Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a 2022 novel by Gabrielle Zevin. The novel follows the relationship between three friends who begin a successful video game company together. It is Zevin's fifth novel for adults and tenth novel overall.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Cover of book with title in colorful lettering against a background of a blue wave rendered in the style of a Japanese woodblock print
Cover of the first edition, which features The Great Wave off Kanagawa in the background
AuthorGabrielle Zevin
CountryUnited States
PublishedJuly 5, 2022
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group

Premise edit

Set over the course of several decades, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow follows video game developers Sadie Green and Sam Masur, childhood friends who reunite while both studying at universities in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Along with Sam's roommate and friend Marx Watanabe, Sam and Sadie begin developing a video game and later co-manage a successful video game studio, Unfair Games.[1]

Plot edit

In the 1980s, adolescents Sam Masur and Sadie Green meet in a pediatric hospital. Sadie's older sister, Alice, is being treated for childhood leukemia, while Sam is undergoing multiple surgeries on his foot, which was crushed in the car crash that killed his mother. Having become selectively mute since the crash, Sam spends all his time playing Nintendo Entertainment System in the game room. Nurses encourage Sadie to play with him; having someone to share games with causes Sam to begin speaking again and the pair become best friends. Finding out that spending time with Sam can count as community service as required for her bat mitzvah, Sadie begins tallying her hours at the hospital, though she values her time with Sam more than fulfilling the requirement. After her recovery, a jealous Alice tells Sam about the tally sheet, which deeply offends him. Sam and Sadie stop speaking and don't see one another again for six years.

The pair reunite by chance at a train station in New England when both are nineteen. Sam is studying math at Harvard and Sadie engineering at MIT. Still suffering issues with his foot, Sam lives off-campus with Marx, an amateur Shakespearean acting student who has come to see Sam as the brother he always wanted as a child. Sadie impulsively asks Sam to playtest a video game she programmed for a software design class and he agrees. Sam and Marx play the game and are impressed to discover it to be a simulation that tricks the player into believing they are building mundane factory parts when in fact they are manufacturing equipment for the Nazis during the Holocaust. Meanwhile, Sadie's professor, Dov, an Israeli war veteran and successful game programmer in his own right, becomes enamored with Sadie due to the game. The two begin an affair and Dov begins mentoring Sadie on how to become a better programmer. Their relationship ultimately crumbles when the married Dov decides to return to his wife.

Sadie falls into a deep depression and stops eating and bathing. Sam begins visiting her, and eventually convinces her to program a game together with him. Sadie moves in with Sam and Marx and they convert the apartment into a game studio called Unfair Games with Marx as their office manager. Sam and Sadie conceptualize Ichigo, an adventure game about a child lost at sea who must find his way back home. Struggling to develop a graphics engine, Sam encourages Sadie to ask Dov for help, and the two resume their relationship. With Dov's help, Sadie and Sam complete the game. Unfair Games is offered the choice between a lucrative distribution deal that will take away creative control of Ichigo or a more modest offer that gives them more freedom. Sam and Marx pressure Sadie into accepting the former so that Sam can afford the expensive amputation of his foot and prosthetic after his latest surgery fails.

Ichigo becomes a pop culture phenomenon and Sam and Sadie become celebrities, though Sadie bristles at game journalists' sexist assumptions that Sam contributed more to the game and company. She and Sam's relationship further deteriorates over the question of whether he was willing to prostitute her to Dov in exchange for help with Ichigo's graphics. Sadie dumps Dov and moves to Los Angeles with Sam and Marx to establish Unfair as a corporate entity and produce a contractually obligated Ichigo sequel. Marx and Sadie begin dating, a development which disturbs Sam, who fears they will abandon him if they become a committed couple. Marx pressures Sam into forestalling an Ichigo 3 in favor of working on Sadie's dream project, an elaborate RPG called Both Sides that takes place between alternate realities. The game is a commercial and critical failure, but the three become motivated to spin-off the game's idyllic American suburb of Mapletown into a virtual world called Mapleworld, which proves to be the company's greatest success. Sam's jealousy of Sadie and Marx's relationship and Sadie's discomfort with Sam gaining credit for their work further drives a wedge between them.

Sadie asks Marx to convince Sam for Unfair's next project be Master of the Revels, a Shakespearean-themed open world simulator game. Sam initially balks, and she develops the game on her own. Upon playing its demo, though, he compliments her work. It proves to be another success and Sam and Sadie go on tour to promote it for the Christmas 2005 season. In their absence, an attacker comes to the Unfair Headquarters looking for Sam, angry that he legalized gay marriage in Mapleworld. In Sam's absence, the extremist murders Marx before shooting himself.

Sadie, pregnant with her and Marx's child, becomes a recluse and leaves the running of Unfair to Sam. Having already planned development for an expansion pack for Master of the Revels, Sadie produces it from home, programming in a likeness of Marx who recites soliloquies from Macbeth, his favorite play. After giving birth, Sadie suffers from postpartum depression, but finds solace in an Oregon Trail-themed MMORPG where she befriends a variety of characters in the guise of a humble pioneer and single mother. Playing the game in seclusion over the course of three years, Sadie finally comes to terms with Marx's death and her role as a mother. Context clues finally lead Sadie to realize that several of her in-game friends, including her in-game wife, are Sam playing under alternate user IDs. Sadie confronts Sam, who admits he programmed the entire game for her using the Mapleworld engine, knowing she would be drawn to it and that it would be a way for them to heal together. An angry Sadie cuts off contact with Sam.

In 2008, Sadie has dinner with Dov, who tells her that only someone who truly loved her could have done what Sam did. Sadie forgives Sam and the two reunite, selling the rights to make Ichigo 3 to a third-party developer so they don't have to dwell on the past. Realizing that making games with Sam is one of the only things that's made her truly happy, the two begin planning Unfair's next game.

Background edit

Zevin began working on the novel at the end of 2017 and wrote the majority of it in 2020 during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having attended Harvard University during the 1990s, and lived in Los Angeles, Zevin's portrayal of Cambridge and Los Angeles are largely based on her own experiences.[1] In deciding to write about video game developers, Zevin was inspired by early generations of gamers, referred to as the "Oregon Trail Generation," and how exposure to video games since the late 1970s has impacted gamers' expectations for their own lives.[2]

Zevin has credited real-life video games and events with inspiring the fictional games portrayed in the novel. Sadie's fictional game Solution is "a take on Train", while the fictional game Pioneers reflects Zevin's experience playing Stardew Valley. Zevin also took inspiration for the main characters from real-life game designers, including Ken Williams, Roberta Williams, John Carmack, and John Romero.[3][4]

Reception edit

The novel was well received by critics,[5] including starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews[6] and Publishers Weekly.[7] Kirkus said the novel is "[s]ure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their life".[6] Publishers Weekly called the novel "a one-of-a-kind achievement".[7] In a review for The Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote favorably of the book's moral complexity, and related its Shakespearean title to the generative possibilities inherent in gameplay.[8]

Wired called the novel "utterly absorbing", and The New York Times Book Review referred to it as "delightful and absorbing" and "expansive and entertaining".[9] Paste recommended readers listen to the audiobook to better navigate "the complex, perspective-shifting format".[10] NPR's Maureen Corrigan praised the "big, beautifully written" book for placing a non-romantic relationship at its center, and for taking on the issue of cultural appropriation.[11] In contrast, Sam Brooks gave a negative review writing for The Spinoff, describing the characters as "barely distinct from anybody who has a vague interest in gaming" by the time the novel ends, and criticizing the game industry setting as "an unshapely tote bag, unsuited to carry anything that Zevin has bunged into it."[12]

In March 2023, game designer Brenda Romero told The Washington Post that the game Solution represents a substantial, uncredited appropriation of Romero's own game, Train, and the way "being complicit" was presented by Romero as the theme and purpose of the game is presented as if invented by the one of book's protagonists and by extension the book's author. "I have no doubt that Train is the best game I'll probably make," Romero said. "It is the one thing I will have to show for dedicating my life to games. And somebody decided that was just fair game." Todd Doughty, Knopf Doubleday's senior vice president for publicity and communications, was quoted in reply: "'Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow' is a work of fiction and when crafting a novel, every author draws from the world around them. As Gabrielle Zevin publicly stated in last year's 'Wired' interview, Brenda Romero's undistributed board game, 'Train,' which Zevin has never played but was aware of, served as one point of inspiration among many for the novel, including books, plays, video games, visual art and locales. The entire world, characters and themes of 'Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow' are solely Zevin's fictional creation and the only games listed in the author's acknowledgments are video games. Again, 'Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow' is a novel and not an academic or nonfiction text containing indexes, notes, or works cited. Knopf stands behind Gabrielle Zevin and her work."[13]

Awards and honors edit

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was a New York Times Best Seller, being listed on its 2022 Notable Books List, and an IndieBound best seller.[6] In July 2022, it was a book club pick for Amerie and Barnes & Noble,[14] as well as an Apple Books best seller for Fiction and Literature.[15] It continued to be an Apple Books best seller[16] in August and was also a Belletrist Book Club pick.[17] Amazon named the novel the best book of 2022,[18] as well as a Goodreads Choice Award winner in Fiction.[19] Indigo[20] and Kirkus[6] also included Tomorrow in their lists of the best books of the year. It was the 2024 selection for Everybody Reads, Multnomah County Library, Oregon.[21]

Adaptation edit

In 2021 even prior to its publication, Paramount Pictures and Temple Hill Entertainment purchased the film rights for Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow for $2 million.[1][22][23] The film will be produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, and Isaac Klausner,[22] with Zevin writing the script and executive producing.[22][1] In May 2024, Siân Heder was hired as the project's director.[24]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Zevin, Gabrielle (June 30, 2022). "'Games Are Another Form of Storytelling': PW Talks to Gabrielle Zevin". Publishers Weekly (Interview). Interviewed by Nathalie op de Beeck. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  2. ^ Zevin, Gabrielle (2022-08-11). "Gabrielle Zevin Believes Games Show People Who They Really Are". Wired (Interview). Interviewed by Will Bedingfield. Retrieved 2023-02-15.
  3. ^ Carpenter, Nicole (2022-07-12). "In Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, intense friendship and game design are intertwined". Polygon. Retrieved 2023-12-26.
  4. ^ Zevin, Gabrielle (2022-07-05). "How LA influenced Gabrielle Zevin's novel 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow'". The Orange County Register (Interview). Interviewed by Diya Chacko. Retrieved 2023-02-15.
  5. ^ "Book Marks reviews of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin". Book Marks. Archived from the original on 2023-02-26. Retrieved 2023-02-27.
  6. ^ a b c d "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow". Kirkus Reviews. Archived from the original on 2022-12-21. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  7. ^ a b "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin". Publishers Weekly. 2022-03-30. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  8. ^ Charles, Ron (June 28, 2022). "In Gabrielle Zevin's novel, two video game designers chase love IRL". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2022-07-02. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  9. ^ Bissell, Tom (2022-07-08). "How to Design a Beautiful, Cruel Universe". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  10. ^ Gunderson, Alexis (2022-07-06). "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow Is Gabrielle Zevin at Her Most Expansive". Paste Magazine. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  11. ^ Corrigan, Maureen (July 28, 2022). "The immersive novel 'Tomorrow' is a winner for gamers and n00bs alike". NPR. Archived from the original on 2022-11-14. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  12. ^ Brooks, Sam (2022-08-30). "Review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow feels so yesterday". The Spinoff. Archived from the original on 2022-08-30. Retrieved 2024-01-02.
  13. ^ "'Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow' sparks a debate about credit in fiction". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2023-03-24. Retrieved 2023-03-24.
  14. ^ Aquino, Gilcy (2022-07-18). "Book Club Picks for July 2022". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  15. ^ "Apple Books Category Bestsellers, July 31, 2022". Publishers Weekly. 2022-08-02. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  16. ^ "Apple Books Category Bestsellers, August 13, 2022". Publishers Weekly. 2022-08-16. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  17. ^ "Book Club Picks for August 2022". Publishers Weekly. 2022-08-08. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  18. ^ Schaub, Michael (2022-11-15). "Amazon Names Its Best Books of 2022". Kirkus Reviews. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  19. ^ "Announcing the Winners of the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards!". Goodreads. Archived from the original on 2022-12-09. Retrieved 2023-08-11.
  20. ^ "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin". Penguin Random House Canada. Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  21. ^ "MCL Everybody Reads Book Available". The Southeast Examiner. February 2, 2024. Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  22. ^ a b c Fleming, Mike Jr. (2021-02-08). "Paramount Pictures Locks $2 Million Deal For Gabrielle Zevin Novel 'Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow;' Temple Hill Producing". Deadline. Archived from the original on 2021-02-08. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  23. ^ Templeton, Molly (2021-02-08). "Paramount Picks Up the Rights to Gabrielle Zevin's Not-Yet-Published Novel Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow". Archived from the original on 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  24. ^ Kroll, Justin (3 May 2024). "'CODA' Director Siân Heder Boards Paramount's Adaptation Of New York Times Best-Seller 'Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 May 2024.