One of my favorite mental posers to think about is where and when I might go if I had a time machine. My answer always changes, partly based on how recently I’ve read something about witchcraft trials (which rule out a lot of history for me) or medical history (which rules out a lot the rest). At the risk of being hyperbolic, I would never in a million years think up what the narrator of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s lightning-fast novella, One Day All This Will Be Yours. The narrator has chosen to use his time-traveling equipment to set up shop at the end of time and destroy any other time travelers he can find.
Our narrator is a veteran of the last war humanity will ever fight. At least, that’s what he’s trying to be. In the last war, humans not only invented time travel (used to try and thwart the other side before they could make a move) but also bombs that are capable of shattering causality itself. He tells us his story, his deep dissatisfaction at seeing history come apart around him. As soon as people start messing around with the time stream, history gets overwritten. The other side—and the side the narrator is presumably on—sometimes disappear from one moment to the next. It’s hard to stay loyal when the faces keep changing and the reasons keep shifting. So, there he is, at the end of time, with his pet allosaur and a bunch of farming robots, waiting for time travelers to show up so that he can kill them and wipe out their timeline so that it can never happen again.
Who knows how long things might have continued this way if two travelers hadn’t shown up from the narrator’s own future? This isn’t supposed to be possible. Worse, these travelers claim to be the narrator’s descendants. Even worse than that, these travelers who are the narrator’s descendants are so damned chipper that it sets the narrator’s teeth on edge. The plot kicks into high gear at this point as the narrator begins his plan to un-create the utopia that he apparently unwittingly spawned. This is also where the hijinks start to ensue. The narrator gets into all kinds of shenanigans that had me laughing in spite of myself, especially when he starts to pull baddies out of history to fight for him. (He notes critically that he forgot to include time for team-building exercises.)
One Day All This Will Be Yours was a surprisingly entertaining read, with one flaw. The narrator tells his story a few too many times. Tchaikovsky commits the writerly sin of telling more than showing in this novella. A little more editing on those would’ve left room for what makes this story so much fun: screwing around with history. It’s a relatively small flaw considering how imaginative the rest of the story is. I would recommend it for fans of time travel stories looking for a bit of fun.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.