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Infinitive of Go

The idea of instantaneous displacement intrigues me, strange though it is to see people seriously discussing the impossibility of the Star Trek approach. Brunner adds his typical unsettling twist, though not as depressing as usual.

It would be unsporting to reveal the twist here, and unfair not to give you a clue: 'parallel universes' is enough. Ingenious, satisfying and thought-provoking. I find Brunner an uneven writer, too prone to gloom and too ready to treat his characters unkindly. It still rankles, years after the only time of reading the book, that he created an uncommonly plausible and likeable gay man – let's go along for the moment with the supposition that SF in general is either sexless or sexist – just so that the right-wing villains could kill him off impersonally when fire-bombing a club.

A more simply positive, though still thought-provoking 'instantaneous displacement' story, is Lloyd Biggles' All the colours of darkness. There are at least two more references scuttling around the back of my mind, and I'll add them as soon as I've managed to pin them down. For time rather than place, there is of course Jack Finney's unequalled Time and again, a book whose central idea recurs every time I pick up a book of old photos or postcards.