Book Jacket

 

rank 3248
word count 76708
date submitted 01.02.2010
date updated 15.02.2010
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, History, Comedy
classification: moderate
complete

Robin Who

Andrew Fish

A time-travel comedy adventure that brings a new slant to the Robin Hood legend.

 

Robin Hood was a crook! But was he as good a crook as he's cracked up to be? That's what Erasmus Hobart, teacher of history and physics wants to find out. In this, his first adventure, Erasmus takes his time-travelling privy back to mediaeval Nottingham in his quest for knowledge. But with homicidal knights, amorous female outlaws and mischievous squirrels all proving an obstacle to his progress can he really get to the truth and still get back in time to mark 4A's history homework? A comic fantasy writer in the tradition of Adams, Pratchett and Holt, Andrew Fish brings a new slant to the classic legend.

 
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tags

adventure, comedy, douglas adams, history, pratchett, robin hood, time travel

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Gold and brown were the colours of the driveway of St Cuthbert’s School as it lay beneath the crisp blue sky of another autumn day. A playful breeze dislodged a flurry of leaves from the trees which lined the drive, almost smothering Botchit, the caretaker, as he raked the wind’s earlier deposits into a neat pile. He sighed and leaned a moment on his rake contemplating the decaying leaves. They were probably symbolic of something, but he couldn’t be bothered working out what.

St Cuthbert’s was one of a dying breed – a state-funded school with a private-school mentality. Once it had been a boy’s grammar, but those days had passed and the school struggled to maintain the prestige it had lost. Botchit was a remnant of those older days – a caretaker with his own cottage in the grounds – but every passing term made him feel slightly less a part of the changing regime.

The sound of a sputtering engine marked the arrival of one part of the new regime. The battered Mini struggling up the drive might have looked like it belonged to one of the old guard, but it was in fact the property of one Erasmus Hobart - or as some of the students called him behind his back – Hobbit.

As the vehicle passed, its engine misfired, giving the impression a cannon had gone off. A cloud of acrid black smoke drifted up to obscure the view, leaving Botchit coughing in its wake.

How the vehicle had ever managed to pass its MOT was one of life’s great mysteries. Though pupils would expound on theories involving men in grubby overcoats who exchanged cash-stuffed brown envelopes, none of them really thought that Hobbit would be capable of such dastardly deeds.

All of which was symptomatic of the children’s attitude to the teacher. Although he was young and wasn’t actually disliked, in his short tenure teaching Science and History at St Cuthbert’s he had already become one of them – a member of the other side in the long-entrenched battle of nerves that was the school. He had his nickname. He even had a mythology developing around him.

Already it was rumoured amongst some in the first form – for whom anyone older than fourteen was pensionable – that Hobbit’s history lessons were taken entirely from personal experience. In a few years, when the current first form had been and gone, this would undoubtedly be accepted as fact by one and all.

As the Mini passed along the drive, pupils, alerted by the wheezing engine, hurriedly hid conkers and other health-and-safety-unfriendly possessions, putting on expressions of saint-like innocence until they were sure he was out of sight and that they were safe from discovery. Others were not so quick to react, nor were they as capable of hiding their mischief.

‘Atkinson! Davis! What are you doing with that?’ The voice of Erasmus Hobart was an attribute that made him a firm fixture of school sports days, carrying some distance across the school fields without the need for a megaphone.

‘What, sir?’ Atkinson replied. He attempted to conceal his contraband behind his back and looked at the master with a gaze of attentive innocence. It wasn’t easy: the teacher’s hazel eyes had a way of making your stomach try to hide in a corner. The boy’s eyes watered involuntarily as he tried to retain the teacher’s gaze.

‘That big stick,’ Erasmus persisted.

‘What big stick?’ Atkinson replied, sure that admitting the object’s existence after attempting to hide it would carry far worse penalties than continuing to pretend it wasn’t there.

‘That big stick behind your back.’

‘Big stick, sir? I can’t see a big stick.’

‘You can’t? Well I can. It’s six feet long and sticking above your head. Perhaps I should ask Mr Salmon to give you some remedial lessons. That way you’ll know that six feet is more than four foot five.’

Atkinson, realising when he was beaten, pulled the item in front of him and looked at it in surprise, trying to convey the impression he’d never seen it before.

‘Well?’ Erasmus enquired.

‘Sir?’

‘What is it?’

‘It’s a bow, sir.’

‘And?’

‘Sir?’

‘What are you doing with it? I trust you aren’t trying to shoot the school cat?’ In truth, Erasmus wouldn’t have minded this particular activity – he and the school cat had been engaged in a battle of wits since the rabid moggy had attempted to sink its claws into his leg on his first day.

‘No, sir,’ Atkinson protested. ‘It’s for the play. We’re doing Robin Hood, sir.’

‘Not with that you’re not,’ Erasmus told him. ‘Bring it here.’

‘Si-ir,’ Atkinson whined.

‘Here,’ Erasmus repeated, his voice going down in pitch and up in volume. It was a subtle change, but one to which experienced troublemakers had learned to respond. Atkinson may not have been an experienced troublemaker, but he was still intelligent enough to surrender the bow into the master’s hand.

‘When can I have it back?’ he asked.

‘You can have it at the end of term and not before,’ Erasmus told him and his tone told Atkinson that any argument was about as futile as expecting divine help to part the waters of the Trent in search of a lost ball.

The boy looked down at his feet with a hangdog expression, awaiting whatever fate Hobbit had in store for him. Erasmus smiled at the tousled head. He wasn’t a cruel man – it wasn’t that long since his own scholarly career of mischief had come to an end – and the boy’s antics were scarcely as disruptive as – to take an example at random – creating a build-up of static electricity that separated a teacher from his wig. Since he knew Atkinson wasn’t the type to intend a major disruption, Erasmus decided on clemency. Not immediately, though: he waited until the boy glanced up then gave him a stern look, prompting him to examine his shoes even more minutely. Then, after he had waited for what he felt was an appropriate time, he dismissed the boy. Atkinson, grateful at being spared punishment, nodded politely before turning on his heel and running back to where Davis was waiting.

‘Atkinson!’ Erasmus called out after him.

Atkinson turned.

‘Walk. Don’t run.’

‘Sorry, sir,’ Atkinson called back and he then continued his journey at a more sedate pace.

After watching the boy for a few moments, Erasmus examined the bow with interest. It wasn’t the normal bit of twig and string you found attached to teenage boys; it had real tension in it. He tugged it experimentally, considering what it would do for his odds against the school cat. Then, realising he was still blocking the driveway, he tried to bring the bow in through the car window. This proved difficult, since the bow spanned roughly six feet, whilst the car was only about five feet from wing mirror to wing mirror. He eventually managed to wedge one end of the bow in the passenger’s footwell whilst the other end stuck out of the sunroof, giving the impression of a dodgem aerial. Driving carefully so as not to get the bow caught in any low tree branches, he proceeded along the driveway to his parking space, leaving a trail of wide-eyed children, many with their hands held firmly behind their backs.

 

*

 

The classroom was a dark one; the north-facing windows, set just below ceiling height, allowed little natural light to penetrate and a number of electric strip lights struggled bravely to illuminate the dark and cobwebby corners. For Erasmus, however, this was a home away from home. Without the intrusion of sunlight, there was no difference from one season to another, no time except that which he marked with the staccato sound of chalk on blackboard and no distractions to draw the pupils’ attentions away from their studies.

This was a room in which a teacher could set the class an essay question then sit and peacefully while away the hours with a mug of coffee and a pile of books to mark. He had to use a different room for science lessons, of course: the school wasn’t so well-equipped as to allow the laboratories to be tied up with his history lessons, but science lessons tended to be in the afternoons when most of the youthful energies had been expended on the playing field, and the pupils always seemed more docile when they were armed with a piece of veroboard and a power-pack. True, it was probably because they were working out how to electrify Harrison’s pencil case whilst he was out of the room on one of his frequent trips to the lavatory, but Erasmus firmly believed a few electrical shocks were acceptable in the pursuit of knowledge[1]

For the moment, however, the room was devoid of pupils as Erasmus kept himself occupied working through a series of torturously complex equations on his blackboard. Soon the nine o’clock bell would ring, signifying the end of registration and the beginning of the slow
 
exodus to the first lesson of the morning.

Turning briefly from his calculations, he glanced at the pile of books on his desk; form 3A first this morning – hopefully Atkinson wouldn’t make too much of a fuss about his bow. He looked at the weapon, propped up next to his umbrella in the corner of the room. Where the boy had acquired such an article was a mystery – he hadn’t seen anywhere selling them and Mr Gaunt certainly wouldn’t have got the pupils to make one in woodwork. He shrugged: small boys seemed to have a natural ability to locate destructive implements, no matter how hard they were to acquire. If the UN had had the foresight to send a squad of thirteen year-old boys into countries suspected of harbouring weapons of mass destruction, you could guarantee they’d locate any nuclear arsenal in a matter of hours. True, they’d probably set off a few bombs just to see what they could do, but at least you’d know where they were and could take the appropriate action.

The sound of youthful conversation drifted through the door and returned the teacher’s attention to the real world. Erasmus checked his watch: it was three minutes past nine – obviously the tannoy still wasn’t working. He checked the volume control on the wall-mounted speaker: it wouldn’t surprise him to find that a pupil had adjusted it – he’d heard Mr Alesage complain they’d put his clock forward in order to get out of double French early. Erasmus glanced at the clock over the board, but not with any particular interest: unlike Mr Alesage, he never relied on school equipment - experience had taught him to wear a watch to work instead.

Hearing the conversation outside was getting louder, Erasmus put down his chalk and began to wind the crank which turned the blackboards on their rollers and gave him a clean surface on which to write. A loud thump outside the door disturbed him and, realising he couldn’t put the moment off any longer, he strode to the door and opened it.

‘What was that noise?’ he demanded of the straggle of boys who were lined along the wall.

‘It wasn’t me, sir,’ Kirkby protested.

‘I asked what the noise was, not who wasn’t responsible. Have you got a guilty conscience or have you just neglected to wash your ears out this morning?’

Kirkby didn’t answer – he couldn’t see what the right answer was.

‘Well?’ Erasmus directed his gaze over the whole class.

‘Please, sir.’  Harrison’s unbroken voice rang out like the song of a lark that had just undergone an intensive interrogation.

‘Yes, Harrison,’ Erasmus prompted.

‘It was my sandwiches, sir.’

‘Your sandwiches? What have you got in them – gunpowder?’

‘No, sir,’ Harrison objected. ‘Barnstaple threw them at the door.’

There was a chorus of ‘sneak’ from the back of the queue. Erasmus took a discreet look and noted Barnstaple and his usual bunch of cronies. He felt sorry for Harrison: he admired the child’s sense of duty and fair play, but sometimes he felt it would be better if the boy just kept his mouth shut. He looked down at his feet and found a small packet of sandwiches, so tightly wrapped in cling-film you felt that Harrison’s mother was trying to suffocate the contents and make sure they were dead. He motioned to the boy at the front of the queue, who obediently bent down, picked up the package and passed them to the master.

Erasmus looked sternly at Barnstaple. ‘Why did you throw these?’ he asked.

Barnstaple maintained a sullen silence.

‘We’ll stand here until someone tells me,’ Erasmus informed them, ‘and you know what that means, don’t you?’

Some of the smaller boys nodded. Erasmus’ system of punishment basically involved adding up the minutes for which his lesson was disrupted and claiming the time back in a detention. It wasn’t an entirely fair system, since the whole class were punished for the fault of a handful of troublemakers but, as Erasmus himself pointed out, his detentions weren’t about punishing people, but about making sure they came out of school with the right amount of education. British education might be going to the dogs, but there was no way this teacher was going to turn his school into just another kennel.

Barnstaple, knowing Erasmus wouldn’t back down and unwilling to undergo an entire hour’s detention, held up a small wooden device.

‘I was testing this,’ he admitted.

‘Bring it here,’ Erasmus demanded. Barnstaple made his way to the front, the line of boys leaning against the wall to let him pass, whilst simultaneously staring curiously at the contraption. Erasmus took the device from the boy and examined it closely.

‘It’s a catapult,’ Barnstaple explained.

‘I can see that,’ Erasmus told him. ‘More accurately, of course, you should call it a trebuchet. Now what are you doing throwing people’s sandwiches with a piece of siege artillery?’

‘I thought they might want to use it in the play.’

‘I see. This would be the famous production of Robin Hood, would it?’

Barnstaple nodded.

‘And where in the legends does it say that the outlaws fired sandwiches from trebuchets, hmm?’

Barnstaple shrugged. ‘They had them back then,’ he managed.

‘Trebuchets, yes,’ Erasmus agreed. ‘However, I believe they were somewhat short of sandwiches and, even if they weren’t, I doubt it would ever have occurred to them to use them as ammunition.’

‘The French used to throw animals over castle walls,’ someone contributed. ‘Perhaps the English just used to throw their lunch.’

Erasmus looked up, trying to find the source of the comment, one eyebrow raised quizzically. He identified the source of the comment as Atkinson and looked at him levelly. ‘Do you understand why the French threw cows over castle walls?’ he asked.

‘Because they had BSE?’ Atkinson suggested.

‘In the thirteenth century,’ Barnstaple sneered.

Erasmus looked at Barnstaple sternly and the boy fell silent. ‘Believe it or not, Atkinson,’ Erasmus continued, looking back towards the boy, ‘you’re actually thinking in the right area. It was common in siege warfare to hurl diseased animals into besieged castles – the idea was that the disease would spread amongst the inhabitants and lead to an early surrender. However, I fail to see what relevance this has to Robin Hood.’ He looked down at Barnstaple once more.

‘I was just getting into it,’ said Barnstaple. ‘You know, history and all that.’

Erasmus pushed back the classroom door and ushered the pupils to their seats. He handed Harrison his sandwiches as he passed. Once the last few pupils had filtered past, he closed the door and made his way to his desk.

‘Taking an interest in history is very commendable,’ he told the class as they stood quietly behind their desks, ‘but plays about Robin Hood actually say very little about the history of this country. In fact, there are significant elements of the plays which flatly contradict history as we know it.’

He motioned for the class to sit and, as they complied, he surveyed them: there did seem to be a spark of genuine interest, even if it had initially revolved around a practical interest in siege weaponry.

He waited for the noises of scraping chairs and low murmuring to subside, then addressed the class. ‘Can anyone give me an example of a historically dubious aspect of the Robin Hood legend?’ he asked.

Harrison raised his hand, eager to be the first to answer. Erasmus decided not to choose the boy: he’d already embarrassed Barnstaple once this morning and it wouldn’t do to let him draw too much attention to himself – not with double Physics after lunch, anyway.

‘Heathfield,’ he called out, noticing the child was holding his left arm up and supporting it with his right as if it were becoming burdensome.

‘Marion, sir,’ Heathfield said.

‘What about Marion?’

‘My Dad says she didn’t exist, sir.’

‘Does he now? And what makes him say that?’

‘He says that women knew their place in the Middle Ages, sir, and that they didn’t go out partying with their friends to all hours of the night.’

Erasmus tried hard not to smile: Heathfield Senior’s remarks often said more about the insecurities of twenty-first century man than they did about the position of twelfth or thirteenth century woman. He noticed Harrison had put his sandwiches on the edge of the desk – should he tell the boy to put them away? He didn’t understand why Harrison had to wave his sandwiches around like that anyway – did he think they’d run away if he left them in his bag?

‘I was told the French made her up,’ Atkinson contributed. ‘She wasn’t in the early legends and the French added her in.’

‘Why would the French do that?’ Barnstaple challenged.

‘Hufter,’ Thomas sneered. ‘We were all French back then anyway – that’s just like saying we made it up.’

‘If we were French, why were they called Normans, then?’

‘Everyone was called Norman, that’s why they invented surnames – cos it got too confusing.’

Erasmus banged on the desk with his board rubber. ‘Can we have a little order?’ he asked. The room fell silent, except for a few murmurings from Barnstaple, still seething at being insulted.

‘Now,’ Erasmus continued. ‘The example I had in mind is the return of King Richard – that’s been a part of the legend for as long as we can trace it back. Historically, it seems extremely unlikely. Richard spent most of his time out of the country and there’s plenty of evidence he didn’t care about the place in the slightest. Even if allow for possibility that Robin could have met the King during the siege of Nottingham Castle, it seems unlikely that standing up for the rights of English peasants would have pleased Richard. Marion is an interesting one, though. It’s widely held she was, as Atkinson pointed out, added by French-inspired romantics at roughly the same time that Guinevere was added to the legend of King Arthur, but a new school of thought has it that Marion was part of the original legends and was removed by chroniclers of the day, possibly because they shared the opinions of Heathfield’s father.’

There were a few chuckles around the room and Heathfield’s face flushed red.

‘Please, sir,’ Harrison held his arm so high Erasmus wondered at how he didn’t dislocate it.

‘Yes, Harrison,’ Erasmus prompted, expecting one of Harrison’s regular requests for the lavatory.

‘Did Robin Hood really exist?’ Harrison asked.

Erasmus sat down on the edge of his desk. ‘That’s difficult to say,’ he admitted. ‘It’s usually true that legends have at least some historical basis, but it’s very hard to tell how much of the legend is attributable to a real person.’

‘Can’t you just look up his birth certificate?’

Erasmus smiled. ‘They hadn’t started keeping them back then,’ he said. ‘But there are Robin Hoods in the records.’ He noted Harrison’s sudden look of enthusiasm. ‘They’re all years later,’ he said.

‘What about going back to the earliest version of the legend?’ Atkinson asked.

Erasmus shook his head. ‘No,’ he said. ‘The trouble with legends like Robin Hood is that they usually begin as an oral tradition. The first written stories of Robin appear at least a hundred years after the time of King John and it’s possible these left out elements, like Marion, which were added by later writers who knew some of the oral traditions. It’s also possible the original writers added some of the political material of their own time to the message.

‘Robin, we are told, robbed from the rich to give to the poor, but this was supposed to happen at a time when we’re told money wasn’t in wide circulation. Peasants were living off the land and they paid for the rights to that land by working the lands of their masters. Their masters mostly earned their keep by means of military service.’

‘So where did all the robbing come from?’ asked Atkinson.

‘Possibly from when the stories were written down. By then, the feudal system had been devastated by the Black Death, labourers were being paid to farm, and King Edward the Third was expecting to live just us as well in a country where thirty percent of the population had died in a few short years.

‘Robin Hood was the perfect tale to carry the sentiments of the people of that time, which might explain why King John is given such a poor portrayal. King Richard, by contrast, is portrayed as a great king even though he was hardly ever in the country.’

‘Sir,’ Harrison asked. ‘What’s the feudal system?’

‘I’m glad you asked that,’ Erasmus told him, ‘because that’s what we were supposed to be studying today. Now, if you’ll all turn to page 130 in your textbooks, we’ll have a look at what life was like in the Middle Ages.’

There was a general rustling of pages and Erasmus drank deeply from his lukewarm tea. In a way he was grateful for the school play – he’d never have been able to get the pupils interested in the Baron’s Revolt and Magna Carta if they weren’t already thinking about the period. That was the trouble with the curriculum, History was expected to be a dry repetition of facts: there was no real understanding to go with it. If you could put the class into one of those reconstruction villages for a week, like a mediaeval version of Big Brother, now that might help them to understand what it was like.

He opened his own battered copy of the textbook to the relevant page – oh well, time to get on with the lesson. He noticed Barnstaple was leaning over toward Harrison’s desk, his eyes intent on the smaller boy’s sandwiches. Almost unconsciously, the teacher picked up his board rubber and hurled it across the room. The projectile hit the desk within an inch of Barnstaple’s hand and bounced off towards the back of the room; the sound of the impact made both boys jump and Barnstaple, already in an imbalanced position, fell from his chair with a crash. A ripple of laughter spread across the class as Barnstaple picked himself up, his face red with embarrassment and one hand clutching his forehead.

‘Now what’s the matter?’ Erasmus asked.

‘I hit my head,’ Barnstaple replied. Erasmus summoned the boy to his desk and inspected the purple swelling just above his eye. It was nothing serious but, if it meant he could rid the class of a disruptive influence for long enough to get the other boys settled into some work, then it was an opportunity worth taking.

‘Go and see the nurse,’ he instructed the boy, ‘and don’t be too long, you’ll be making the time up tomorrow evening.’

‘Yes, sir,’ said Barnstaple, thoroughly cowed, then made his way out of the classroom door. The other pupils watched him go then looked expectantly at their teacher.

‘Right,’ said Erasmus in a businesslike tone. ‘What we’re going to do today is to read the chapter on Magna Carta and then I want you to write a thousand words on what effect you think the document had on the common man. Heathfield, you can come here and distribute the exercise books.’

The ginger-haired boy made his way unhurriedly to the front of the class and took the pile of books from his teacher. Erasmus watched as each child accepted his book and turned to see what mark they had received for their homework. Atkinson was staring wistfully into the corner of the room and Erasmus followed his gaze, which was trained somewhere just above his confiscated bow.

‘We’ll never know, will we sir?’ Atkinson asked.

‘Know what?’

‘Whether Robin Hood really existed.’

‘Perhaps we will one day,’ said Erasmus and he shot a glance at the equations, just visible at the top of the board. ‘Perhaps we will.’


 

[1] Technically, of course, the pursuers of knowledge were those attempting to electrocute Harrison rather than the poor boy himself, but Erasmus was sure that he entered into the spirit of the thing. Besides, there was always a chance that a brief electrical shock might solve his bladder problem.

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Tod Schneider wrote 692 days ago

This is great fun, really nicely written. I appreciate the dry humor and you launch the story with such a great chase scene. Well done!
-- Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

fledglingowl wrote 694 days ago

Andrew,
Congratulations on publication. Well deserved. Love the humor and the magic privy, so much nicer than Dr. Who's transport. High stars.
Good luck on your writing,
Janet
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

iandsmith wrote 969 days ago

Well done, Andrew. Authonomy blog 'one to watch' today! So that's what I'm doing..watching it that is.

Burgio wrote 1468 days ago

This is a unique story. And a funny one. You have a good character in Erasmus. He's likable and sympathetic because he may be well in over his head having transported himself back back to medieval England. Writing dialogue is a strength for you. Love the accents. Bottom line: this is a good read. I’m adding this to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Steve.Tee wrote 1469 days ago

Beware the pitch invader!
Being Authonomy's #1 common potato and professional spam doctor, trust me, you must master the basic technique of saying “SHELVED!” as often as possible in order to grab the new members. That's how one climbs in ranking - gathering exposure though comments won’t help better your novel but it certainly helps better your novel’s position.

I’m not interested in your comments on my book when you get the chance; all I want is your shelf.

Love Sooty Max.

soutexmex wrote 1469 days ago

Reminds me of Bill & Ted's Big Adventure. I can go with the short pitch but the long pitch? Drop everything after the last question mark. Being Authonomy's #1 commentator and amateur pitch doctor, trust me, spend some time on your pitches; I cannot overemphasize how you need to master this basic sales technique to grab the casual reader. That's how you climb in ranking to gather more exposure and comments to better your novel. SHELVED!

I can use your comments on my book when you get the chance. Cheers!

JC
The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

Keefieboy wrote 1470 days ago

Andrew: very clever, funny and entertaining. Shelved.

bigmouth wrote 1473 days ago

A genuinely funny book that would appeal to fans of Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and Doctor Who.

Fish has written a clever and witty novel that manages not to be smug, a hard trick to pull off. The plot cracks along at a fair pace, is full of brilliant observations and one-liners and plays around with the whole time travel idea brilliantly.

I could see this having considerable commercial appeal as an ongoing series of books. Well worth checking this one out.

WendyB wrote 1474 days ago

Very funny.
Funny premise, witty protagonist, and I even like the English schoolboys.

I haven't gotten to Robin yet, but I'm going to shelf this so I can get back to do it justice later. I think I may read ALL of this one
Bravo!

Oh, incidentally...I seriously doubt that an English schoolmaster would drop his 'thats' in order to be more colloquial. You have it right. Don't change it.

Wendy Bertsch
(Once More...From The Beginning)

Joss64 wrote 1474 days ago

Backed with pleasure! Jocelyn Enid Morris (A Bore No More)

lynn clayton wrote 1474 days ago

Oh, an intelligent, hilarious, learned change from vampires. A mingling of two great legends. Brilliant. Backed. Lynn

yasmin esack wrote 1478 days ago

Dear Andrew
This is smashing! I loved every line and it's so clever. Hope you get a chance to look at mine. I was truly caught with the parallel universe and time travel thing.

Backed with uttmost pleasure

Francesco wrote 1480 days ago

Backed with pleasure! Good Luck!!
A look at Sicilian Shadows would be greatly appreciated.
Frank.
If you back my work, you may also want to approach BJD (a big supporter of Sicilian Shadows) for a further read and possible backing of your book.

lookinup wrote 1487 days ago

A time-travel privy - incredible - and Lady Godiva coming out from nowhere of all people. An enjoyable read, tops even Dr. Who I might think. An interesting spin on a movie. Backed.

Catherine (The Golden Thread)

Ulysses Q wrote 1508 days ago

Hey Andrew,

Read your novel - Good Stuff. Backed it and I hope you do well with the thing. A couple of comments - not that you asked for any - and certain that my opinion on the matter carries little weight - but feel safe in giving them as you appear to be located in sunny England while I am ensconced across the pond and don't think you will jump on a plane just to pop over and bop me on the nose. It feels a little slow, plodding. If you could quicken the pace - one possibility is divide the chapters up - make them shorter overall and - a step further - make them progressively shorter as you build towards climaxes and then letting them out again as you settle things back down only to build again. It's subliminal but it can help to create the illusion of a quickening just as the editing in a motion picture can change the rhythm of a sequence. Also the addition of a time element - I know the thing is chock full of time - something like a ticking clock - the countdown where, if things aren't fixed by high noon then history is mucked up for good - to motivate the protagonist and create a sense of impending danger. One way this could be achieved is have him carry around a little handheld device of his creation - some sort of history continuum calculator, or HCC, that gives him an up to the minute readout of how badly out of whack things really are and how much time he has left to sort things - kind of a timeline GPS.

The only other thing I'd like to have seen more of is the loopy circular logic of time travel physics - could be done as narrative asides between or at the head of those shortened chapters - a shorthand example would be the hitchhikers guide entries from the hitchhikers guide to the - well - you know...

Anyway - sorry to be such a bore with all of this but I wouldn't have taken the time to make the suggestions if I didn't think the work held merit. It does. So if after reading this you still feel like popping cross the pond and bopping me well - all I can say is - there's more than thirteen colonies now so you'll have to find me.

best,

ulysses

Jared wrote 1523 days ago

Andrew, you hooked me at ' time-travelling privy' - wonderful. I'm loving this. So much going on, a truly fantastic story-line, hitch-hiking squirrels - a riot. The footnote to chapter 5 - 'Tough on crime, tough on the courses of crime was the slogan of the day' made me howl. This is a book to keep at the bedside, a book to dip into in an idle moment, a book to treasure. I'm strongly recommending this - and I read a lot of books on this site - and backing it. Absolutely.
Jared
Mummy's Boy.

Andrew Fish wrote 1523 days ago

I've edited down the quotient of 'that's.' Not as simple as it looks because whilst all of them are grammatically sound (and, in fact, would have been grammatically necessary only a few decades ago) the tide of fashion has not rendered every instance of the word superfluous.

I've left in the 'in fact's (not really that many of those) and the 'you fool's. In the latter instance this is a spoken malaprop, much like Wodehouse uses with Ukridge (referring to everyone as 'old horse') and it's unlikely in the stress of the moment that Godiva would reach for a more extensive litany of offence.

erict wrote 1524 days ago

This is well done. I think that the edit suggestions are worthwhile - My comment is the repeat of You fools two para's apart in the first chapter, but other than that - spot on stuff.

ET

Nick Poole2 wrote 1527 days ago

Starts well, shades of Dr Who.

Ominous silence? Steps in shit. Something moved..?

Then hooves.

You do this well, I think. Lady Godiva?

Yep.

"Bloody peeping Alfreds"...look forward to your explanation of that!

Okay, only thing missing here is any real sense of danger. Erasmus doesn't seem genuinely concerned at all.

But your Alfred explanation didn't disappoint.

Bravo!! This will do well.

Beval wrote 1529 days ago

I have to say I agree about the "that" word, but having said that:-), this is such a lot of fun and full of the most marvellous jokes.
A privy as a time machine...who couldn't love it.
I like Erasmus as well, a great charater. I love his assumptions about the times he finds himself.
Backed with pleasure.

paxie wrote 1530 days ago

Andrew
Do you think you need the word 'that' in the examples below:-

He looked back to make sure (that) his time machine didn’t look too out of place........glanced back? you have looked and look on the same line.....?

affairs of the type (that) you would normally associate with rich

fact ( that )she was mounted on a chestnut mare

by the fact (that) they couldn’t look at Godiva

he realised (that) this was because it was, in fact, the wrong key.

Now that I think of it, the word 'fact' seems ever popping up........

Anyway, fabulous read....You have the same sense of humour as me.....I love the premise......Time travel novels hold no bars.....everything is credible, (in my view)...A racy read

Happy to shelf.... Good luck with this........

Richard Daybell wrote 1535 days ago

You have a dandy sense of humor and a fun premise to apply it to. Good, witty dialogue and interesting characters. Good luck.

Richard Daybell
Zombie Jamboree

Debra wrote 1536 days ago

What a great premise and blending of legends. Lady Godiva. Robin Hood. With a touch of Doctor Who? Hilarious fun! Best wishes!

Debra

zenup wrote 1536 days ago

Great cover and title, very catchy. Privy as camouflage for time travel machine seems 100% more likely than the TARDIS, haha. My feeling, in Ch 1, is that a tightening of the prose could help the humour, but ... fun idea & execution. Backed.

Jed Oliver wrote 1536 days ago

This is wonderful! Great humorous writing, and time travel on top of it! I must come back to it, but couldn't wait to back your story. This should go far, it is so completely entertaining. I really love your sense of humour, it is completely charming. I sincerely wish you the very best with this book! Backed. Best Regards, jedward (Knut)

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