Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #45

TITLE: Through the Time Gate

“We do not touch. We do not change. We watch.

Caleb rolled his eyes behind Penelope’s back. Honestly, did she think he hadn’t heard that phrase eighty thousand times during his entrance interviews and orientation? It was the one rule they couldn’t break.
“Do you understand, Junior Archivist Porter?”

Stifling a snicker at how serious she sounded, he quickened his pace to match hers as she marched down the corridor. “Yes, ma’am.”

The Archivist Agency forced every new initiate—intern or not—to commit the mantra to memory before gaining access to the building, let alone to the Time Gate. And no matter how much Caleb wanted to know more about them, he wouldn’t break the Temporal Directive. What good would it do, anyway? It wouldn’t make the stories, pictures, or vidrecs any more real.

Ugh, stop whining, he scolded himself. This isn’t the time or place for it.

“You will be little more than a ghost during your time jumps,” Penelope continued as she toured him through the Archivist Agency, the building once known as the Smithsonian Institute back in the early 21st century.

Chronos, how far they’d come in two hundred years, from just dreaming about holographic technologies and biomachinery to having an actual—functional—time portal. And to think his father had been the one to build all this…


  1. It's an interesting start. I'd read on to see if the main character ends up breaking one of these rules or not. Though I'd be a little leery of reading on if everything in the modern day had a new name in the future just because. Right now it almost feels like this is the future because I'm telling you how all these things have changed rather than letting me experience the future you've created for myself.

  2. Hooked, for sure. Love the opening line. The only place I stumbled was when you got to "chronos". Not really sure what you meant by that. Is it the name of the portal?

  3. Chronos is an oath, right? Like God, I need a cheeseburger.

    I love this opening, but I am a sucker for time travel stories. I love the idea of archivists observing the past for posterity, and the temporal directive adds some fun foreshadowing. The writing is good, easy to read, with just enough emotion in Caleb's pov to get to know him a little.

    The title, however... Not sure if it would grab the attention of an agent. Sounds like something I've heard before, and it's maybe just a hair too obvious.

    I'd read on, for sure!

  4. Just flipping through entries, killing time, and I totally got hooked by this one. I hope your book gets picked up so I can read it someday. Nothing better than a little time travel to make things interesting (this from a HUGE Dr. Who fan...).

  5. (Just have to add that I agree on the title--you need something more "zingy"--maybe one word?

  6. Totally love this! Your opening is great, informative w/o being a data dump.

    Yeah, work on the title, but at least it would capture my attention to make me read the back cover, so that job accomplished.

    The only nit was "Caleb wanted to know more about them" - who is them?

    I would be all over reading this and hope to see it some day!

  7. I'm with GSMArlene. That same line threw me. Who is/are "them" (whoa, that's a weird grammar issue)?

    It also reminded me of a book called Past Watch by Orson Scott Card. Deals with people watching and learning from the past, but they have an agenda. choose the right moment in time to intervene and change history to save the future world kind of thing.

  8. I'd read on. I like the concept, but I'm not sure about Caleb's attitude at the moment - he rolls his eyes, snickers and then chides himself for whining all in the space of a few lines.

  9. Interesting. I thought the last paragraph was a little odd, though. It felt like back story that was just thrown in. Other than that, I really liked it. It definitely made me want to read more.

  10. I love YA sci fi and your writing is good, but for some reason I'm not hooked. But to be truthful, I'm often not hooked in published novels in 250 words. I think the main problem for me here is that I'm not connecting to Caleb. I think its his attitude. I'd keep reading though to give him a chance.

  11. I like the voice and the setup here and would read on, but I got confused when Caleb scolds himself for whining. It sounded more like he was wondering about a few things to himself, not whining. (Does it even count as whining if you don't say anything out loud?)

    Good luck!

  12. Overall, I like where this is heading, but I think this page could be improved. I agree with others that you could cut the line about him whining. There's also a bit of authorial intrusion on this first page, where Caleb is clearly thinking about things because you want the reader to know, not because the character would really be considering them. eg. When he is thinking that the building used to be called the Smithsonian Institute. Would Caleb really be thinking of the old name of the building on his way to his first time jump? If this information really needs to be on the first page, perhaps you could find a more natural way to introduce it - maybe they could pass an old sign that says the Smithsonian Institute. If he's going to the early 21st century, that would explain why he's thinking about this time period, but otherwise why would he think about this time period more than another?

    I can understand why he would be thinking about his father, but I think you can present this information in a way that also conveys Caleb's attitude towards his father. Perhaps Penelope could say something like, "And none of this would exist without your father," and Caleb's reaction would tell us whether he felt proud of his father, or resentful that he was always being compared to his father, or both.

  13. Loved the opening line. It drew me right in. I did think you might mention them walking down the corridor a bit sooner, though. I imagined a classroom setting and wondered why he was behind her

    Parg 4 was a bit confusing. What is 'them' that he wants to know more about? The building and time gate are what 'them' refers to grammatically, but while I can see him being curious about the time gate, I can't see him being curious about the building.

    I also didn't see him as whining, although he does seem to have a bad attitude with his eye rolling and smirking, etc. Is there a reason for.

    And if his father invented it all, wouldn't he know a lot about it already? Maybe more than most people? IT seems he should already know a good deal about how it all works.

    I'd read more.

  14. I feel this opening is too focused on things that already happened, even hundreds of years ago, rather than what the main character is going through right now. It comes off as somewhat forced world-building, instead of letting the history of the world unfold naturally. And I’m afraid this joins the many YA time traveling stories I see, so you really need something special to make it stand out.