Fic­tion

Tomor­row, and Tomor­row, and Tomorrow

  • Review
By – July 5, 2022

Tomor­row, and Tomor­row, and Tomor­row is a fas­ci­nat­ing fic­tion­al hybrid: a view into the intri­cate art and craft of video-game design, a poignant bil­dungsro­man, and a love sto­ry. A pro­lif­ic nov­el­ist, Gabrielle Zevin is equal­ly com­fort­able with poet­ic lan­guage and com­put­er cod­ing con­cepts, and she excels at depict­ing the sub­tlest of human emo­tions. An Emi­ly Dick­in­son poem (“That Love is all there is”) serves as the epi­graph of the book:

That Love is all there is,

Is all we know of Love;

It is enough, the freight should be

Pro­por­tioned to the groove.

Like Dick­in­son, Zevin sug­gests a world in which mean­ing does not need to be sep­a­rat­ed from mechanics.

The nov­el con­cerns three bril­liant young stu­dents: Sam, Marx, and Sadie. The two young men are room­mates at Har­vard; Sadie, whom they both adore, is a stu­dent at MIT. Togeth­er, they attempt to make video games whose rid­dles and hypo­thet­i­cal quests will become as famil­iar to their gen­er­a­tion as Shake­speare and his heroes were to his.

In cre­at­ing the fan­tas­ti­cal worlds of their video games, Sadie and her peers feel that they are improv­ing on real­i­ty. One of them describes the vir­tu­al world as per­fectible,” unlike the actu­al world … the ran­dom garbage fire it always is.” He goes on to say, There’s not a god­damn thing I can do about the actu­al world’s code.” These young com­put­er design­ers are con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ty to cre­ate a uni­verse far more fair (in both sens­es of the world) than the one into which they were born.

We all know that real world all too well. It is one in which fail­ure can be final, bod­ies can be bro­ken, and hearts can be hurt beyond repair. Zevin’s slow, patient plot­line sub­jects all three of her pro­tag­o­nists to pain. Sam, an out­sider who is Jew­ish and Kore­an, has a bad­ly injured foot, prone to infec­tion, for which he is hos­pi­tal­ized from an ear­ly age. Sadie, who is also Jew­ish, is vic­tim­ized by a charm­ing Israeli men­tor” at the pre­dom­i­nant­ly male MIT. Marx’s inter­nal con­flict is embod­ied by his Amer­i­can Kore­an mother’s sub­servience to his Japan­ese father. All must face the vagaries of friend­ship, pro­fes­sion­al jeal­ousy, a cru­el and some­times vio­lent pub­lic — and the love tri­an­gle that is embed­ded in the grooves of the plot.

But the vir­tu­al world is dif­fer­ent. As Marx puts it: What is a game? … It’s the pos­si­bil­i­ty of infi­nite rebirth, infi­nite redemp­tion. The idea that if you keep play­ing, you could win. No loss is per­ma­nent, because noth­ing is per­ma­nent, ever.” This is the key to this novel’s wist­ful charm — the belief that tomor­row” is always pos­si­ble, and that, with­in that end­less future, Love is all there is.”

Sonia Taitz, a Ramaz, Yale Law, and Oxford grad­u­ate, is the author of five books, includ­ing the acclaimed sec­ond gen­er­a­tion” mem­oir, The Watch­mak­er’s Daugh­ter, and the nov­el, Great with Child. Praised for her warmth and wit by Van­i­ty Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Peo­ple and The Chica­go Tri­bune, she is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a nov­el about the Zohar, the mys­ti­cal source of Jew­ish transcendence.

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