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wot I red on my hols by alan robson (Sesquipedalianissimus)


Teaching is not normally regarded as a hazardous profession and the wearing of hard hats in the classroom is seldom compulsory. I feel that this may perhaps be an oversight on the part of the authorities in charge of the rules.

There I was, in full pontificate mode in front of the class, waving my arms about and discoursing eloquently on this and that, when I noticed a look of (as it were) existential dread begin to creep over the faces of those few students who were still awake.

"Look out!" one of them called.

"?" I thought to myself.

WALLOP! The whiteboard fell off the wall and landed on my head. I staggered forwards under the weight of it, and several people rushed to my aid. Some supported the board and moved it out of the way; some supported me and led me to a chair. All were most concerned.

"Are you all right?"

This question has always struck me as an extremely odd one. There you are, at the scene of a major catastrophe. The victim is bleeding all over the landscape and several major body parts are scattered around. You rush over to help.

"Are you all right?"

Do you really expect to receive the reply, "Yes, perfect, never felt better in my life. Bundle of fluffy ducks. I think I’ll just toddle off down the road to the pub and throw a party to celebrate the occasion."

I sat in my chair and trembled. Shock was the general diagnosis.

"Put up his blood sugar levels, calm him down, speak soothingly and check for signs of concussion."

Before I knew it, a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits and a packet of panadol appeared in front of me. My pupils were examined to see if they reacted to light and if they both remained the same size. Fingers were waved. Would my eyeballs track? All appeared to be in order.

I nibbled a biscuit and swallowed a couple of panadol with my tea as I took stock of the situation. The back of my head hurt, though there was no bump and no bleeding. As I raised my hand to poke my head I became conscious of a flapping effect. Further investigation revealed that the sleeve of my jacket was torn and large swathes of fabric were hanging free. The corner of the whiteboard, impelled by a fairly massive momentum (whiteboards are HEAVY) had ripped its way down my arm without, fortunately, gouging into the flesh beneath.

I contemplated the possible effects of that sharp corner on my body or my head and shuddered anew. The potential for massive injury was too awful to contemplate. I calmed myself with a biscuit and began to realise just how lucky I had been. Had I been standing two inches to the right and one pace back I would now be sprawled unconscious and bleeding on the floor. Perhaps my flesh rather than the fabric of my jacket would be hanging in flaps. Perhaps my skull would be caved in like an eggshell, leaking brains and body fluids onto the carpet. They’d never get the stains out…

I spent the rest of the day in a curiously disembodied state. Nothing felt quite real and I have absolutely no idea what I said to the students as the class progressed. I leaned the whiteboard up against the wall and continued to write and draw on it. The next day a man arrived and fixed it to the wall with screws so long that I began to wonder if they would poke out into the next room. No way would this whiteboard ever fall off again. Not unless the whole wall fell out with it. Mind you, Wellington is in an earthquake zone…

"There," said the man in tones of deepest satisfaction, thumping it hard. "Solid as a rock." He left and I turned to the class to continue the lesson.

Ten minutes later the projector exploded.

The Trigger, the new Arthur C. Clarke collaborative novel with Michael Kube-McDowell, begins with a very simple premise (what if there exists a device which makes all modern weapons unusable) and then examines the consequences of that premise in detail. In a sense it is a very Wellsian novel in that it follows exactly the formula that Wells spelled out for his successful pioneering forays into the science fiction world - that is to allow one and only one thing to change and then to explore the ramifications of that single thing. Allow too many things to change, said Wells, and the story degenerates into silliness for any dilemma can then be resolved by introducing a new, hitherto unsuspected factor. I wish that many modern writers would pay more heed to that dictum. Their stories would be far stronger if they did.

Anyway, the novel shows us the discovery of the trigger effect in a private research laboratory and then follows the moral dilemmas, the politics and the pressures emanating from the discovery. Imagine being in the position of actually being able to implement world peace (and enforce it, if that isn't too strong a word). That is where both the scientific team and the USA president find themselves. These are deep waters. No other novel that I am familiar with has ever examined the ethics of war and peace in quite such depth as this one does.

But don't go away thinking that the book is a tract - nothing could be further from the truth. It may be a Wellsian novel, but it never falls into the Wellsian trap of preaching (Wells' popularity plummeted once he started doing that to his audience). No novel can really succeed unless it has drama, action and characters whose lives matter to the reader. And this book has all of those and more. The first three quarters of the novel held me absolutely enthralled. However the last portion was less than thrilling for the book eventually turns into a confrontation between the American Government and some of the more rabid members of the National Rifle Association. The trigger effect, of course, infuriates the NRA who interpret it as an attempt to deprive them of their guns.

The raving loonies of the NRA have few counterparts anywhere else in the world and most non-Americans have little interest in them or their deranged ideas. American gun laws are generally regarded as utterly insane by other countries. Consequently it is very difficult to feel any sense of involvement in any story concerning the NRA. Doubtless to an American audience the pros and cons of the NRA confrontation with the Government will have an immediate dramatic appeal (and it may well be the highlight of the book for them). But outside America the whole thing appears parochial at best and it cheapens the theme of world peace that the rest of the book deals with so very well.

Nonetheless, this is an important and sometimes profound book, eminently readable, well crafted and exciting.

As I write these words, it is just after Christmas 1999. I hate Christmas (bah, humbug!) and generally I turn curmudgeonly at this time of year. Connie Willis, however, loves Christmas and her new short story collection (Miracle and Other Christmas Stories) makes this abundantly clear. All the stories in the collection are Christmas stories, of course, and all manage to tell traditional Christmas spirit tales in the inimitable Willis style. Her sense of humour (and sense of the absurd) never fails to tickle my funny bone. I love the way she works out her pet hatreds (and mine and yours as well); waiters who get the orders wrong, Barbie dolls, badly-behaved screaming children, people in queues, management, jaw-breaking jargon-ridden speeches and memos, new age enthusiasms. I chuckled all the way through the book. Even those of us who hate Christmas can't help but enjoy the Christmas stories of Connie Willis.

One of the great themes of science fiction, one of the things about it that thrilled me as a child (and which still thrills me as an adult), is the simple tale of the first voyage to another planet (usually the moon or Mars). It is a story you seldom see these days. SF has perhaps grown too sophisticated for such simple tales, too concerned with larger themes and deeper philosophies. And hasn't it been done to death? Just how many changes can you ring on such a simple outline anyway? Well lots, actually. There is no story idea so hackneyed and cliché-ridden that it cannot be used to great effect by a skilful writer. And Gregory Benford proves it in his completely traditional but brilliantly enthralling novel The Martian Race.

Following the failure of a NASA Mars mission, America pulls back from space exploration and licks its wounds. But a prize is on offer. Drawing on lessons from the past, $30 billion is made available by the Mars Consortium to whoever can visit the planet and return with scientific knowledge won from its exploration. This mechanism for encouraging exploration by the private sector has a long history. The Portuguese King known as Henry the Navigator used it in the 1400s to force the exploration and development of the African continent and beyond. The first section of the novel opens with a quote from Prince Henry in which he remarks (somewhat cynically) that:

            It seemed…that if he or some other lord did not endeavour
            to gain that knowledge, no mariners or merchants would ever
            dare to attempt it, for it is clear that none of them ever trouble
            to sail to a place where there is not a sure and certain hope
            of profit.

Business entrepreneur John Axelrod takes up the challenge, determined to win the prize. His reasons are complex. The money (of course) represents a profit if his costs can be kept well below the prize value. But he also has a streak of idealism (it is the right thing to do) and he recognises that the business opportunities are immense, both in trivialities (selling media rights and promotional items; tee shirts and toys) and in real advances (scientific and technological avenues to explore and the possibility of a whole new world to develop commercially).

From this point on we have a novel that could have been (and often was) written in the 1940s or 1950s. But what's wrong with that? It held me in its magical spell from page one. They go to Mars, they explore it. It is a tale enthrallingly and brilliantly and perfectly told. This book will revitalise the most jaded palate; reawaken the most moribund sense of wonder. If it doesn't make you tingle to the tips of your toes, then you must be dead and we'd better bury you now, before you start to smell.

Legends Walking is Jane Lindskold's sequel to her earlier Changer. If you haven't read the first book, you might find the events of Legends Walking a little hard to follow, for much of the background is assumed to be already known to the reader. To that extent the book is flawed for it does not stand alone. However as a sequel to and continuation of Changer it is superbly done and already I am impatient for more.

Smallpox has resurfaced in the Nigerian city of Monamona. It is being used as a weapon of control by Regis, a person with political ambitions. Anson A. Kridd and Eddie have business connections in Monamona and when two of Anson's friends vanish into Regis' clutches, they are moved to investigate. It soon becomes apparent that some of the athanor are involved in Regis' political machinations. Meanwhile back in America, Shahrazad, the daughter of Changer, once known as Proteus, the oldest of the athanor, is starting to explore the limits of her new abilities against the constraints of the world itself. Changer leaves her in the charge of Frank MacDonald and goes to visit his brother Duppy Jonah to help in the rebuilding of Atlantis. However the perils that Shahrazad faces in America and that Anson and Eddie face in Nigeria, soon require his help.

The athanor are immortal beings (subject only to death by accident or murder). Changer himself is the oldest of the athanor (and Shahrazad the youngest, she was born at the beginning of the novel Changer). Many of the athanor have played a vital part in human history as kings and queens, gods and goddesses. Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Odysseus, Athena, Circe, Arthur, Merlin - all these and more were and are athanor. So too are many creatures of legend (unicorns live on Frank MacDonald's farm and sasquatch live deep in the interior of the great forests that still cover some of America).

Within this framework, Jane Lindskold is busy constructing a series of complexly-plotted novels that examine the sociology and politics of the athanor and their interactions with the short-lived humans whose society they live within. If the two novels so far published are anything to go by, this series has "classic" written all over it. Mark my words - Jane Lindskold is going to be one of THE writers of the 21st century. You read it here first.

I've been buying more Elizabeth Peters books (gosh the lady is prolific - I've got a whole shelf full of her books now and there are heaps more to go. Slow down, Elizabeth! I'll never catch up). The Falcon at the Portal is the latest in the saga of the Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, and her archaeologist husband Emerson and her obnoxious son Ramses. It is 1911. Amelia's adopted son David has married his sweetheart Lia. However he stands accused of forging and selling ancient Egyptian artefacts, a scandal that could break the family. A body is discovered at the bottom of the shaft that Emerson is excavating. A small child with a mysterious background sparks a crisis. In short the mixture as before. Perhaps I am getting jaded (or perhaps I am starting to understand the mind of Elizabeth Peters) but I felt that this was one of the weaker of the Amelia Peabody stories. It seemed as if Peters was simply going through the motions. I found no surprises and no insights in the plot (I felt the dénouement was anti-climactic and the identity of the villain was obvious). The book was simply marking time.

On the other hand, The Deeds of the Disturber (an earlier Amelia Peabody novel, but only just published in paperback) is a classic of its kind. It is set in London rather than Egypt, but the Egyptological connections are still evident. Mysterious happenings culminating in a death have taken place in the Egyptian gallery of the British Museum. Amelia and Emerson are soon in hot pursuit of the villain, aided, abetted and sometimes hindered by their precocious son Ramses (whose experiments in mummification cause mild hysteria in the more impressionable of the servants). The novel is ingeniously plotted, enormously witty and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Brilliant!

Die for Love is an early adventure of another of Elizabeth Peters' ongoing heroines. Jacqueline Kirby is a librarian at Coldwater College, Nebraska. Feeling the need to escape for a while, she visits New York to attend a convention of the Historical Romance Writers of the World. During the convention a journalist is murdered and one of the novelists is under threat of death and asks Jacqueline for help. The game's afoot!

So much for plot. It's a traditional whodunnit culminating (as all the best traditional whodunnits do) in a scene where all the suspects are gathered together and Jacqueline fingers the villain. If that was all there was to it, the book would be merely a pale Agatha Christie clone, not worthy of our time. But the plot is actually the least important aspect of it. This is a screamingly funny and very vicious satire about the business of writing novels and getting them published (a subject dear to Elizabeth Peters' heart, of course). I doubt that there exists a publisher, an editor or an agent who could read this book without squirming a little. I loved every acid-coated word of it.

Night Train to Memphis involves Vicky Bliss, assistant curator of Munich's National Museum, in an intriguing tale of theft and murder. She is asked to take part in a luxury cruise on the Nile which has been arranged by millionaire Egyptologist Larry Blenkiron. It seems that information has reached the police that an attempt will be made to steal some antiquities from the Cairo Museum and it would appear that the thief (or thieves) will be using the cruise as a cover for their activities. Vicky's task is to help identify the thieves, for it seems that at least one (and perhaps more) of the gang are known to her. Reluctantly she agrees, and thus begins a tale of theft, murder and revenge. Nobody and nothing is exactly what it seems on the surface to be, and it is a joy to watch Elizabeth Peters slowly reveal the hugely complex details of her hugely complex plot as Vicky dives deep into danger and intrigue and love…

I must confess that although I enjoyed the book immensely (the plotting is breathtakingly brilliant and the writing is consistently witty) I found Vicky Bliss herself to be a hugely irritating person; so much so that on more than one occasion I had to put the book down and go and do something else for a while because I wanted to yell at her to stop being so stupid. She displays not an ounce of common sense, she hasn't got a brain in her head, and she has an arrogantly over-inflated opinion of her own abilities. For example, at one point in the novel two of Vicky's colleagues put themselves in great danger to rescue her from the clutches of the villain. She refuses to believe a single word they tell her and immediately runs away from them right back into the clutches of the villain and they have to rescue her all over again!

She also has the incredibly annoying habit of questioning everything and everybody at inopportune times. She is in the middle of a crisis, bullets flying everywhere, the villain and his evil henchmen are about to close in for the kill. Every second counts, there is not a moment to lose.

"Quick," someone yells. "Do such and such a thing!"

"Why?" demands Vicky, and refuses to move, thereby putting everyone in even more danger than they are already in!

This kind of thing happens so often that I simply fail to understand why her colleagues don't just strangle her and get on with the story without her. Nevertheless, they don't. One and all they seem to love her; to dote on her. I find this incomprehensible.

Night Train to Memphis is a very clever book, but Vicky Bliss is definitely not my favourite person.

Devil May Care involves Ellie who is house sitting for her eccentric Aunt Kate. Ellie becomes involved in ghostly manifestations which become more eerie (and seemingly more dangerous) as the book progresses. So much for plot summary. I was enjoying the book enormously, laughing at the jokes, enjoying the unravelling of the intricate plot, when suddenly I was at the end of the book and the explanation was such a breath-takingly outrageous cheat that I became quite disgusted with the whole thing. In this book Elizabeth Peters has broken the one rule that cannot be broken in this kind of story.

If you don’t want the ending revealed to you, don’t read the next paragraph, skip straight to the one after it…

The enormous cheat is this – not all the ghostly manifestations have been caused by the villain in pursuit of his evil aims. The things that puzzled the characters and prevented them from finding out the truth sooner were caused by actual ghosts. Humph!

But Peters redeems herself with The Love Talker. Laurie visits her aged aunties, one of whom claims to have seen fairies in the woods (and has photographic evidence to prove it). The explanation for the fairies (and the reasons for their manifestation) are truly satisfying. Peters is scrupulously fair in the dénouement and the red herrings are sown with her usual immense skill. This one is just wonderful. (Can you sow red herrings? Or do they spawn?)

In The Jackal’s Head, Peters returns to her Egyptian stamping grounds to tell a contemporary tale involving scandal and disgrace and a treasure hunt for the tomb of Nerertiti herself. Aficionados will enjoy spotting the references to the earlier Egyptian adventures of Amelia Peabody. Those in search of a thrilling mystery will be equally satisfied. The tension in the last few pages is immense and the ending will make you glow.

In The Murders of Richard III Jacqueline Kirby attends a meeting of an eccentric British society dedicated to clearing the name of the eponymous King. Of course he didn’t murder the Princes in the Tower? Who in their right mind could possibly believe that? One of the members claims to have documentary proof and the climax of the meeting is to be the publication of the document itself. But before this can take place things begin to go horribly wrong as several people are humiliated, injured and (finally) killed in a bizarre series of re-creations of the historical incidents that surrounded the king himself. Jaqueline will need to keep all her wits about her to solve this one. Needless to say, she rises magnificently to the occasion.

Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish writer of very black thrillers (one critic has called his books "tartan noir" which is a very good description that I wish I'd thought of). Country of the Blind is a sequel to his first novel Quite Ugly One Morning and like far too many sequels, does not really measure up to the brilliance of the first. Media mogul Roland Voss has been murdered. It appears that he interrupted a burglary and he and his wife were killed by the burglars. The police catch the burglars in the grounds of the house. They are covered in blood and the murder weapon is found not far away. It would seem to be an open and shut case. But niggling details worry investigative journalist Jack Parlabane and lawyer Nicole Carrow, and their investigations begin to uncover a dastardly plot.

Actually, the book isn't bad at all. The tension never lets up and the dialogue is crisp, sharp and often very witty. However the theme of the novel (corruption in high places) is the same as the theme of the first book. Because it covers much the same ground and makes the same philosophical and political points in much the same way, it pales by comparison. I couldn't help feeling that the author was simply chewing his gum a second time and that spoiled it for me.

Not the End of the World, on the other hand, takes on a different set of targets and is a lot more refreshing as a result. An oceanic research vessel is discovered in mid-Pacific. The crew have vanished, though the remains of their last meal are still visible in the galley (can you say Mary Celeste? I thought you could). Meanwhile in Los Angeles a film festival is under way. Writers artists, directors and marketers of (mainly) soft core porn are gathered together to scratch each other's … err, ummm … backs. Across the road, the Festival Of Light, an umbrella organisation of many fundamentalist Christian groups, is holding a rally. The two conventions are bound to clash and the LAPD is a little concerned. Steff Kennedy, a Scottish news photographer with an impenetrable accent and a penchant for sticking his nose in where it isn't wanted proves to be the catalyst that sets the reaction going. The result is incredible carnage (both real and imagined), enormous tension and a biting commentary on the insanities of fundamentalism and the megalomania of political power.

Lord of the Fantastic is sub-titled Stories in Honour of Roger Zelazny. The collection is an homage to Roger and while none of the stories are directly in his own (inimitable) style, they all explore themes that he concerned himself with in his own works. Most of the stories have an afterword describing the writer’s relationship with Roger. How they met, how Roger encouraged their own early work – that kind of thing.

There isn’t a bad story in the book (most unusual for an anthology) and the insights into Roger’s life and character are icing on the cake, and believe me, the whole cake is deliciously sweet and tasty.

Jeff Long's novel The Descent opens in a cave high in the Himalayas. A party of tourists is forced to take shelter from a storm. In the back of the cave they find the naked, frozen body of an RAF pilot. Tattooed on his skin are obscure sentences that seem to describe years of torment. Clamped through his nose is a huge ring of pure gold.

Evidence slowly accumulates. There is a labyrinth beneath the world and there are demons.

This book is everything that Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth wasn't. Except for the details of the modern world and modern weaponry and modern technology, it could actually have been written contemporarily with Verne's classic. In some ways I rather wish it had been, for despite the thrills and spills, the excitement and the adventure (and make no mistake about it, there is plenty of that) the so-called science that holds the ideas together is often laughably naïve. A hundred or more years ago, in a scientifically less sophisticated era, it would have been much easier to swallow. If only Long could have brought himself to set his story back then instead of in the modern day, it would have been an immensely stronger book. As it is, the best you can say is that it is a good Boys Own Adventure. It isn't very involving and you don't really care about the characters because the plot, the science (and the religion) are so incredibly silly by today's standards.

Joe Haldeman has written a sequel to his Hugo-award winning novel The Forever War. Forever Free takes up the story of William Mandella and Marygay after they have settled on a planet set aside by the communal minded Man for the non-members of the communal mind. Living on the planet is marginal at best (the winters are hard, the pickings lean) and Mandella and his friends embark on an expedition in a relativistic starship, heading again for the future as they have so many times before. When they complete their journey, 40,000 years will have passed. Unfortunately they are forced to curtail their trip and return to their planet. Only a few years have passed, but a mystery awaits them.

The resolution of the mystery involves not one, but two dei ex machina, and I felt the last section of the book was quite weak as a result. Infuriatingly, both plot devices are potentially enormously interesting (they could, and should be the subject of their own novel) and if only Haldeman had taken the time to explore the ideas properly he would have had a world beating story on his hands. As it is though, because of the essentially arbitrary nature of their introduction they become nothing but a McGuffin as the author waves his arms about trying to blind you with smoke and mirrors as the plot disintegrates.

With his new novel, Mick Farren has confirmed his place as the very best schlock writer in the field. Jim Morrison’s Adventures in the Afterlife takes place entirely in the afterlife (of course) and involves the adventures of Morrison himself, Doc Holliday and Aimee Semple McPherson. Don’t examine the plot details too closely…

McPherson has split herself in two. Aimee McPherson has built herself a Heaven along the lines of that which she preached about in life. Her sister Semple has retired to a domain of her own which is decidedly more sensuous and cruel. Aimee feels something is missing from her heaven and she asks Semple to find her a poet to complete it. For arbitrary reasons, Semple begins her search in Necropolis where Anubis the dog-headed god of Egypt holds sway…

Meanwhile, Doc Holliday (who carries the Gun That Belonged to Elvis, a hugely potent symbol in the afterlife) rescues a confused Jim Morrison from the clutches of Moses. However several gods from the Voodoo pantheon seem to have taken an interest in him, and Doc Holliday is forced to abandon him and leave him to his own devices. Morrison is abducted by aliens, but refuses to submit to a medical examination…

Eventually these hugely disparate plot threads all come together after a long, rambling, picaresque adventure full of violence, dope and general low-life seediness (at the describing of which Farren has no equals). I loved every insane paragraph. Mick Farren really is one of my very favourite writers.

Sick Puppy, the new Carl Hiassen novel concerns one Palmer Stoat, a political lobbyist in Florida who wheels and deals in a scheme to build a new development on a small island just off the coast. He comes into contact with Twilly Spree, a concerned environmentalist who happens to be following Stoat’s car one day when he observes Stoat throwing litter out on to the verge. This annoys him and he determines to take his revenge. He starts small, but as the ramifications of Stoat’s obnoxious lifestyle (and even more obnoxious schemes) are revealed so his revengeful plans deepen as he determines to teach Stoat the lesson he so richly deserves.

Hiassen’s strengths are the bizarre humour and eccentric characters that he uses to illustrate his themes. His non-fiction makes it clear that political corruption and environmental issues are subjects dear to his heart and the novel simply dramatises his concerns. Without the humour that he brings to bear, his books would probably be terribly dry polemics. However his particular genius means that you can laugh out loud at the antics while at the same time absorbing the underlying, more serious ideas that he is really talking about.

So read Sick Puppy and enjoy the man with the Barbie doll fixation, the prostitute who only does card carrying Republicans, and McGuinn (aka Boodle) the black labrador with the happy nature and the poisonous farts.

Steven Brust’s Dragon is an early adventure of Vlad Taltos. If you have read all the other books in the series, you will probably enjoy it immensely (I did) but if Vlad’s history is a closed book to you, you will have absolutely no idea at all about who is doing what to whom, and why and you will (quite rightly) give up in disgust.

You will probably also give up in disgust on Tom Holt’s latest excruciatingly embarrassing attempt at comedy. The title is Snow White and the Seven Samurai, and knowing that, you know everything you need to know.

Phil Rickman’s new novel Midwinter of the Spirit is a sequel to his earlier The Wine of Angels. However it does stand alone and no knowledge of the earlier book is needed. That said though, it is undoubtedly the weakest novel he has yet produced. It takes itself far too seriously and the plot (such as it is) is rather dull. If you like ghost stories and exorcisms (and much theological debate) you might enjoy it. If you don’t, you won’t.

Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time is a re-titling of an early novel called Bid Time Return. It is breathtakingly beautiful and is guaranteed to put a lump in your throat. Make no mistake, this is high art indeed. The protagonist falls in love with a picture of an actress from the last century. He becomes obsessive about her, thinks himself in love with her and eventually manages to travel back in time to meet her. He woos and wins her, but of course their love is doomed. The spirit (and the theme) reminded me very much of Jack Finney’s more famous Time and Again, and I know of no higher praise than that.

I am convinced that many car accidents are caused by the whole family staring in rapt concentration at the odometer as all the nines flip over and turn into zeros. Certainly it was a game that my family used to play with great eagerness (and I was far too young to understand the dangers involved in having my driving daddy remove his eyes from the road). There is an undeniable fascination involved in watching the numbers change. It completely transcends the intellect. In our minds we KNOW that it has no significance at all, but some slimy thing deep in our subconscious couldn’t care less; it wants to watch the nines flip over, and by God that’s just what it is going to do!

I am writing these words in the early days of January 2000, so I have just been involved in the biggest (and least important) flipping of the nines that I’ve ever seen. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you did too.

But don’t read too much significance into it, will you?

Arthur C. Clarke andMichael Kube-McDowell The Trigger Voyager
Connie Willis Miracle and other Christmas Stories Bantam
Gregory Benford The Martian Race Warner
Jane Lindskold Legends Walking Avon
Elizabeth Peters The Falcon at the Portal Robinson
Elizabeth Peters The Deeds of the Disturber Avon
Elizabeth Peters Die For Love Tor
Elizabeth Peters Night Train to Memphis Warner
Elizabeth Peters Devil May Care Tor
Elizabeth Peters The Love Talker Tor
Elizabeth Peters The Jackal’s Head Tor
Elizabeth Peters The Murders of Richard III Mysterious Press
Christopher Brookmyre Country of the Blind Abacus
Christopher Brookmyre Not the End of the World Abacus
Martin H. Greenberg (Editor) Lord of the Fantastic Avon
Jeff Long The Descent Gollancz
Joe Haldeman Forever Free Ace
Mick Farren Jim Morrison’s Adventures in the Afterlife St. Martin’s Press
Carl Hiassen Sick Puppy Knopf
Steven Brust Dragon Tor
Tom Holt Snow White and the Seven Samurai Orbit
Phil Rickman Midwinter of the Spirit Macmillan
Richard Matheson Somewhere in Time Gauntlet

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