Tomorrow Lives Today: A Review

This review is part of my judging effort for SPSFC2. For a little intro to the whole thing and an explanation of my judging style, see this practice review.


Today, we’re going to take a look at Tomorrow Lives Today, by W. O. Torres.

I immediately had a chuckle at the title of this book, since it has this charmingly enthusiastic retro-sci-fi feel to it (“Huzzah! Tomorrow lives – today!”). I guess what I’m saying is, I was in the right spirit for reading it even though I did sort of get the wrong impression – sort of – from that title. Tomorrow, you see, was the code-name for the main character and we were treated to a nice variety of little ‘tomorrow’ jokes in chapter heads as we went along.

Still, that eager and excited retro feeling never quite went away, and as this story was a love letter to Stan Lee (I liked the little in-loving-memory note at the front, and the opening explanation of the technical singularity was a great setup) that overall vibe was very much not out of place here. Those starting conditions looped nicely into the narrative and all made sense very fast – like very, very fast – so I have to salute that.

Yes, I was charmed from the beginning, and despite maybe a little bit of clumsy writing here and there, what we got was a fun and explosive opening, then a skip-back to earlier (always a good idea to start with a big action sequence), and an action-packed thrill ride of a sci-fi adventure story. And more than a few laughs.

See? Funny.

Like the book itself, I guess I launched straight in and should now backtrack a bit. What’s it all about? Well, it’s about this guy, Brody ‘Tomorrow’ Rodriguez, who is part of a special ops team (sort of – a bit – for now). He has superpowers granted to him by “the Singularity”, or “the Blue”, sort of an internal power field that imbues him with the ability to heal, perform amazing feats of acrobatics and strength, conjure weapons … you name it. It basically OPs him beyond the ludicrous barrier. Stan Lee love aside, I was most reminded of the Green Lantern’s power – and Brody’s uncomfortable-allies relationship with his team was reminiscent of Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. This, I feel, was no accident. But it was homage, rather than feeling derivative at any point. I will similarly make numerous references and jokes in this review, but that’s just what they are. Shout outs.

Our hero, Brody, is something of a playboy before he comes into his power. A Tony Hawk-esque skateboard star and fun-haver who fell (literally?) on hard times and was on the brink of having to accept some personal responsibility and get with the program after an injury takes him out of skateboarding at the top of his game. He has the Singularity thrust upon him under pretty weird circumstances that slowly unfold and become clear through the rest of the story, and the action explodes from there.

There was a sort of innocent joyousness to the story that I really liked. I don’t know how well the time travel and future-rewriting plot works (like, if the machines don’t make machines and that means the time machine is never invented, how…?), but it’s original. I’ll give it that. And once you have time travel and sentient machines trying to re-write or prevent the re-writing of future history, you’re off the map and can basically just make it work however it works in your story.

I was charmed and amused in equal measure by Brody’s coolness and his boyish naïveté. When he learns that he’s Isabella’s grandfather and the woman he just had a one night stand with is her grandmother, he immediately assumes she’s going to be his wife. Something about that was just very disarming and cute. And the line about him skateboarding to work and thus being carbon neutral is fucking hilarious, this guy routinely flies in planes all over the world so get out of here with that noise. Even so, damn it, I liked him.

It gets as complicated as you’d expect when a self-aware expression of pure dark matter computing from the technological singularity of the not-too-distant future comes back in time to perform selective historical surgery, along with a PhD professor on a special chronological uplink, and also there’s a thing called The Strain that is about to wipe out a lot of the global poor and / or drug addicts, leaving room for the tax-paying sheeple elites to survive. Yeah, it’s a lot.

Who are the friends? Who are the enemies? What’s the overall plot? Some of it, like I said, becomes clear as the dust settles but a lot of it is just fucking mayhem and I love it. Once you pass that event horizon of crazy – the singularity, if you will – then nothing really matters and you’re free to revel in a story that can do basically anything. And that’s fun for the reader and (very obviously) the author.

The result is an action-packed and chuckle-worthy festival of fight scenes, ‘superhero landings’ and – it has to be said, great plot twists. I don’t think I would have been quite so impressed by the twists we got, actually, if it wasn’t for the sheer madness of the narrative and the occasional bit of awkward phrasing in the writing.

I’m not saying “it was badly written and that made the clever plot a pleasant surprise.” I’m saying “it was so well-mapped that it wasn’t let down in the slightest by its occasional editorial issues.” There’s a difference. Oh look, we’re moving on to the meters.

Sex-o-meter

Brody and Destiny have at least one (1) sex, tastefully handled and amusingly resultant in an immediate grandchild because time travel automatically adds a sprinkling of hilarity to any sexcapade. Even so, it was pretty tame. I give this book a Marty McFly out of a possible Fry Farnsworth.

Gore-o-meter

This is a comic book in novel form, and even given the high potential for violence in comics, this was one of the other types of comic books. And that’s okay. We got action, we got fights, and we got some injuries and deaths – but it wasn’t gory. One flesh-gobbet out of a possible five for Tomorrow Lives Today.

WTF-o-meter

It’s time travel, so you’re going to have to expect a fair amount of WTF to be tracked in on the underside of the ol’ flux capacitor. Quite aside from that, I was enthralled by the glimpses of the future we got here. Of warehouses full of random machine-built nth-generation gadgets and gizmos as we plunge headlong past the technological singularity and the golden age of human innovation and plenty turns dark. The mechanisms by which all of this happens, and the little pieces of things we see in the unfolding of the action, it’s all very wild and wacky. Speaking of turning dark, is dark matter a thing anymore? I think  I read somewhere that it isn’t a thing. Oh well. This book is giving readings in the high Cheeches in mind-blowery, for an overall grade of a Rufus out of a possible Skynet.

My Final Verdict

The brother’s birthday celebration was so sad. I’ll just put that in here since it didn’t fit anywhere else. There was heart in this story as well as fun, and when it appears it can be a real kick in the guts. But what we got overall was fun, and excitement, and a really quite readable book and a nice setup for further adventures. I give it three stars on the Amazon / Goodreads scale.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy. https://hatboy.blog/2013/12/17/metalude-who-are-creepy-and-hatboy/
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