Tag Archives: Excerpts

On Drugs and Culture and Time Spent at Preston House

An Excerpt from How Not To Do Time Travel

The Isolation Centre was more commonly known as Preston House.  It had once been the manor and grounds of the noble-blooded Herald Preston, whose line had died off in 2027, leaving the property in public hands.  The demesne had served as a park and the manor as a museum, until both of those fell out of favour with the public as weekend diversions.

Because it was on prime property at the City Centre, there had been talk of tearing it down and cashing in on the property value.  Prime Minister Sedgwick had intervened.  He was one of those romantics who still saw beauty in what buildings of old remained.  He persuaded the Parliament that it was a perfect place to serve a different, more urgent, public service.  So the the nice stately home with a lovely garden became Isolation Centre; where they kept those who had misplaced their minds until the mad, or someone more qualified, could find an adequate replacement.  Or until they died an untimely death.  Whichever came first. Death often took the place of reason.

See, the challenge for the Government and for the Ministry of Public Health was that not everyone responded to their prescriptions adequately. This gave birth to a number of Congresses and Industry Conferences for those involved in Pharmaceuticals. No one complained about that aspect of things.  Everyone loves a good conference, especially the ones in fine locations which can take days to get nothing done.  (There’s not much point in doing nothing quickly.  To be done right, doing nothing takes strategy, careful planning, and savvy.  Public speaking is a must.)  The conferences continued, and so did the madness.

Having people run around displaying erratic emotions, because the medications the government mandated didn’t take, was problematic. When nothing else helped, city-dwellers were transferred to a temporary residence at Preston House, for a maximum stay of two months. When that period was up, they either got better or they had an unfortunate strong negative reaction to their prescriptions. Or they committed suicide before anyone could stop them. Or they developed strange food allergies. Or..any number of things could go wrong for people who did not sort themselves out in time.

Smart people got better faster than fools and idealists. This world had no tolerance for fools and idealists.

No Apologias

From How Not To Do Time Travel:

You could fault me my lack of curiosity; not listening to what else Finnegan might have said, if I’d played along better, pretended I believed him, let him drive the conversation. Or you might judge my lack of sympathy for a man who was so obviously in distress. You haven’t done the job I did for six years.  You can fault anything you like. I’d dealt with more madness than any reasonable person should, in those years. I had little patience for it; especially when it came so very close to me. I was defensive. My defensiveness blinded me to matters of greater importance than I gave them at the time.

I really don’t have to explain myself. Though,  you clever folks might point out that, by writing this, I obviously feel I have to explain myself. That’s true. I can’t deny it. But it’s not all about explaining my actions, or my motivations, or trying to convince you that I did the best I could. It’s about leaving a record for everyone to read along the way which might reverse this mess. Or you could think this is just a nice story, entertain yourself for a while, and disregard it. I suppose that’s allright too.


I sat on the detritus which had been Philip’s office, where he had worked for twenty-three years as a clark, always in to work on time, always focused on meeting his data quotas without errors, and held his hand until he died.

Philip had a wife Miranda, to whom I was supposed to say that he loved her very much, and two children: Sally, who was at University studying Physics, and Timothy, who had been an unexpected but welcome late addition to the family, and was still in secondary school.  I was to tell Sally he was very proud of her, and tell Tim to look after his mother and sister. I would be doing none of that, but I wasn’t lying when I assured Philip that I would.

I meant it at the time, but, well, things got in the way after that. One day, if I ever get my own timeline sorted, if Miranda and Sally and Timothy still exist, I’ll visit their modest home in the suburbs and tell them what Philip told me so long ago. Assuming it is still long ago. It might be before, and then, maybe, I can tell Philip to stay home that day.



The thousand years war was a very bad idea which stuck—until everyone was so used to it they might have missed the chaos if peace ever broke out.

In Medias Res

..and then we wove the knots into the fabric of her fate so that she stumbled on the bumps.   It was damned funny.