The Last Chronicler

Judy Johns Heathcoe

Book Cover

GENRE

SCI-FI HISTORICAL FICTION

    Core Theme

    GOOD VS EVIL

    TIME PERIOD

    Across Centuries

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    TIMELINE, DOCTOR WHO, 
TIMELESS, SLIDERS

    CHARACTER LIST

    • PETER LANG: 40S. LEAD. AMERICAN, THE LEADER OF A GROUP OF INTERNATIONAL ENGINEERS GATHERED TO INVESTIGATE STRANGE DISASTERS AFFECTING A PROJECT TO DIG A TUNNEL FOR A RAILWAY THROUGH THE URAL MOUNTAINS.

    • ALINA GORSKY: 40S. RUSSIAN WORKING ON THE TUNNEL PROJECT WHO ASSISTS PETER’S TEAM AND IS HIS OLD LOVE INTEREST.

    • BYRON MAGUS: 20S. RUSSIAN LEADER OF THE TIME TRAVELING HISTORIANS WHO BECOMES AN ENEMY TO PETER AND HIS TEAM. HE CHRONICLES THE ROMANOV FAMILY.

    • RACHEL ANDERSOHN: 20S. GERMAN HISTORIAN WHO WORKS WITH BYRON, AND QUITS AFTER SHE CHRONICLES VINCENT VAN GOGH.

    • BONNIE MAIER: 20S. RUSSIAN HISTORIAN WHO WORKS WITH BYRON, CHRONICLES EDGAR ALLEN POE.

    • IGOR KASLOV. 50S. RUSSIAN LEADER OF DIG TEAM WHO PROMPTS HIS COMPANY TO CALL PETER’S TEAM IN FOR HELP.

    Logline

    A team of engineers are trapped in a large, cavern containing a living rain forest and evidence of a secret historical society of time-travelers who called themselves chroniclers. Now the engineers are running for their lives from the murderous chroniclers and the primeval creatures of the forest.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+,13-17

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Russian Ural Mountains

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: WriteWords Inc.

    Year Published: 2016

    Starting Description

    Reminiscing. While building a tunnel in the Southern Urals, something goes wrong. The world’s most notable team of expert engineers are hired find out why. They uncover a breach in the wall, An explosion collapses the tunnel. They go through the breach and discover a rain forest inside the cavern.

    Ending Description

    The reminiscing from the beginning concludes at the end. Peter Lange is in a tree trying to escape the insane Chroniclers who have already killed the rest of his team and he is recording his story on a Chronicle device. He is the last chronicler.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978--1-61386-392-3

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Other

    Plot - Premise

    Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Peter Lange

    Age: 40's

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Confident,Decisive,Leader,Strong Moral Code,Romantic,Skillful,Masculine,Aspiring,Complex,Empathetic,Flexible,Heroic,Educated,Visionary,Outspoken,Selfless

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Alina Gorsky

    Age: late 30's early 40's

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Confident,Heroic,Romantic,Skillful,Aspiring,Complex,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Flexible,Educated,Outspoken

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Byron Magus

    Age: 20's

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Villainous,Secretive,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Leader,Criminal,Crazy,Adventurous,Aspiring,Aggressive,Complex,Decisive,Desperate,Educated,Insecure,Skillful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Igor Kaslov

    Age: 50*60

    Gender: Male

    Role: skeptic

    Key Traits: Confident,Leader,Educated,Skillful,Outspoken,Decisive,Adventurous,Aspiring

    Development Pitch

    A group of engineers stumble onto a large cavern with a living rain forest in it where they discover a secret society of historians who call themselves chroniclers with time-travel capabilities. In their library are chronicles of historic events on devices that can be recorded and reviewed.People love time travel stories. They are interested in historical events that are surrounded by mystery. And now I have ventured into that territory with my version, inspired by a book about my favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh, filled with letters, affidavits, police reports, doctor’s records, everything ever documented about him, however, I noticed many discrepancies and missing information. He didn't own a gun and none was ever found. I discovered other historical figures with absent information. Where was Poe when he went missing for a week before he was discovered near death? Did someone survive the execution of Tsar Nicholas and his family? An earthquake in Russia, got me into the chronicler library and I began to solve the mysteries surrounding the death of the three famous people. But also in the library are many more chronicles to be revealed, so sequels, if desired, are possible for a series.In the end, all but one of the engineers are killed by the chroniclers to protect their secret. Peter Lange knows that eventually they will find him and kill him too. He has one of the devices and records all that has happened in case someone comes looking for him. He's the last chronicler.

    Genre

    ROMANCE, DRAMA

    Brief

    A team of engineers stumble across a primeval jungle in the heart of the Ural Mountains where time stands still. Inside the cavern, they also uncover a society of historians who use the jungle’s strange gift to travel through time and chronicle the mysterious deaths of historical figures. The historians will do anything to keep their society a secret, putting the engineers in grave danger.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The logline and summary don’t accurately reflect the book at all. Part of the issue is that doing so would be confusing when attempting to pitch the book, as the multiple storylines have only weak connective tissue. The profile would do well to have a logline and summary that tells more of what the meat of the book is about: the Chroniclers’ trips into the past.

    Draw of Story

    It seems at first that the book will be some kind of monster story, with the strange disasters in the tunnel, and it begins a little spooky and compelling. Past that, the discovery of the cavern is also very interesting, though it’s similarly left in the dust. The time traveling into the lives of famous figures is also fascinating, and the information revealed within the “chronicles” is a new lens into historical mysteries.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The root of the book are the historians’ accounts of Van Gogh, Poe, and the Romanovs, and while those can be sort of connected to the historical society as a whole, they don’t connect to the broader location or the story of the tunnel at all. The frame story can be done away with entirely, focusing instead simply on the Chroniclers. They also don’t need to be in some mystical, prehistoric jungle that’s somehow inside of a mountain. They could have just found a normal cave with these properties, and even that explanation is unneeded as they could have just as easily created time travel secretly in a lab, which happens in a huge number of shows and movies. Limiting the locations — and the potential for CGI sabertooth tigers — will help with budget, too.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES HEAVILY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    Retelling some of history’s greatest mysteries is a fantastic hook. There are endless possibilities to explore, and these kinds of adventure stories have a lot of potential to be popular. This could be a blend of mystery, history, and romance, a sci-fi crime procedural.

    Fanbase Potential

    If the story were whittled down to just focusing on the historians, absolutely it could have a large fanbase. The core premise is easily visible as a show on the SyFy channel, where a group investigates and must solve a different mystery every week throughout history.

    Awards Potential

    Due to the genre, it’s unlikely this would have awards potential except for with niche science-fiction rankings and ceremonies.

    Envisioned Budget

    LARGE BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    TIMELINE, DOCTOR WHO, TIMELESS, SLIDERS

    What’s New About the Story

    The idea of following a number of famous historical figures in the last days of their lives to find out the truth about their mysterious deaths is very original and very fun. If this element were focused on, it would strengthen its uniqueness. Focusing on a wider range of figures throughout history would improve it greatly as well. Currently the three stories all focus on white men who die within a hundred years of one another. A broad scope of history and experience will widen the audience.

    Lead Characters

    The engineers are presented as the protagonists, but they’re completely nonessential to the vast majority of the book. They’re an unnecessary frame device that takes away from the historical fiction entirely. They’re barely in the book at all. The time travelers, the Chroniclers, are the real main characters here, but even their motivations fall flat. They all end up in love and/or sleeping with their subjects, which would undoubtedly influence history. They’re all hurt by how much pain their subjects faced in their lives, but that pain was well-documented and they knew about it going in. Of course it’s different to directly experience it, and the empathy that would inspire, but all three of the Chronicles end up being exactly the same, as do all the engineers. No one is very unique, and there’s no debate or conflict within the teams themselves, just between them. As a consequence, it feels like two separate entities (time travelers versus engineers) instead of individual characters.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The key feature of the time travelers uncovering the truth to history’s mysteries is fun and rare, and that element could be explored and expanded to great extent.

    Possible Formats

    TV Series - Network, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    A secret society of historians time traveling to different parts of history to form relationships with famous figures and uncover how they met their ends is a really interesting idea, and morbid to boot which works hand-in-hand with the current true crime obsession. Unfortunately, the rest of the book does not support this concept. The characters are lackluster and forgettable, and the plot is extremely confusing. Even when it focuses in on the three men studied by the Chroniclers, the pacing drags and the stories just don’t feel tight or fresh.

    Tips for Improvement

    Pulling out the kernel of a great idea and rebuilding a plot around the Chroniclers could be fantastic. The characters need to be stronger, with clear motivations and distinct personalities, and the plot has to be tighter and more logical.

    Brief

    A team of engineers stumble across a primeval jungle in the heart of the Ural Mountains where time stands still. Inside the cavern, they also uncover a society of historians who use the jungle’s strange gift to travel through time and chronicle the mysterious deaths of historical figures. The historians will do anything to keep their society a secret, putting the engineers in grave danger.

    What We Liked

    - A secret society of historians time traveling to different parts of history to form relationships with famous figures and uncover how they met their ends fits so well in the current media landscape as it has a little bit of everything. It dabbles in true crime, embraces science-fiction, and the stories themselves include personal drama and even romance. These are adventurers searching out new worlds in our own backyard, so to speak.
    - Film: The blend of genres is so engaging to such a huge swath of people, and depending on which angle is leaned into it could draw in different crowds at the box office. It also has the potential to be internationally successful, especially if it focused on countries that have large movie industries abroad, such as China. Well known historical figures, especially if from those international regions, translate well globally.
    - TV: There’s no shortage of material to be mined here. Human existence is full of historical figures that we’d love to sit down to dinner with, and there are just as many unsolved mysteries across the millennia. This is the sort of show that will run for several seasons as there could always be something new to uncover. The historical figures featured would all get their due as well in the show format, and some could easily be stretched over more than one episode. It could also be easy to cast cameos with A-list actors who want to play these figures, which would generate a larger fanbase.
    - Key points: Team of engineers is diverse; Multiple female leads; Potential for international audience; Cast of well-known historical characters; Could easily expand to cover more time periods.

    Synopsis

    PETER LANGE and his team of international engineers are called in to investigate all the accidents and deaths plaguing the construction of a tunnel through the Ural Mountains. An old flame, ALINA GORSKY, is on the project, and she, Peter, and his team follow a MYSTERIOUS WOMAN running deep into the tunnel. A cave-in traps them with no supplies and dwindling air. They find a cavern filled with prehistoric plants and animals, as well as a cabin that Peter and Alina investigate. Inside are hollow books filled with small computers. Alina picks one and plays it, revealing RACHEL ANDERSOHN giving her account to BYRON MAGUS. A member of a society called EHS, Rachel is sent by Byron to study the death of van Gogh and other mysteries surrounding the painter. Time doesn’t pass in the cavern and they were able to set up Relativity Chambers allowing them to travel through time.

    Rachel works at a brothel that van Gogh and fellow artist PAUL GAUGIN frequent, and van Gogh confides in her that Gaugin is regularly getting him drunk and raping him. Van Gogh and Gaugin have a fight which results in van Gogh’s ear being cut off, but Gaugin lies to the police and the story that van Gogh cut off his own ear spreads. Rachel goes forward a few years to try to prevent his suicide, but she can’t directly interfere and fails. Rachel is furious that she can only record history and not change it. She vows to destroy everything at EHS. Peter and Alina choose another Chronicle to read. BONNIE MAIER is sent to be Edgar Allen Poe’s Chronicler, and Byron warns her not to get too attached so as to not be driven mad like Rachel.

    Bonnie investigates Poe’s mysterious death, and she realizes that Poe has undiagnosed tuberculosis that ravaged his central nervous system due to a head injury. The week prior to his death, Poe was reported missing according to historical record. One of the predominant theories for Poe’s death, as he was found in someone else’s clothes outside a bar-cum-voting spot, is that he was “cooped.” This process involved forcing a kidnapped participant to vote several times as a form of election fraud.

    Bonnie befriends Poe and is with him when he trips and hits his head in an alley, passing out. Byron removes her physically from the scene so she can only watch. A HOMELESS MAN trades his own clothes with the unconscious Poe’s, and Poe is found by two IRISHMEN who hold Poe below the voting bar for a week. Poe’s cousin, NEILSON POE, is involved with the cooping ring, and he’s horrified to learn they’ve jailed Poe. Afraid of being found out, Neilson has them leave Poe outside the bar so that history remembers him as a mad drunkard. This doesn’t explain Bonnie’s head injury theory, so she goes back even further. She sees that when Poe was merely two, his FATHER threw him into the wall in a fit of rage. Bonnie is disenchanted with EHS and goes to look for Rachel to help her.

    “The Life of Nicholas Romanov II” won’t play for Alina and Peter, and Byron himself walks into the cabin. He tells them that he’s not allowed to Chronicle Nicholas’s life as it could cause political problems. EHS, or the Empirical Society of Historians, has a goal to record accurate history and learn from it. Time traveling to the Russian Revolution, Byron poses as a soldier who guarded the Romanov family after they were forced to abdicate the throne. Byron becomes infatuated with Princess Anastasia and helps her escape Russia. They live happily for a year until they’re discovered by soldiers and Byron is shot. He “dies” and another woman gifts her identity to Anastasia, knowing who she is. Byron finishes his tale, and Bonnie and Rachel come in. They’ve killed the rest of the engineering team and destroyed the Chambers, but still can’t let them go knowing about EHS. They’ve been sabotaging the tunnel the whole time to keep the cavern from being discovered. Peter and Alina run, and Alina is killed. Peter Chronicles his own experience of finding the cabin and hiding in the jungle.

    About The Author

    Judy Johns Heathcoe is an artist, writer, and musician, and has published several articles, poems, and short stories online under the name JD Heathcoe. Other than novels, stories, and poems, she writes songs and plays. She currently lives in Anniston, Alabama.