“Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel

It is quite funny how I actually ended up reading “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel and it turned out to be exactly not the book I thought it would be. When reading a description, it said something about immigrants to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century from England and I was like, okay that’s great. I miss Canada, there is some history there, it will be fun and interesting.

So yes, this book is not AT ALL about immigrants to Canada in the 20th century and I am actually still not sure what it is about and I am convinced that it is very important to read past the first line of the book description! “Sea of Tranquility” turns out to be about time and space travel and covers different times. In the essence of the story, detective Gaspbery, who is working for the Time Insitute in the 23rd century is investigating the time anomaly that happened to several people and that looks like the time got corrupted as would the file on your laptop be corrupted. The reason why he is investigating it is to find out whether the characters are living in a simulation or not. I won’t say much more about the plot to not give it away.


“I think, as species, we have the desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millenia of false alarms, now is finally we have reached the end of the world… But all of this raises an interesting question,” Olive said. “What if it always is the end of the world?… Because we might reasonably think of the end of the world,” Olive said, “as a continuous and never-ending process.”


Firstly, the book picked my interest although I am not usually a fan of sci-fi. I quite enjoyed the genre so I will be looking into it more in the future. Secondly, although I liked the genre, the book itself could have been much better executed. For the first half of the book, I was like: I am reading something but I am still not sure what I am reading and I am thoroughly confused. The detective storyline was still engaging but I feel like the rest of the story about the different times that Gaspbery visited was kind of stitched together rather than organically woven into the actual novel.

I think the author tried to tackle an important question about humanity in the time of technological advance but I am still not clear if that was the point? I think it was – but should I be clear? You see how much confusion is around the book! I was really surprised to have seen so many positive reviews of the novel on Goodreads because it is only 3 stars for me.

If definitive proof emerges that we’re living in a simulation, the correct response to that news will be so what. A life lived is a simulation is still a life.

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