A SCI-FI PARANORMAL THRILLER
Two periods of time clash with an alternative universe in Time Framed. This compelling sci-fi paranormal thriller pits family members against each other across generations as they attempt to evade the dire consequences of a menacing family curse. Dating back to the Mayflower, the curse had its origin as family patriarch, Charles Pennfield, threatened a poor servant girl. His threats eventually caused her to leap to her death off the Cape Cod coast. Now her unsettled spirit ebbs and flows, surfacing every sixty to eighty years to exact justice as she inhabits a living agent and forces them to crush the greatest ambitions of whatever unlucky Pennfield crosses her path.
Time Framed begins on a brisk winter night in 1963. Seven-year-old Arthur Shipkin “Shippy” Pennfield rushes outside to play with his cousins during a family Christmas party. Unable to keep up with his bigger and faster playmates, he consoles himself by walking out onto a small rickety dock behind the house. He looks up and sees a strange glow in the sky. From that point on, he is afflicted with a mysterious trance-like condition requiring lifelong institutionalization.
In 1996, Shippy’s older relative, Professor Christopher Pennfield, twenty years his senior, becomes his generation’s victim of the vicious Pennfield family curse. Unbeknownst to him, his pregnant research assistant, a contemporary surrogate for the servant girl from centuries before, commits a highly-public suicide in Grand Central Station, continuing the family curse. Professor Pennfield immediately flees for a family estate in Maine, wasting away in grief, guilt, denial, and addiction. During his exile, he is visited by the spirit of his cousin, Ophie, , who reveals crucial truths about Shippy’s paternity, and pleads with the ostracized professor to find a way to help the boy.
But how can he help him if Shippy is institutionalized, trapped in a mysterious, unexplained trance?
Professor Christopher Pennfield
In his prime, Professor Christopher Pennfield swaggered through life. Impeccably groomed, he could charm anyone he pleased with his quick wit, refined demeanor and unbridled confidence. A considerably vain man, Pennfield had a sculpted jaw and cheekbones, sparkling teeth, perfectly tweezed eyebrows and his full shock of silver hair.
Arthur Shipkin “Shippy” Pennfield
A child prodigy, Shippy Pennfield had mastered French, Geometry and Algebra by the second grade. He was widely regarded as one of the most gifted prodigies ever of the prestigious Pennfield family, though at 7 years old, Shippy was as vulnerable and meek as he was prodigious.
Ophelia Pennfield, a child of privilege, definitely had her quirks, a set of indulgences most ordinary folk could never imagine. An Aquarius, she would visit her astrologer twice a week— more when the situation warranted— never undertaking a major venture nor finalizing a critical decision without first consulting Miss Felicia.
“…the author ably leads readers through the multiple storylines…generating an unhurried but absorbing pace.”
Two members of a family—from different time periods—use psychic abilities to manipulate past events but with conflicting purposes in Chiocchi’s sci-fi tale.
There’s a curse in the Pennfield family. Certainly, college professor Chris believes so, partially blaming his alcoholism and philandering ways on a ghost’s centuries long vendetta against the Pennfields. In 2007, he writes a letter for future descendants, warning them of the curse and convincing Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield in 2052 that he himself is cursed. Chris and Jimmy, like other Pennfield men throughout the years, have experienced “unexplained psychic incidents,” namely seeing apparitions. Chris, however, uses his psychic ability to peek back at 1963, looking for a way to explain his relative’s—then–7-year-old Shippy—catatonic state and consequent institutionalization. Chris surmises it’s curse-related. Jimmy has a similar idea, only he hopes to alter the past to keep Shippy out of the sanatorium, theorizing that Shippy will be cursed later, which will, theoretically, reset events and allow Jimmy to save his own skin.
Chris’ vivid dream afterward shows him the altered past, and believing Shippy is now unquestionably cursed, he returns to ’63 to undo the change. He and his scientist pals, rightly presuming they’re up against a future Pennfield, may soon have to rescue Shippy from a fate worse than institutionalization. The novel is just as complicated as it sounds, but the author ably leads readers through the multiple storylines. He structures the narrative using two time periods—Chris in 2007 and Jimmy in 2052—generating an unhurried but absorbing pace. Jimmy’s selfish motive makes him an unequivocal villain, but there are a few twists, including a surprise relationship and curious backdrops, like the future world ruled by a series of “virtual governments.” Each time Shippy’s fate changes, the plot is harder to follow, but explanations and subsequent resolutions are logical.
An atypical time-travel story as dense as it is fascinating.