Once a celebrated author of "scientific romances", Erik Clevedon
is now an old man. Yet his fiction conceals a dangerous truth,
as Honoré Lechasseur and Emily Blandish discover following
a chance encounter with a strangely gifted young pickpocket.
Superhuman children known as "the Peculiar" are reaching adulthood,
and they plan to inherit the world...
The theme of eugenics permeates this novella, which is written
as if by the fictional author Erik Clevedon, who is loosely
based on the philosopher, poet and novelist William Olaf Stapledon.
"The Peculiar" are by-products of experiments that took place
between the Wars to breed supermen, and they themselves are
now seeking to reproduce and improve their already superior
stock. In the distant future, the successors of humanity look
back through time to examine how their race evolved, and take
steps to ensure that it does so. Even the fairly liberal mind
of Clevedon conceives of a notion to better the human race
by promoting matrimony between individuals possessing desirable
heritable characters and encouraging the voluntary sterilisation
of those less favoured by nature.
narrative's moral ambiguity means that there are no straightforward
right or wrong answers, or good or evil characters. As a consequence,
the plot remains satisfyingly unpredictable.
"The Peculiar", who are blessed with such gifts as telepathy
and telekinesis, are somewhat reminiscent of The Tomorrow
People. Whereas they were known as Homo superior,
"the Peculiar" have chosen the designation Homo peculiar.
There's also an element of X-Men and Strontium Dog,
as these beings are feared and despised by normal humans.
Philip Purser-Hallard has also thrown in a reference to the
British Rocket Group of the Quatermass
series, an organisation that was also mentioned in the Doctor
Who serial Remembrance of the Daleks. And as though
to remind us of the Time Hunter series' origin as a
spin-off from Telos' Who novellas, the author alludes
to the "scientific romances" of "Mr Wells", phrases that were
used in the Who serial Horror
of Fang Rock.
In case you were concerned that the mention of 1950 on the
front cover of this book means that little or no time travelling
takes place within its pages, be assured that this couldn't
be farther from the truth. In fact, Honoré travels farther
forward than he has ever done before, beyond even the far-flung
Who adventures The Ark and The End of the
World. Purser-Hallard depicts a marvellously and disconcertingly
alien environment, which is populated by the towering pine-green-skinned
descendents of humanity, who have manufactured a whole new
world following the destruction of Earth.
assumed writing style of Erik Clevedon makes this book slightly
hard going at times, but overall this is a superior entry
in the series.