Thesis Title

StarSung: A Timeslip Novel

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Graduation Year


Writing Track



Master of Fine Arts


Creative Writing

Program Director

Judy Halebsky, PhD

First Reader

Kim Culbertson, MFA

Second Reader

Judy Halebsky, PhD


StarSung is an ambitious timeslip speculative fiction novel, slipping back and forth

between the present and ancient times. Several modern women independently experience an out- of-time incident, feeling as if they had just barely survived a genocidal event in the distant past.

The unifying agent of StarSung is a mysterious music score. The novel begins at a Christmas concert for SETI scientists, where a string quartet premiers newly transcribed music, Promptu Familiaris by Anonymous. During the performance, the main character Marian, a viola superstar, experiences the first timeslip, finding herself briefly in the body of a young girl witnessing a terrifying attack in a burning cathedral. Too shaken to play her exquisite viola, Grif, she and her manager and best friend cellist Julian, work to unravel her vivid vision. Marian’s description seems to recount an actual event, a Medieval massacre thought to have extinguished an ancient tribe. Yet Marian’s girl survived. A recording of the concert is leaked on the college DJ circuit, prompting a few other women to experience their own timeslip, one to ancient Egypt, another to Roman Gaul, a third to pre-contact North America, a fourth to the Qin Empire in China. They follow the music back to Marian and work to unravel the mystery together. With Julian’s research, it emerges that the consciousness of the only survivor in a mitochondrial genetic lineage had somehow slipped into each modern woman and released her unique inheritance. How does this otherworldly music activate a memory from the past at a pivotal point in history? Why were these last survivors evoked now? What is their mission together? What is the true message of the StarSung music?

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