Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Many Dimensions

It was something of a pleasant surprise to hear Ruth Rendell daring to recommend an early work of science fiction, "Many Dimensions" by Charles Williams, on Mariella Frostrup's grand book-off 'Neglected Classics'on Radio 4. An unusual novel, it imagines the consequences if the (then) modern western world were to acquire Solomon's crown and the Tetragrammaton-inscribed stone that gives the bearer almost unlimited power - to move through time, space, heal the sick, replicate the stone itself infinitely, etc. A highly entertaining and deeply thought-provoking read.

Here's an extract, with some thoughts on the merit of encyclopedias, and Hoxton. Incidentally, I find it curious that elsewhere when one character learns of another lord or professor so-and-so, his first instinct is to look the fellow up in a Who's Who, much as one might Google a new name today.

"They are the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, the Divine name," Chloe said, still more nervously. "Yod, He, Vau, He. I found it out this afternoon," she said suddenly to Sir Giles, "in an encyclopedia."

"Some of us write encyclopedia's," Arglay said,"-that's you, Giles; some of us read them - that's you, Miss Burnett; some of us own them - that's me; and some of us despise them - that's you, Reginald."

"Encyclopedias are like slums," Giles said, "the rotten homes of diseased minds. But even Hoxton has to pretend to live, it thinks, and of course it doesn't know it stinks."

You may not have a stone of Solomon to replicate yourself, but the next best thing can be done by downloading "Many Dimensions" free of charge here at