There Comes a Time, by J.J. Green (2:24)

therecomesatimeToday we are reminded that most people expect the near future to still have access to the things we enjoy today, unless told otherwise

What I gleaned about the stories: If being at a particular point at a particular time is vital to survival, don’t rely on time estimation with a 75% error rate.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

WTF #1: Temporal continuity break

Analysis: The first story opens with the protagonist having been transported to another time and place for exactly an hour. Her landing zone isn’t where she expected so she starts exploring. A couple of pages in, she started wondering how long had elapsed and speculates wildly different times. Immediately, I questioned why she didn’t know. She’d been transported through time and space by some technology, so why didn’t she have access to a watch or other time piece?

I speculated that potentially the travel method messed up electronic devices, but why didn’t she have a mechanical watch, or even an hourglass? The author might well have an explanation, but without knowing what it was, I could only speculate. Which made me wonder what else might not be explained.

My trust in the level of description damaged, I moved on.

WTF #2: Intimacy mismatch

Analysis: The second story opens with Prussis undertaking an experiment. After a few paragraphs of her actions and internal responses to them, I hit …Hertna, Prussis’ supervisor, came in. As people don’t refer to themselves by name when relaying events (for example, I wouldn’t think – or say – “Then Dave’s wife came home”; I’d think “Then, my wife came home”), I parsed this as Hertna being a third character’s supervisor, then stumbled when my mind caught up with that being the protagonist’s name.

I realised a moment later that the story might be in an omniscient PoV, but close third person is more common, so – without evidence to the contrary – I’d assumed it was. After re-reading the first paragraphs, I still wasn’t certain whether it was omniscient PoV or the use of the character’s name was a glitch.

Being uncertain on the first page after a re-read was a clear issue, so I moved on.

WTF #3: Inconsistent naming

Analysis: The third story opens with a sentence that names the protagonist as Geoffrey. The next sentence calls him Geoff. With nothing to indicate why the narrator had abbreviated his name, I slammed to a halt. Was this a deliberate choice? Had it slipped through editing? If it had slipped through editing, what else had?

Unsure whether this was missing description or a sign of issues with the line editing, but sure that my trust that the prose would be smooth was gone, I pulled the plug.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

Enchanting the King, by E.D. Walker (4:21)
Invasion, by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (40:00)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction.He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.