Just so you know, I suck at plot summaries. My recaps are usually half the length of the book itself and cause massive bleeding from the eyes. They’re also painfully boring to write.

After struggling for days on a traditional synopsis, I finally gave up and created this illustrated primer instead. It’s goofy as hell, but it covers all the major beats of The Flight of the Silvers. I also got to play with stick figures, which is every author’s secret dream.

This page is solely intended for people who’ve read The Flight of the Silvers and are looking for a plot refresher. If you’re new to the book and don’t want the story spoiled, do not proceed. There’s all kinds of spoilage ahead.

With that out of the way, let’s get started.


Okay, so this is Earth. I mean our Earth: the one with Star Wars and Pepsi and Matthew McConaughey. Everything was going just the way you remember it…

…until the morning of Saturday, July 24, when something weird happened. First the power went out all over the planet. Then the temperature dropped and a thick mist formed in the upper atmosphere.

Then at 9:44, Pacific time, the sky came down in a sheet of hard white force. In less than a minute, our entire world was destroyed—everything we knew and loved, plus Matthew McConaughey.


“But how did it happen?” you ask.

That’ll all be explained in The Song of the Orphans. Safe to say that it has something to do with these three jerks: the Pelletiers.

You remember them. Azral’s the one with the chalk-white hair and robotic demeanor. Esis is his mom, though she looks ten years younger than him. (She’s also nuts.) Semerjean’s the dad, but he’s on special assignment. You barely even see him in The Flight of the Silvers.

Anyway, the Pelletiers are from a distant alternate future and they’re the meanest French-Canadians you’ll ever meet. They’ve got timebending powers up the wazoo. They also have a very strong interest in the people of our world.

Well, some of them.


Shortly before the apocalypse began, the Pelletiers approached 99 people in ten different cities and forced mysterious bracelets onto their wrists. The ones in Seattle got plain copper trinkets. The folks in New York received bands of pure gold.

For six hapless souls in the city of San Diego…well, you know what they got.


These are the Silvers:

  • Hannah Given: a struggling young actress and serial monogamist
  • Amanda Given: Hannah’s older sister, a cancer nurse and liberal Catholic
  • Zack Trillinger: underemployed cartoonist from Brooklyn
  • Mia Farisi: 14-year-old bookworm
  • David Dormer: 16-year-old Australian boy wonder
  • Theo Maranan: burned-out prodigy and recovering alcoholic

The Pelletiers chose three other people from the San Diego area, but two of them die within minutes of arriving on the new world. The third one goes his own way. His name’s Evan Rander. He has issues.

But hang on. I’m getting ahead of myself.


As the sky came down on their native Earth, the Silvers’ new bracelets created an impenetrable forcefield around them. All they could do was stand there and watch as everyone around them died a quick, screaming death.

After a few long seconds of bright white nothingness, our heroes looked around and suddenly found themselves…elsewhere. Another world. A different Earth.


All right, let’s talk about that world for a minute, because it’s kind of important to the plot. For most of its life, the parallel Earth was exactly like ours: same people, same cultures, same historical ups and downs.

But then on October 5, 1912, a burst of mysterious white energy destroyed half of New York City, killing 1.9 million people. Two percent of the country’s population, all gone in a flash.

It quickly became known as the Cataclysm, and it changed the whole world overnight.

In the wake of the tragedy, the United States became an isolationist nation. The borders were closed. Immigrants were rounded up and deported. Autocratic presidents used fear and disinformation to keep people in line, and…okay, I’ll stop with the pointed commentary. Just know that it was bad.

Though no one ever figured out the cause of the Cataclysm, scientists were able to harness its energy and use it to bend the very fabric of time. The Temporal Revolution of the 1950s was a nonstop wowfest. Every week seemed to bring another mind-blowing invention to the world.

Today, temporal manipulation is a part of daily life. Rejuvenators restore your spoiled food to freshness while tempic force barriers protect your most cherished valuables. Ghost drills recreate the past as holograms. Shifters can make anyone slow down time, allowing them to squeeze more hours into their day. Cars, trains, even restaurants float through the sky on a powerful force called aeris. There are flying saucers over every city, and they all serve brunch on weekends.

But for all its advanced technology, American culture has been stunted by nearly a hundred years of isolationism. Their attitudes are provincial. Their ignorance is loud. And their movies are terrible, like eye-gougingly bad. The best thing you can say about them is that they’re a peaceful nation. While the British and Chinese fight for world domination, America stays in its own quiet bubble.

Oh, and cigarettes are illegal there. So they have that going for them, which is nice.

 


Anyway, back to the Silvers.

Scattered and confused, our six protagonists bumble helplessly around this alternate San Diego, with its flying cars and energy barriers. Everything’s different here, and not just “Canada different.” It’s all very traumatic.

Soon, each Silver is approached by friendly representatives from a local science collective: 22 temporal physicists, all working together for the common good.

Amazingly, these eggheads were expecting our heroes, and knew exactly where to find them. They convince each one to accompany them back to their research facility in the nearby town of Terra Vista.

There, in that badly-drawn building you see to the right, the sisters are reunited and the rest of the Silvers finally meet each other. The lead physicist, Sterling Quint, assures them all that they’re in good hands here.

The name of his organization, by the way, is the Pelletier Group. Yeah, that’s right. Quint’s working for the very same people who brought the Silvers to this world.

 


Still shaken from their ordeal, our protagonists spend the next few weeks recovering in the Pelletier facility. They slowly get to know each other while being poked and prodded by Dr. Quint’s scientists.

But there are two new problems. First, the Silvers are beginning to manifest supernatural abilities, most of which mimic the temporal technology of this world. Hannah can slow down time and move faster than everyone around her. Zack can advance or reverse the chronology of small objects. David can recreate the past in the form of sound and light. Amanda can generate tempis, the same hard white force that rained down on her homeworld.

The scientists are particularly amazed by Mia’s ability, something no machine can do. Through little floating time portals, she receives handwritten messages from her future selves. Some of the notes contain crucial information. Others, not so much.

Only Theo fails to demonstrate any paranormal ability…at least not any they can see. He can’t shake the feeling of impending danger, like something bad is coming for him and his friends.

That brings us to Problem #2: the Gothams.


Our heroes aren’t the only ones with temporal powers. There are eleven hundred chronokinetics living in the suburbs of New York: a secret society of timebending superpeople.

Unlike the Silvers, the Gothams are all natives of this world. They inherited their abilities from their grandparents and great-grandparents, who were all infants in utero when the Cataclysm mutated them.

To the general public, the Gothams are just a silly myth, like UFOs and honest politicians. But they’ve been living among us for nearly a hundred years, and now they have a problem.

On July 24, the same day the Silvers crashed into this world, the precognitive Gothams starting getting the same awful vision. It seemed the hard white apocalypse that had claimed one Earth was now coming for this one. They all have less than five years to live.

While the rest of humanity remains oblivious to the threat, the Gothams are sweating buckets. One of their precogs, a musclebound brute named Rebel Rosen, gets a desperate idea. The only way to save the Earth, he reasons, is to kill all those freaks from another world: the Pelletiers and their 99 pets. The whole mess started with their arrival. Maybe it’ll end with their departure.

So Rebel grabs his .44 and assembles a team of his clan’s fiercest warriors. Their first target: the Silvers.


On the 6th of September, in the wee hours of morning, the Gothams invade the Pelletier compound and launch a deadly attack against our heroes.

A big fight ensues. Theo gets hurt. Hannah almost loses her head. Zack rots Rebel’s hand with his temporal power. Yuck.

Just as the Silvers escape in one of Sterling Quint’s vans, Azral and Esis arrive and lay a major smackdown on the Gothams.

Only Rebel and two of his teammates escape the carnage. They are:

  • Ivy Sunder: Rebel’s pregnant wife, a teleporter who can draw spatial warp portals on any flat surface.
  • Gemma Sunder: Ivy’s 10-year-old niece, who has the power to send her consciousness back in time. She doesn’t just see the future. She lives it one minute at a time.

Remember these people well, because they all have major roles to play in The Song of the Orphans.


So the Silvers hit the road in a commandeered van, but they’re not safe yet. They run afoul of the local police, who run afoul of Amanda’s tempic fist.

This is just the start of our heroes’ government problem.

The day goes even worse for Sterling Quint and his physicists. Realizing that they’re no longer vital to their interests, Azral and Esis kill them all with a press of a button. Quint himself gets dropped like a ghost through the crust of the Earth.

Didn’t I tell you the Pelletiers were mean?


In any case, the Silvers are out in the open world, with no money, no plan, no contacts, nada. They’re stuck on their own in a foreign America, with both the law and the Gothams on their tail.

That night, Mia receives a handwritten letter through a portal, but it’s not from her future self this time. It’s from a man named Peter Pendergen: a Gotham.

Unlike Rebel and the rest of his clan, Peter doesn’t believe the Silvers are a threat to this world. Quite the opposite. He thinks they’re the key to stopping the hell that’s coming, one of the group in particular.

So Peter sends Mia some much-needed cash and urges her to bring her friends to Brooklyn. There, he can give them all safety and shelter, and answer many of their burning questions.

Though Zack and Amanda fear it’s a trap, David convinces them that it’s their only sane option. The group anxiously begins their long journey east.


Okay, here’s where I start to really condense. Otherwise, I’ll need a whole new web server just to host this recap page.

The Silvers spend many, many pages crossing Altamerica, a difficult trip thanks to two new adversaries.

First is DP-9, an elite division of the nation’s top law enforcement agency. They’re the ones who handle the felonious misuse of temporal technology, a.k.a. the time crimes.

After Amanda’s violent run-in with police, a DP-9 unit arrives to investigate. They replay the attack in their temporal ghost drills and are shocked to see Amanda’s paranormal ability in action. She’s an entirely new kind of threat, which makes finding her and her friends a top priority.

Leading the chase is Melissa Masaad, a Sudanese immigrant and former British Intelligence analyst. Though her small-minded colleagues don’t think much of her, being the black female foreigner that she is, Melissa’s the best agent in DP-9. She’s brilliant, adaptive, and a little bit strange, which makes her the perfect person to hunt the Silvers.


And, of course, there’s Evan Rander. Oh boy. Where do I start with this guy?

He’s the black sheep of the Silvers, an embittered nerd with an extraordinary power. Like Gemma Sunder of the Gothams, Evan has the ability to send his consciousness back in time, a temporal rewind that allows him to undo past mistakes and change history to his advantage.

Sadly for him, the past will only bend so far. Through the limits of his talent, he’s been living the same five years over and over, trapped between one world’s apocalypse and the other’s.

This is now his 55th trip through the same chain of events, and the loop is driving him crazy. The only thing that gives him pleasure these days is tormenting the people who’ve hurt and insulted him in previous timelines. He detests his fellow Silvers, Hannah most of all.

The Silvers of this timeline don’t know anything about Evan, but he remembers them. He knows their fears and weaknesses, and exploits them for his amusement. He’s their Joker, their Gollum, and their Hannibal Lecter rolled up into one. And he’s becoming increasingly unhinged.


So over the next four weeks and fifteen chapters, the Silvers forge a chaotic path across the country. A whole mess of stuff happens along the way:

  • Theo leaves the group in the middle of the night with the express intent of drinking himself to death. It’s only after a dark premonition and a tense encounter with Evan Rander that he rushes back to his companions. He gets them out of their motel just minutes before DP-9 can get the drop on them.
  • The Silvers finds a van and a satchel of cash just waiting for them in the woods. Amanda doesn’t think they could possibly be that lucky, and suspects that the Pelletiers are gently pushing them toward Peter Pendergen. She’s right.
  • Evan spikes Hannah and Amanda’s drinks with a powerful narcotic, triggering a superpowered slap fight that nearly kills Hannah. The group once again makes a narrow escape before DP-9 can apprehend them.
  • Zack learns from Evan that his brother, Josh Trillinger, got a golden bracelet from the Pelletiers and is alive in New York. Or was, to be precise. The Gothams attacked the Golds last week and managed to kill all but two of them. Sadly for Zack, his brother wasn’t one of the ones who got away.
  • DP-9 finally gets lucky and captures Amanda and Theo. While Melissa interrogates them in a West Virginia field office, the other four Silvers stage a bold rescue. The group is reunited, but a tactical mistake costs David two of his fingers. His pain and fury trigger a long-overdue meltdown for the boy, who’s been pretty much unflappable for most of the book.

All of these events lead to new developments in The Song of the Orphans—some minor, some not so minor.


Also, if you recall, a few of our protagonists meet Ioni, a quirky young blonde with two watches on her wrist. Though she’s not affiliated with any of the Silvers’ enemies, she offers prescient information that hurts the group just as much as it helps them. Her advice saves Theo’s life, but it also gets him and Amanda captured by DP-9.

Is Ioni a friend? A foe? Time will tell. All I can say is that the girl with two watches has a huge role to play in events to come.


One more thing before I get to the finale. Between all the bam! and the pow! and the pew pew pew!, our heroes have been embarking on a deep emotional journey. The strain’s really starting to take its toll on them, as you can see from this dramatic closeup of Hannah.

And who can blame them? The Silvers were just ordinary people on the old world. Now they’re fighting to survive on an Earth they barely understand. Everything about their lives has changed, even their own physiology. And the universe keeps going out of its way to remind them that they can all die horribly at any minute.

Given all that, and their tight proximity, it’s only natural that some of the Silvers might develop crazy, ill-timed feelings for each other. Mia gets a monster crush on David. Zack and Amanda share an uncomfortable attraction. Hannah and Theo have a “carpe diem” love fling in Indiana, though their desperate attempt at stress relief quickly backfires on both of them.

It’s okay. They end the book as good friends.

As for the David/Mia and Zack/Amanda subplots, they both continue in The Song of the Orphans. Two important facts to remember:

  • David’s a hard kid to read. It’s unclear if he knows or shares Mia’s feelings for him. More frustrating for Mia, her future selves have nothing to say on the matter. They seem almost deliberately determined to keep her in the dark.
  • When Esis first gave Amanda her silver bracelet, she specifically warned her not to “entwine” with Zack. Nobody knows why the Pelletiers give a crap about Zack and Amanda’s love life, or what they plan to do about it.

Holy crap, this book is complex. Let’s get to the ending.


So, after many days of angst and travel, the Silvers finally reach New York, the altiest of Altamerica. Nearly the whole damn city has been rebuilt since the Cataclysm. Even Zack, the native New Yorker in the group, doesn’t recognize a thing.

Stranger still, the place is a ghost town. All the stores are closed. Barely anyone’s on the streets. By sheer happenstance, the Silvers have arrived on the fifth of October, the anniversary of the Cataclysm. Most of the locals have gathered along Fifth Avenue to watch the Commemoration Day parade.

After catching a bit of the grim procession, the Silvers find a working payphone. Mia speaks with Peter for the first time, and he gives her an address in Battery Park.

At long last, our heroes are about to meet the man they’d crossed an entire nation to see.


They head to southern part of Manhattan, to a twelve-story office building that, like everything else in the city, is closed for the holiday.

But the tempic barriers automatically open for the Silvers, and they proceed inside the eerily-quiet building.

There in the lobby, on a long leather couch, sits a tall and strapping Irishman in his mid-to-late 30s.

He introduces himself as Peter Pendergen. The problem is, he’s not.


Yeah, that’s right. The Gothams are back, and they led the Silvers right into a trap.

If it wasn’t for Amanda and David’s quick defensive work, our heroes would have been killed on the spot. Instead, the mother of all battles begins.

I could go on for pages about the fustercluck that takes place inside that office building. (And in fact, I once did.) For now, let’s just say that the next four chapters aren’t very pleasant for the Silvers. All their enemies and frenemies converge in one place—the Gothams, the Deps, the Pelletiers, Evan Rander.

It’s an epic mess, but the Silvers abide. They’re not the newbies they were at the beginning at the book. They’ve learned how to control their special abilities, and they know how to work together now. Hannah and Amanda, who were never the closest of sisters, do a particularly goob job with the cooperative ass-kicking.

But there’s only so much they can do, and the situation goes south fast. Evan captures Hannah. A Gotham breaks Amanda’s leg. Zack and David are pinned down in separate parts of the building. And Mia takes a bullet to the chest.

And Theo? Well, this is the part where things get weird.

 


For most of the book, Theo’s been getting little glimpses of the future here and there. But now, in the heat of battle, he discovers his true power: the ability to travel to an otherworldly realm called the God’s Eye.

There, in the cold gray margins of time, Theo doesn’t just see one future. He sees all of them—every branching string of possibility. Time was never a single line. It’s a vast and open landscape. The past? The future? These are just navigational markers for our limited perceptions. But it’s all laid bare in the God’s Eye, and Theo can barely handle what he sees.

With the unpleasant help of Azral Pelletier, Theo discovers a rare and happy future where all of his friends survive the day. There is a way out of this mess. All Theo has to do is study this future and see what went right.

Incidentally, the image on the right isn’t mine. It was done by Susie Hancock, an extremely talented illustrator and one of my earliest reader friends. Click the picture for a larger version, and check out Susie’s website for more amazing artwork.


Theo returns to the present and uses his newfound knowledge to help Zack heal Mia. He then leads David, Zack, and Mia to safety through an underground steam tunnel.

But there’s not much he can do for Hannah and Amanda, who are trapped on the fifth floor with their least favorite psycho stalker. Luckily, Hannah provokes Evan into making a strategic blunder, one that puts him on the wrong side of the Pelletiers. Their huge tempic hand drags him screaming into a portal, and that’s the last we see of Evan Rander…

…for now.

Meanwhile, in a nearby alley, the other four Silvers meet the real Peter Pendergen. He’s come to pick them up in flying van—a fortunate choice, as Melissa Masaad has chased Hannah and Amanda to the roof of the office building.

A well-timed rescue, a quick aerial car chase, and the Silvers escape again. Theo got the future he wanted, but the day’s not over. There’s one last bit of bad news coming.


Peter takes our protagonists to the Greenpoint district of Brooklyn, just a few hundred yards from the epicenter of the Cataclysm. There on the north side, on a tree-lined street of four-story brownstones, he introduces the Silvers to their new home and hideout.

The image on the right is just a stylized photo. I didn’t feel like drawing brownstones.


The Silvers barely have a chance to relax before Peter tells them what his people have known for weeks. The sky’s coming down in less than five years, and only the Pelletiers are getting out alive. For everyone else, it’s the end of the line. There won’t be any bracelets handed out next time.

But hope isn’t lost, according to Peter. A few weeks back, an ischemic stroke threw him into a brief coma. While he was out, his mind stumbled into the God’s Eye.

There, he saw trillions of futures all ending at once, a great white wall of severed timelines. It was the most terrible thing he’d ever laid eyes on—the screaming deaths of countless Earths, billions of lives on each one.

But then Peter glimpsed something he’d never forget: a lone string of light extending from the wall, a single glorious timeline where life continues. The apocalypse isn’t a dead-set certainty. Somewhere in that sea of futures, someone manages to save the world.

Sadly, Peter woke up before he could examine the string up close, but he knows it exists, and Theo’s the one who will find it. He’s the only timebender on Earth who can enter the God’s Eye willingly, which more or less makes him the messiah. All Theo has to do is study that future to see what went right. From there, it’ll be everyone’s responsibility to make sure that the one good future is the one that happens.

Naturally, Hannah and the others are skeptical of Peter’s optimism. One good future out of trillions of bad ones? Those don’t seem like very good odds.

“One is all we need,” Peter says. He promises the Silvers that, with their help, life will go on. What happened to their world won’t happen here.


And that’s where we leave our heroes, dear reader. But as with all first books in a series, there’s still much to be resolved. The Silvers are still being hunted by Rebel and the Gothams, and their government problem is about to get worse.

After DP-9’s latest failure, the case is handed over to the National Integrity Commission: the CIA of Altamerica. If you read the prologue excerpt of The Song of the Orphans, then you already met the new leader of the manhunt. He’s not as nice as Melissa Masaad, and he doesn’t give a damn about the Silvers’ human rights.

And then of course there are the Pelletiers, the ones who started this mess in the first place. They went out of their way to bring 99 people from one Earth to another. They must have had a damn good reason for doing it. What do they want with the Silvers and the others, and how are they planning to get it?

The answer’s coming in The Song of the Orphans. And when the Silvers learn the awful truth, everything will change.


And I mean everything.

All righty. Assuming you didn’t speed-scroll to the bottom, you should be amply reacquainted with the plot of The Flight of the Silvers. If you’re looking to brush up on some of the book’s minutia, you should check out the character cheat sheet and the Altamerican glossary. That should give you everything you need to dive headfirst into the sequel.

If you have any questions about this recap, or if you just want to praise my phenomenal art skills, feel free to contact me.