[IFComp 2015] The Man Who Killed Time

The Man Who Killed Time, by Claudia Doppioslash, is an online story that uses the inkle interface. You can read it here.

Cover art from

In the shabby, dusty office, just overlooking one of the least busy streets in town, sat the Detective owner of the establishment. You wouldn’t think it by looking at his head, as usual lowered as to almost touch his desk while perusing some paper or other, that this man, yes, actually this man, had killed Time.

Or will kill Time.

Or is killing Time, this very moment (the ordering is always the trickiest bit).

Notes: – English is not my first language. – While I was writing it, I realised its nature is more that of a non-branching story, but I wanted to have an entry at IFComp and I could use the feedback anyway, so here it is.

Review after the cut.

First: The disclaimer in the blurb about the nature of the story made me a bit wary about whether this would turn out to be really interactive fiction, and that wariness turned out to be entirely justified. There are merely two places where the reader is offered a choice – at one, one choice immediately ends the story, while at the second apparent choice both options actually lead to the character doing exactly the same thing. The rest of the story is a completely linear progression, with the same interactivity as turning pages in a paper book. While I do appreciate the author’s self-awareness that this is a non-branching story, I think she probably should have then decided to leave The Man Who Killed Time out of IF Comp.

The story did draw me in, though. I had trouble figuring out what was going on, but eventually a mystery seemed to be unfolding that I wanted to explore. The author sketches out a strangely beautiful universe and a complex backstory. I love a good time travel story, and I wanted to see how this one played out.

Unfortunately, right at the point that the protagonist seemed about to embark on an adventure to solve the mystery, the story instead ended! I was left hanging just as I started to feel like I was getting oriented in the universe of the story. I don’t know if the author ran out of time, or hadn’t decided what happened next, but it didn’t feel like a finished work at all. I was left feeling as if I’d read the prologue to what seemed like a promising novel, then had the novel swiped from my hands before I turned to Chapter 1.

The story also needs proofreading/editing from someone who speaks English more fluently. While the author’s English is very strong, and it’s clear that she’s a skilled visual writer –

He awoke with a start, tendrils of the dream still clasped to his mind, clouding his vision. When he came back to his present, he found himself, again, very far from everything he had used to know.

– she also sometimes uses words or phrases in ways that seem odd to me as a native English speaker. The punctuation and long sentences also sometimes made it hard for me to understand what she was trying to say.

Author, if you are reading this, I’d be happy to do a proofread and give you language feedback, especially if more of your story is in the works. Email me.

In short: intriguing start to a story, but not in my opinion a work of IF.

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