ARC review: Stolen Time (Dark Stars #1) by Danielle Rollins


Seattle, 1913 // Dorothy is trapped. Forced into an engagement to a wealthy man just so she and her mother can live comfortably for the rest of their days, she’ll do anything to escape. Including sneaking away from her wedding and bolting into the woods to disappear.

New Seattle, 2077 // Ash is on a mission. Rescue the professor—his mentor who figured out the secret to time travel—so together they can put things right in their devastated city. But searching for one man means endless jumps through time with no guarantee of success.

When Dorothy collides with Ash, she sees it as her chance to start fresh—she’ll stow away in his plane and begin a new life wherever they land. Then she wakes up in a future that’s been ripped apart by earthquakes and floods; where vicious gangs rule the submerged city streets and a small group of intrepid travelers from across time are fighting against the odds to return things to normal. What Dorothy doesn’t know is that she could hold the key to unraveling the past—and her arrival may spell Ash’s ultimate destruction.

Opening scene: A big high tech design lobby. A huge LED screen on the wall. Music blares from the commercial, sounding throughout the lobby.

“Welcome to New Seattle, the year 2077. After the tsunami destroyed half of our city, leaving all lower level buildings under water, we were left almost homeless. Now is the time to come together in the wake of that tragedy and help to create a better world. Join our Time Travellers’ Troops of the Western Territories (TTTWT), former USA, learn how to drive a time machine and be a part of our mission ‘Past is Our Future’. Be a hero, help us save humanity”

Music stops. The screen goes blank.

Day: December 17.
Interviewer: NASA specialist Agent Smith.

Agent Smith: *clears his throat* Name yourself, please.

Nastassja: Nastassja, TTWT, second in command.

Agent Smith: What do you think about that commercial?

Nastassja: Well, it sure does not express all of the fun, the time travel is.

Agent Smith: What do you mean?

Nastassja: I mean when they were recruiting us, nobody told us that we might see our death inside of the anil.

Agent Smith: Anil?

Nastassja: Yeah, pudget sound anil– a kind of wormhole that enables us to travel through time. It’s a hell of a ride to put it mildly.

Agent Smith: Why would you say that?

Nastassja: Because you can explode when you are inside the tunnel, or you can get a pre-memory, which is not fun at all.

Agent Smith: What is pre-memory?

Nastassja: It’s hard to explain… When you are inside the anil, all time exists at once: past, future and present. So if you are really unlucky you can get a memory of your death, which has not happened yet, but, as I said, time doesn’t care about your sensitivities. You pass out and have these vivid images of your death in all glorified horror, and every time you will get it more and more detailed until it finally happens.

Agent Smith: But what about changing the future? Or past?

Nastassja: Well, good luck with that. You think we haven’t tried it? We went to the past many times, tried to save people, but no matter how well prepared we are, reality bends in a way that prevents us from changing anything.

Agent Smith: Clarify.

Nastassja: For example, there’s a building, and you know there’s a person inside who is going to die soon. You want to get to that person, warn them and save them. But when you try to enter that building something always happens: somebody walks out and knocks you unconscious with the door. Or a brick falls on your head and knocks you out. Or sometimes you can’t even get to the building, because you are stuck in the traffic jam. *Shrugs* figure.

Agent Smith: You can’t save somebody, but what about killing someone?

Nastassja: Same. Have you heard of the Grandfather paradox? It’s a theory if you kill someone’s grandpa that person will not be born, thus it makes time travel quite a dangerous trip, right? Turns out, not so much. No matter how hard you try, reality will bend in a way to prevent you from killing anyone.

Agent Smith: So you are saying…

Nastassja: Yes, you cannot change the past.

Agent Smith: But then what is the purpose of time travel?

Nastassja: Well, we cannot change time, yet.

Agent Smith: Clarify.

Nastassja: You know that theory when you go to the past to do stuff, and then you come back and find out that the other you have actually made you do that stuff in the past. It’s classic. You are the reason and the consequence. A snake eating its own tale.

Agent Smith: That sounds confusing.

Nastassja: It is quite confusing, let alone dangerous. It might actually lead to the destruction of all time and matter.

Agent Smith: Are you serious?

Nastassja: How the heck would I know? Nobody knows because nobody had done that before. Right?

Agent Smith: Um, right?

Nastassja:*smiles into the camera lens* Welcome to the underwater cities, disappearing old ladies and cannibal girls.

Agent Smith: Huh?

We are not entirely sure what happened next was real. Nastassja ran to the window, broke the glass and jumped out. In a few seconds, she reappeared on top of a flying ship with an inscription on its side: Second Star. Before climbing inside the ship she, again, looked into the camera lens and said, “Join our Stolen Time team and we’ll have fun you’ve never known before. Think fast, it’s a limited offer that will expire on February 5th.” Then she disappeared inside the door and the ship took off into the sky.

–End of tape–

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