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Genre? Time travel; actual world; mystery; love affair


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#1 Bluelight

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:52 AM

Before I start querying, I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts on the genre of my novel. I have some intuitions about its genre, but I'd like to be more sure. I'll try to keep this summary as brief and clinical as I can.

 

-The novel is set is an unnamed city in the everyday, actual world. The main character is an introspective philosophy professor, named Cal, and the story is told from the first person. There's nothing supernatural in the story and none of the characters have special powers.

 

-Following a strange encounter one night, Cal discovers that a fellow professor has invented a working time machine. The latter man and his colleagues use the time machine for historical research and recovery of lost things. One critical element of the story is that the past cannot be altered. The past can be visited, the characters can learn things, they can find "lost" items, but they can't alter any events. It's not that kind of time travel story. (most all the trips back in time are to the mid to late 20th century)

 

-An unnamed man (our villain) hires our guys to find something: a stuffed raven that belonged to a murdered woman. They travel back and find the raven, give it to this mystery client and this client later assaults one of the time travelers over what was found. The raven is later found to contain a key. What does the key open?  Why was a woman apparently murdered because of this stuffed raven? Will our time travelers be able stop the villain before he kills one of them, or exposes the time machine to the world? (There's very mild violence in the story.)

 

-In an effort to learn the full truth about the stuffed raven, our main character travels back to meet the murdered woman the summer before she was killed. They have a brief, but doomed love affair (no explicit sex scenes). I say 'doomed' because the past can't be changed. This woman WILL be murdered the following spring, and our time traveler has to return to the present-day before then. The main character does suffer her loss. Should he have told her about her fate? Did he just use her to learn about the stuffed raven?   

 

This is merely a clinical summary of elements of the story. Based on this, what kind of novel do you think it is? 

 

Many thanks in advance for your advice.

 



#2 KitCampbell

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 09:28 AM

The addition of time travel makes me think you're going to have to sell it as science fiction, but you might look at The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and see what it's classified as, because it sounds like you have some of the same elements.



#3 Bluelight

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:24 AM

I think you've hit upon the heart of the problem: time travel=sci-fi. And normally, that's the case. But based on sci-fi I've read and browsed, this doesn't feel like that. It's a story of some kind (mystery?) that just happens to involve time travel. I'm glad you mention 'Time Traveler's Wife.' That felt like a romance---not in the Harlequin sense---that happened to involve time travel; and very ingeniously too.

 

At any rate, thanks for the feedback. I'm sure I'll be able to sort something out.



#4 Thrash

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:29 PM

It also echos of "Time after Time" which is science fiction/mystery.  I think you can classify it as a "sci-fi mystery" fairly safely.  But you can't pretend a time-machine isn't science fiction. You're more likely to alienate a mystery agent with surprise time travel than a science fiction agent with surprise mystery, so if you choose one, make it sci-fi.



#5 kathleenq

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 12:24 PM

I agree with science fiction as a primary genre and mystery as secondary


Synopsis: Glass Domes


#6 Erik18

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Posted 16 October 2017 - 09:03 AM

I've been suffering the same dilemma.  In my novel the inciting impetus is magical, but in all other respects, it's a thriller.  To call it fantasy or magical realism would be misleading I believe, but there's no denying that a premise involving magic, fantasy of sci-fi must be acknowledged even if those elements are not the primary drivers of the story.  Perhaps the solution is to identify the story by using the label that most suits it and then add a caveat.  E.g.  In my case:  A thriller with a fantastic premise or in your case: A mystery with elements of sci-fi thrown in.






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