Time Fighters: The Black Cradle Adventure: Prologue Part 1: Tokyo And After The Apocalypse by Michael Ely and M. Christopher Shioya (ebook review)

‘Time Fighters’ is an episodic book released as a prequel to the mobile game ‘Black Cradle’ which is currently in development in Japan. So far only part 1 of this series is available but, after reading it, I’m certainly curious about what’s coming next.


Split between present day and the year 2112, after an apocalypse has destroyed much of Earth as we know it, ‘Time Fighters’ follows Brian, a time traveller trying to track down and kill fellow traveller Victor. Leaping through time portals desperately trying to follow Victor’s trail, Brian must learn to adapt quickly if he’s to survive. If he can’t keep up, the future of humanity is doomed.

This is a fast-paced little book, packing a whole lot of action into its 84 pages and providing an exciting introduction to the world of ‘Black Cradle’. We’re given a good insight into Brian, who has been extensively trained for his fighting role, reliant on his handler, Sophie, to provide him with instructions as he proceeds. She’s the tech wizard who identifies the locations of enemies, calculates his routes and helps him to survive against much bigger groups of enemies. In 2112, she was also his lover, but in 2015 she’s ‘ghosting’, her consciousness moving between bodies, able to help him only as long as she retains control of her latest host. It’s a set-up that works and it reminds me of ‘Quantum Leap’ at times with Brian leaping through time to save the world and his trusty sidekick appearing when she can.

I can also see how this would work really well as a video game. We’ve got time portals to other eras/game levels, quests, plenty of enemies to fight at every turn and different locals prepared to help Brian as he arrives in new time periods and locations. It should be a lot of fun if it’s executed well.

But does it work as a book or is it just a gimmick to get people talking about the game? Well, I actually think it’s a pretty good story they’ve got going here with good characters and a coherent plot that we only just start to unpick in this first instalment. My only complaint is that it really is just a prologue. It sets things up but stops before we really get into the story. I don’t think I’m ever going to be a fan of the episodic novel because I like to get stuck in and instalments of this length (84 pages according to Amazon, 63 pages of A4 in the pdf preview copy I had) just don’t give me enough to get really sucked into the story. However, I know that this format does work for some people, and it seems to be becoming increasingly popular, so if you do like this style then I’d certainly recommend this one.

There’s no mention of release dates for the next instalments yet but I’d be keen to see where they take this story and indeed how they tie it in to the game world they’re developing. This will be an interesting project to follow and to kick it all off they’ve provided an enjoyable, action-packed read if you’ve an hour or so to spare.

Vinca Russell

October 2015

(pub: PG Universe, Inc 84 pages ebook. File Size: 257kB. Price: £0.99 (UK). ASIN: B011Y0LAKI)

check out websites: http://pguniverse.co.jp/  and www.amazon.com/dp/B011Y0LAKI

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