A Scientific Romance
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David, jilted lover and reluctant museum curator, is about to discover the startling news of the return of H.G. Wells' time machine to London. Motivated by a host of unanswered questions and innate curiosity, he propels himself deep into he next millennium, exploring the ruins of his life.
the mud as thick and fast as bamboo under a POW. And then I see something blue around a stem: a bit of mooring line. And another bit, and another. But no time machine. Panic. Despair. I examine the ropes. Not frayed but melted: it hasn’t gone adrift; it’s flown. The next thing is a glimpse of something caught in a thicket, an unusual colour that is nonetheless familiar. I hack and squelch my way, a journey of ten yards and half an hour. A straw hat. But not my straw hat, nor the sort worn in the
paddled south—frantic now—out into the middle of the estuary where the shipping channel had been. From here I could see north over a fringe of palms to some low hills that seemed to have the profile I remembered. But if they were the hills of Rayleigh, unbroken forest hid the town, and there was no way to get there through the swamp. The tide was running hard now, emptying from London, the water green and clear—as if no towns or farms disturb the earth. The Thames can’t have run this clean since
mosaic. The smoked colours and gold tesserae; the angels; Christ in his majesty above the vanished altar—even in decay these give the place a Byzantine glow I had forgotten, as if this were St. Sophia, not St. Paul’s. It was the private touches brought me back to our London and our time: TO GENERAL SLIM, 1891–1970, REMEMBRANCE FROM A YOUNG GIRL IN SINGAPORE. A cloud passed over; then the sun reached into the broken dome where willowy trees rise like wisps of incense. Seen from the dank hull of
King George’s Reservoir. Here a buck lifted his dripping chin to watch me fearlessly, as if he’d never seen my kind. Once beyond the reach of tides—i.e. above the general rise in sea-level—I came upon pieces of old weirs and locks. Huge stones from barge canals, some still in place, and a massive iron footbridge fallen on end, with a date cast into the metal: 1835. My job would be a lot easier if the twenty-first century had dated things like the nineteenth. But we rather went off Anno Domini
one another, and small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another, who all went in and out at the same hours, with the same sound upon the same pavements, to do the same work, and to whom every day was the same as yesterday and tomorrow.… The French got Napoleon, the Russians gave up, the Americans became the Tories of the world. But the Industrial Revolution, once ignited, burned with an incorruptible logic. You were right about Dickens; in one phrase he