Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What's It All About

Originally, I wasn't going to say anything about the plot or the gimmick of Time and the Soldier. After the last post, there seems no reason not to do so, and I thought that a very brief synopsis might be of interest. "Brief" is the tricky part. The plot is long and complex, and there's no point in going into it very far, especially since there are twists that are supposed to be suprises to the reader. So here's at least the first part of the story.

Near the end of WWII, three people are recruited by Tempus, a mysterious, somewhat sinister organization. Tempus has close links links with the OSS and other Western intelligence agencies. It's rolling in dough and employs some of the top scientists in the world, competing for them with some other big project it knows is underway but hasn't been able to penetrate. Tempus has finally managed to send people forward in time, but only for short distances, and only forward, not back. (The forward-not-back part is explained with appropriate pseudo-science and plays a part in the plot.)

The three recruits - Tommy, Frank, and Ellen - will be sent forward with two goals: acquire futuristic weapons that can be used to end the war quickly and ensure US hegemony, and find a way to travel backward in time to 1945 with those weapons. The assumption is that the scientists of the future will surely have discovered how to go back. Tommy and Frank were both transferred from the US Army, Tommy from the fighting in France and Frank from Italy, and Ellen is a civilian. Tempus has no idea what they'll encounter in the Wonderful World of the Future, so it will hedge its bets by sending them to different points: Tommy fifty years ahead, to 1995, Ellen to 2045, and Frank to 2095.

During their training, a love triangle develops. They know that if they don't back out, they'll very likely never see each other again. They also have reason to believe that Tempus won't let them leave alive, so they have no choice but to jump forward.

Two other characters are important: the head of Tempus, and the driving force behind it, a creepy guy named Hughes; and a brilliant woman named Dolores who is in charge of much of the research at Tempus.

The first part of the book follows the three protagonists to the point where they jump. After that, the story follows each one's adventures in the future. I'm reluctant to say more, because this is where it starts to get really twisty, with interrelated stuff and backward jumps and things getting blowed up real good and some blood and sex (not together! not that kind of book!). Even condensed to the degree the above is, describing much more would make this post absurdly long. Which may be a sign that the plot is overly complex and the book will be too long. All I can do is hope that's not the case.

Maybe, when the thing is in some final form, I'll post some scenes here. I dunno.


Chris said...

Man, what are the odds Spielberg managed all that? Sounds to me like once you get past the one-sentence description, they won't be very much alike at ALL...

David said...


You're right, by God.

Unless Spielberg's show uses multi-episode story arcs, there won't be room for much character development. It'll have to follow the standard reset-to-start-at-episode-end. A long book like mine allows much more scope for character development and plot complexities.

He'll need an antagonist. I can't remember if the announcement I read mentioned that. One can anticipate time-traveling Nazi agents shadowing our heroes, pretending to be their friends and residents of the present but suddenly revealed to be sneering Spielberg-style Nazis!

I think I just outlined the script for at least one of his episodes.

Chris said...


I just remembered something that may be of great import, given your recent Spielberg-induced malaise. I suppose I must have blocked it out, much as one blocks out a traumatic experience like abuse or, perhaps not coincidentally, alien abduction.

Like most authors, I've got me a manuscript in the drawer that'll probably never see the light of day(it's unfinished, but still.) It's the story of a man obsessed with a beautiful stranger, and convinced that she was at the center of a vast conspiracy involving alien abduction and the potential extinction of Man. The narrator was unreliable at best; perhaps his outlandish theories were true, and perhaps he was just nuts. But the working title, which I liked for its double-meaning, was "Taken". I had to change it, though, when SciFi ran an abduction-related miniseries of the same name, produced by... Stephen Spielberg.

I'm beginning to suspect something truly nefarious is going on. He's not to be trusted.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go fashion myself a tinfoil hat...

David said...


This would certainly explain how the man can come up with so many different ideas. Clearly, he's reading the minds of many different authors!

Your unfinished book sounds intriguing, though, and I hope you'll revisit it in the future.

Chris said...

Thanks for saying so. I DID try to revisit it, after finishing THE ANGELS' SHARE, but to no avail. I still think the concept is solid (there's a hell of a reveal that I neglected to mention, which points toward the fact that I'm not yet ready to give up on this thing), but I went too far down some fruitless paths in the initial draft. Rather than trying to bring it back around, I think I need a fresh start, and so to the back-burner it goes...