Book Jacket

 

rank 3253
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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4

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The end of the school day came, as it always did, as something of a relief. Despite having a passion for teaching, Erasmus always felt the school day was at least half an hour too long and that the hours of eight-thirty ‘til four o’clock had been arrived at with more consideration to the children’s parents than to the children themselves. He retrieved his board rubber from the back of the room for the third time that day, then sat down at his desk and finished his mug of tea, before rolling the blackboard round to the squiggles that had so confused Clarence the previous night.

Ciphered in the impenetrable scrawl[1] was the key to time, an equation so elegant it was almost a work of art, yet so simple it should scarcely have taxed a remedial student and yet – and yet – it was he, Erasmus Hobart, who had discovered that equation, who had realised it could be applied to create a machine that could travel back. He adjusted a couple of figures based on the maiden voyage of the night before then tossed the board rubber in his hand as he basked in the glory of his achievement.

Where should he go tonight? Should he try to solve some great mystery, like what exactly happened on the Marie Celeste, or try to meet one of history’s great statesmen for an interview? Perhaps, he considered, he could try to find the truth of the Robin Hood legend. It was certainly an interesting proposition.

He pocketed the board rubber and picked up his mediaeval costume, which he had washed at home the previous night. Then, mindful of Clarence’s intrusion after his previous outing, he locked the door to the corridor before unlocking the store room. Inside the small room, the privy stood, silent and expectant. Erasmus ignored it for the moment and turned his attention to the wardrobes, opening the door to the first and revealing a rack of clothing, with plastic hangings dividing them into sections. Each section was labelled with a range of dates for the era to which the clothes belonged, with sections like the 1500’s, where fashion had changed on an almost weekly basis, being contrasted with those of earlier centuries, where advances in clothing had been seen as secondary to the continual struggle to survive.

Erasmus hung his clean clothing in the 1100s section then rifled through the other clothes in the same era, looking for something more likely to blend in with forest surroundings. He finally settled on a brown tunic with matching cloak and trousers, which he complemented with a leather belt, a pouch and a pair of calfskin thigh boots.

He dressed hurriedly then checked his appearance in the mirror on the inside of the wardrobe door. Perfect – except for one detail. He rummaged in a drawer at the bottom of the wardrobe and pulled out a small, cloth bag, inside which were a pair of contact lenses. He disliked wearing lenses, but his glasses were a product of a later era. Although he had no way of knowing how much impact introducing advanced technology into the ancient world would have, he didn’t want to be the man who went down in history for ruining it.

Having assured the authenticity of his costume, Erasmus examined himself in the mirror once more. He was probably a little clean for a mediaeval peasant, but that should go unnoticed for long enough for him to attract a little dirt. He practised a few mediaeval expressions, greeting himself as if he had just unaccountably run into his exact doppelganger in a village street. Then, satisfied he would pass muster, he picked up his modern clothes from where they lay on the floor and hung them up in the second wardrobe.

As he turned his jacket up the right way, the board rubber fell from its pocket and, distractedly, Erasmus attempted to put the implement back. It wasn’t so easy to insert the rubber into the pocket of a jacket he wasn’t wearing, however, and after failing on his first attempt, he popped it into the pouch he wore on his belt. He closed the wardrobe doors, then a thought occurred to him and he returned to the classroom.

Standing in the corner of the room was the bow he had confiscated from Atkinson. Erasmus picked it up and tested the string once more. He’d never fired a bow before, but it was unlikely anyone else would guess that, so carrying one would probably be a sensible measure to discourage anyone from attacking him. Finally satisfied that he was ready to depart, Erasmus re-entered the store room, locking the door behind him, then turned his attention to the privy.

The interior of the privy was not what one might have expected from such a primitive device. Although the essential seat was present and correct, it was covered with a padded leather cushion, firmly fastened into place with brass studs. The walls, far from being bare wood, were covered with a mass of wires and small, blinking lights and a periscope hung from the centre of the ceiling, its brass glinting in the light from the outside world.

Erasmus sat down on the cushion, adjusted his posture to make himself comfortable, then pulled at a wooden panel that was almost flush with the wall on his right. The panel swung on smoothly oiled joints until it hung over Erasmus’ lap like one of the old-fashioned school desks in which chair and writing surface were one combined piece of furniture. The surface of this desk, however, contained something more than an inkwell, with a series of lights and liquid crystal displays, all connected to each other with lengths of rainbow-striped ribbon cable. In the centre of the panel was a series of buttons, a small keyboard, a joystick with a big red button on top and a throttle, all cobbled together from bits of old computer equipment, and these were labelled, using the black and white embossed stickers from a label maker Erasmus had confiscated from a troublesome first former. The joystick was labelled ‘where’ and the throttle was labelled ‘when’.

Erasmus flicked a switch on the side of the board and the privy hummed into life, with lights streaming along translucent wires, LED’s flicking on and off in what appeared to be random sequences and the displays on the control panel blinking a couple of times before settling down. A series of numbers appeared, the co-ordinates of Erasmus’ previous jaunt, with a prompt for a label displayed in flashing capitals beneath. The schoolteacher entered in a date and location - his research had placed Lady Godiva’s ride in Coventry somewhere between 1038 and 1051 – then pressed the button to store the information. It wasn’t, he had to admit, a very precise fix, but it was a start. He’d be able to improve on that when he’d made a few more trips.

Erasmus surveyed the control panel before him and breathed deeply. Last night had been an experiment - he had had no real destination in mind - now he was going to put his machine to the purpose he had always intended – the pursuit of historical truth. It was true he would never be able to tell anyone what he discovered – he was less than willing that his machine should fall into the hands of the authorities – but he could finally find the answers to all those questions that had nagged him throughout his life: he could finally know what really happened. He placed his hands on the joystick and the throttle, moved them carefully until he was satisfied with the contents of the display, then closed his eyes and pressed the red button.


 

[1] Rumour amongst the pupils was that teachers learned their handwriting somewhere special. Only a teacher could write the word illegible as if they meant it.

Chapters

4

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Tod Schneider wrote 694 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 696 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 970 days ago

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

Burgio wrote 1469 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 1470 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 1470 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 1471 days ago

Andrew: very clever, funny and entertaining. Shelved.

bigmouth wrote 1474 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 1475 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 1476 days ago

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

lynn clayton wrote 1476 days ago

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

yasmin esack wrote 1480 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 1482 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 1488 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 1510 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 1524 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 1525 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 1525 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 1529 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 1530 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 1531 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 1536 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 1537 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 1538 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 1538 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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