Tane Williams is a fourteen year-old boy with aspirations of becoming a Science-Fiction writer, much to his best friend Rebecca's amusement. Rebecca dismisses most of his story ideas as too far-fetched or unrealistic, including his theories on time-travelling forward. Not disheartened in the slightest Tane continues to argue with her until she admits that it might just be possible for messages to be sent backwards through time.
The idea becomes a sort of joke between them, which steadily grows until they visit the local university to retrieve some data and scan it for messages. To their delight, the two discover they were right - Earth has been receiving messages from the future for some time without knowing it. Amongst them, they find a message from their future selves with the winning lottery tickets... and a cryptic SOS message, warning them that unless something called the Chimera Project is stopped the human race will cease to exist.
This book provides examples of:
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: In the end, Rebecca hooks up with Tane instead of his brother Fatboy.
- Book-Ends: The first chapter of the book is almost identical to the last.
- Butterfly of Doom: Subverted, despite the discussion of the Grandfather Paradox. There are no repercussions after Tane and Rebecca send themselves the winning lottery numbers.
- Contest Winner Cameo: The real-life Rebecca Richards and Gemma Shaw both won one of the author's contests (note, however, that only the names are used), and the real-life Lucy Southwell's father placed the highest bid at a charity auction winning her a cameo.
- Cool Bike: Fatboy owns... well, a Harley Davidson Fatboy.
- Cosy Catastrophe: The back-up plan is to hide out in the submarine as the world above perishes. And that's exactly what they do.
- Downer Ending: Subverted. Whilst it's implied that everyone but Tane and Rebecca die by the end of the book, the Reset Button Ending takes care of that.
- Fog of Doom: The chosen form of The Plague.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The Chimera Project.
- Grandfather Paradox: No-one but Rebecca seems to understand the concept.
- Green Aesop: Several. Justified, since Rebecca is an evironmental activist.
- Reset Button Ending: Tane and Rebecca decide to change the messages that they send back in time, thus undoing all their work and taking them back to where they began.
- Hope Spot: Salt Water destroys the machrophages and prevents them from being reformed. Unfortunately, the heroes learn that far too late
- Humans Are Bastards: Rebecca views us all as a plague on the earth. Lovely.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Happens frequently to minor characters, as well as an entire army who were in the middle of singing a hymn.
- The Plague: Inverted. It's macrophages (antibodies visible without needing microscope) that's destroying the humans.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The main premise.
- Write Back to the Future: Inverted. Future Tane and Rebecca write to the past.