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Trials in Time Travel

By Wildbow, author of Ward

Feb 20, 2012: The Fixers doesn’t break a lot of new ground as science fiction goes, but it does handle itself fairly well. The premise is simple: the main characters have been set the task of fixing temporal anomalies through murder, saving lives or putting objects in their rightful place.

The plot echoes other classic science fiction, paralleling Quantum Leap in how they travel to different times and places with little control over where they go, being perceived as though they fit in, with challenges not dissimilar to the ‘save Sarah Connor’ struggle of Terminator. Ten entries in, however, The Fixers has begun to set itself apart from the works that may have inspired it. Different factions with opposing philosophies on time travel are working against the titular fixers, and characters have mentioned but not elaborated on a past war involving time travel.

Many of the first few chapters involve the antagonistic relationship between Gretchen, the new recruit, and ‘Seb’, the veteran fixer. This friction is justifiable, as Gretchen initially suspects Seb of killing her, and later horrified to see him kill someone else. That said, it’s hard to understand how Gretchen can have a passable working relationship with the man despite this, or how she could have a fairly normal conversation with him, only to return to cranky snapping and general bitchiness a few breaths later. It doesn’t quite ring true, which is a shame, considering the amount of text devoted to this interplay between the two.

In terms of layout, the work features white text on a dark gray background, but there’s some visual inconsistency between the glossy background on either side of the text and the grainy image of the header bearing the story’s title at the top of each page, which can distract the eye. Similarly, any clicked-on links change from blue to dark red, and become difficult to read. It’s a minor issue, but it stands out.

The story has potential, and it’s easy to see how the elements the author has put in motion could be spun into an excellent yarn, but it’s not quite there yet.

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