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A Game Of Clones: A pitch to publishers everywhere.

Looking for the next Song of Ice and Fire? Well, fret not, you’ve found it. Here are the forthcoming dozen violent, sexy and confusing time-travel thrillers starring the Tempus Fugitive himself, Justin Thyme. They’ll be written as soon as a publisher gets in touch and waves a massive advance my way.

A Brief History Of Thyme

Justin Thyme is a man rightly feared, and the series of a dozen books he will one day star in when I get around to writing them strikes terror in the hearts of the literary and the literate everywhen.

The series charts a history and a future that hasn’t happened just now, but that shouldn’t prevent us from discussing them, since you will no doubt have already read them at some point. Soon. So, just to recap, here’s an introduction to the most stunning and shocking series of time-travel adventures that haven’t been written.

Tempus Fugitive: Out Of Thyme

Justin Thyme is a man on the run. The avid bird-watcher and part-time botanical enthusiast is accused of tax fraud and faces a deadline to prove his innocence. Digging deep into the recesses of his records, in the memorable chapter “Thyme Files”, Justin stumbles on a long-forgotten prototype time-travel device. “How did that get here?” he asks. While tinkering with the settings he concludes that he can go back a few years and fix his tax records from day one. But as always there are unintended consequences, and in every time he visits Justin finds himself accused of some evil deed. He messes up the timeline so completely that the only solution he can see is to visit Dallas in 1964.

Tempus Fugitive II: Hard Thyme

Locked away in Area 51 for assassinating JFK, Justin befriends the Roswell alien. Less of an action adventure than the first, the long passages of dialogue and musings on the human condition under the duress of prolonged isolation were widely panned by critics at the time but are now considered essential for philosophy students the world over. The escape sequence at the climax is sometimes compared to Joyce, but never favourably.

Tempus Fugitive III: A Thyme To Kill, A Thyme To Die

Back on the run and back doing what he does worst, Justin Thyme gets caught in a temporal paradox. Hard to believe, I know, given the subject matter of the series. This time, causality’s in question as Thyme catches up with himself, leading to a life-and-death confrontation. Think Evil Spock, but without the beard.

Tempus Fugitive IV: Thyme Stops For No Man

The joke that Thyme only stops for a woman was as well received by feminists as you would expect. Scared away from 19th century England by a headstrong young woman seeking love rather than a fortune, Justin is chased through time and, for the first time, space by a band of copyright pirates. When Justin Thyme encounters Sergeant Pepper in 1947, interrupting the day he was teaching the band to play, the history of popular music is radically revised. Twenty years later Lucy was in the sea with sapphires and Ringo got no help from anyone. On the moon in 2763, Thyme meets Rosemary Spiggs, who knows the secret of the great chick lit holocaust of 2214. From here the plot follows a standard counter-linear reductive narrative that charts the start of a tortuous love story the likes of which Nicholas Sparks might have vomited.

Tempus Fugitive V: The Empire’s Spice Rack

This one’s a bit of a melange but pretty much everyone’s favourite.

Tempus Fugitive VI: Borrowed Thyme

You’d think having a time machine would make keeping appointments and promises simple, but not for Justin. A malfunction means he keeps turning up five minutes late to vital events, only to find his fiercest enemy, himself, has been there to ruin everything. Justin’s future life as an unhappily married man will come to an abrupt end if he fails to get back in time for a crucial date with Rosemary. Written with a disconcerting amount of iambic pentameter, it combines avant-garde English stylings and humorous reflexive syllogisms with all the subtlety of an advertising brochure.

Tempus Fugitive VII: Thyme Keeps On Slipping

The fate of worlds is in the balance, but Justin Thyme’s shoes have worn out from his years on the run and he falls over at crucial moments. This book receives a favourable mention in Metalmorphosis: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the paranoid androids, despite being written many years later. This is one of the many time distortions the series has created by virtue of its very existence.

Tempus Fugitive VIII: Knight Time

The Green Knight had a name, and a skin condition not associated with eating too much thyme. Justin goes gallivanting with Galahad and company, suggests a few seating arrangements and brings along the WD-40 so Arthur can get his sword out of a stone. Rosemary spends much of the book battling a cassowary invasion in Antarctica in the late 2100s, firing off drones remotely so as not to disrupt her pregnancy, and fretting about what colour to paint the nursery.

Tempus Fugitive IX: The Land That Thyme Forgot

Justin Thyme finally visits Australia and gets close to the native wildlife, which happen to be dinosaurs.

Tempus Fugitive X: Mean Thyme

A day in the life leading up to the death of the alternative Justin Thyme who expired in Tempus Fugitive III. The author was starting to run out of ideas at this point.

Tempus Fugitive XI: One More Thyme (With Or Without Feeling)

This one was a contractual obligation and it shows.

Tempus Fugitive XII: End Of Thyme

Will Justin Thyme die, or will he stage a Harry Potter-like resurrection (spoiler al… oops) and then go on to live out the rest of his life as the tax-dodging bird watcher he always aspired to be? Neither, since his adventures have left him a broken man with fraught nerves who breaks jars in the pantry when his wife surprises him. But before that can happen, there is the small matter of a grandson, Paradox.

Thyme on my hands

Well, that’s pretty much the series as it is going to have been written. So all you publishers out there, don’t be afraid to call. And don’t fret over whether I will have used future perfect or past simple or present continuous or whatever, just know that the series will be intense.


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