This is How You Lose the Time War - Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone


This short story is about two time-traveling arch-enemies who decide to become pen pals. During their correspondence, they develop romantic feelings for each other.

Here are three things I did not like about this book -

  • Abstraction
  • Derivative
  • The Ending


Much of the sci-fi is abstract. Time travel is not explained in detail, and the concept of a multiverse is alluded to. The book assumes that we are all familiar with the time-travel and multiverse concepts that have been made famous in Marvel and DC fiction. This book would seem unclear to the novice non-sci-fi reader.

Blue and Red are the only names given to the main characters of this book. Red is the protagonist, while Blue is the antagonist. Both characters are elite agents belonging to opposing factions that are waging war against each other across time. Reasons for this war are not given.


This story reminded me of the movie Cloud Atlas. Although categorized as sci-fi, it is more of a movie about interrelated events spanning centuries and how they shaped people.

Red describes how, in her faction, individuals are grown and fed intravenously and are part of a collective. This was similar to how the machines in The Matrix enslave humans.

The Ending

The ending almost had a Deux Ex Machina element to it. Red is in anguish after causing Blue's death. In retaliation, she undertakes an unsanctioned mission into the enemy faction stronghold, which results in Blue coming back from the dead. It was confusing to me.