We say that history is written by the victors, but what if history was physically rewritten by the victors? In The Future of Another Timeline, time travel is real and changes in the past create divergent futures. While many use the machines for scientific research, the Daughters of Harriet are locked in a secret edit war with what we would call "men's rights activists," bent on creating a world where women have no control over their own bodies. These men are inspires and in league with Anthony Comstock, a real historical figure who was able to get information on birth control and abortion declared obscene, and therefore illegal. When the novel opens, Tess has traveled from 2022 to 1992, to observe and intervene at a punk rock concert where the Comstockers are likely to appear. Living in the present of 1992 is Beth, a teen riot grrl with difficult family issues. Narration alternates between Tess and Beth, dancing across timelines and history, from the 90s to the Chicago World's Fair, to prehistoric eras, and many places in between. Can Tess and her colleagues make the right changes so that all women have the right to make choices?
This is a very compelling, slightly frightening book, and a call to action on women's reproductive rights. I appreciate that Newitz makes some attempt at explaining the mechanism of time travel without getting bogged down in the details. Leaving the "how" of time travel as a subject of current scientific research seemed like an absolutely logical answer to me, and consistent with the state of real world science. What drives this novel is the relationships between women, and their desire for autonomy. I have a hard time picking just one relationship to highlight, or one great moment that won't spoil the story for everyone else.
I highly recommend this book for science fiction fans, feminists, political activists, and to the public at large. Personally I wouldn't recommend it to a teen because of some of the language or occasionally graphic imagery, but I also feel that way about Game of Thrones, which is more graphic than this work.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via BookishFirst for an honest review.